By: Frank Engelman | Posted: September 17, 2020 | Updated: April 23, 2023
My relatives and their friends are in their 70’s and 80’s and 90’s now, and I am finding they have some recurring “problems” that get in the way of life being as enjoyable as I think it should be.
The good news is that I have come up with a variety of DIY “Tech Solutions” to these problems that I have implemented for them. I am collecting and describing them here, and I hope they will be useful for you too.
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Now Includes Solutions to the Problems Readers Send In.
Starting in 2021, some of the problems below have been submitted by readers and Longevity Explorers (thank you). If Frank has a solution, they are included below.
Problems & DIY Technology Solutions
Connecting to Parent’s WiFi
I want to be sure that the device I have configured for my loved one’s Wi-Fi will connect when they receive it. I can’t go and set it up myself.
Need Help Making Alexa Useful
I am setting up Alexa for my parent who lives at a distance. I am unsure what features to include, or how to set it up so it is as useful as possible.
Want Joint Activity with Distant Relative
Your parent or relative lives far from you, or for whatever reason in person visits are not realistic.
You have a way to talk with them via video already. But now you want something you can actually DO together “virtually”.
Dementia Patient Wanders (Living at Home)
Your loved one tends to wander out of the yard when you aren’t looking. She has dementia, and you worry she will get lost.
Although you could get an elderly GPS tracker, they may refuse to wear it, and cell coverage in your area might not be reliable.
What Time Is It? Dementia Confusion
My Dad is now in a nursing home, and he can’t tell the difference between 4 AM and 4 PM when looking at a clock. When he asks his Voice Assistant, and it says, “It’s 4 AM”, he thinks it said “4 PM,” and he better get dressed for dinner!
“Senior” Finds TV Hard to Use
As older adults develop physical and mental frailties, they sometimes have difficulty using products they want to be able to continue to use: such as the TV.
For example, physical impairments, like arthritis or tremor, may make it hard to press buttons. And cognitive impairments may make it hard for them to remember the way to navigate to a particular channel or streaming “show”.
Parent’s Computer or Phone “Not Working”
Helping family members who are technology-adverse, with their technical problems, has always been tough, but becomes even harder when they are remotely located or in an isolated facility. Part of the problem of remote support is “seeing” what they are seeing and “controlling” what they are doing.
Lost the TV Remote?
Who is not familar with this experience?
It’s time to watch TV. Where did you put the remote control for the TV?
Parent Keeps “Losing” Their Phone?
Your loved one is frequently misplacing their smartphone while at home.
Hand Tremor: Obstacle to Charging “Devices”
A family friend is having problems keeping his iPad charged as he has recently developed hand tremors and is unable to plug in the power cable.
Forgets to Put Toilet Seat Down
My brother-in-law forgets to put the toilet seat down causing my sister to almost fall in once during the night
Mother’s Fire TV Cube “Not Working”
The Amazon Fire TV Cube that you set up for your mother, who lives in another state, is sometimes hard for her to use. You wish that you had a way to give her remote help on its usage, other than trying to explain it over the phone.
Family Video Call: Too Cramped
When my whole family is here, and we want to have an Alexa call with my Aunt who is now in the nursing home, it’s rather cramped sitting around my phone or even my Echo Show
TV Always On in Background: Mind Numbing
If you have visited residents’ rooms in a nursing home, you will notice that the resident’s TV is always on, although the resident is not paying attention. It’s mind numbing.
TV Noise Drowns Out Phone Ringing
In my Dad’s nursing home everybody has their TV blasting, including My Dad. Sometimes he can’t even hear me calling on a video chat request on his Alexa Show.
Aging Parent Answers Doorbell Without Looking
My Mom jumps up to answer the doorbell every time it rings. I worry about two things.
- I worry she opens the door to strangers without knowing who they are.
- I worry she does not always hear the doorbell and might miss out on someone she actually wants to talk to.
TV Too Loud Due To Hearing Loss
My Dad’s hearing is getting bad and it upsets my Mom when he blasts the TV. He has a hearing aid and will NOT wear a headset.
Vision Problems: TV Action When Not Talking
Since my Mom’s vision is failing, she has a hard time understanding what is happening in a TV show when the actors are not speaking, In some shows there are long dramatic pauses or just action noises.
Forget to Turn the Stove Off
Once or twice a month I leave the stove on after fixing breakfast. Most of the time I realize that I have left the stove on but it may be an hour or two after breakfast. I worry about what might happen as a result of this forgetfulness.
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Retired Intel Engineer wanting to share DIY technology tips for the children of parents wanting to remain living independently. I like posting ideas and answering technical questions. If a product or software has an issue making it hard for seniors to use, I try to offer workarounds and also try to contact the manufacturer for solutions. I write a column for this website in the Innovation- Homebrew Solutions & Ideas section