Things I can’t think my way out of

So, dad washed his cell phone a few weeks ago. Then, instead of waiting for it to dry out, he immediately plugged it in, pretty much guaranteeing he would short its components out. (Cue arguing as I asked him to put it in rice and he refused.)

I wasn’t all that upset because up to that point I’d been spending about a half hour a week trying to figure out what happened when he pushed a button and couldn’t extract himself from whatever he’d done. He needs a simpler phone. On the other hand, I didn’t have time to replace it. He’s been frustrated that I didn’t have time to take him shopping, which is fair, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it.

So today is really one of the first days I have had to deal with any logistical thing that was going to take more than an hour. I’ve researched the two phones that make sense for dad — Jitterbug and Doro. I’ve found a store that has them both for comparison, which is five minutes away from us and opens at 10.

The damages to dad’s internal clock mean that anything that is happening at any time that is known should be happening immediately. So at 8 I told dad we could go look at phones today. Since then he’s been asking me literally every three minutes when we can leave. I know he can’t help this, but it’s part of a pattern that will now intensify since I’ll be home more — that I’m not doing things on his schedule or the way he prefers and he will just pick at me, bit by bit. Even if doing things on his schedule would result in us sitting in a parking lot for a half hour.

Every month when the media bills come (cell phone, landline / internet / cable), dad flips out about the amount. There’s an obvious solution to this, which is to automate the bill so he doesn’t see them, some of which I did this summer when I was busy, but that upsets him, too, because he can’t see them. So right now the bills are set to be paid automatically but to still come to the house so he can see them. Every month I explain the media bills to him and he says he understands, but then every month he’s angry at me, again.

Anyway, the most obvious thing to do is to change our cell service. I want him to get a simpler phone and I will switch my provider to the cable company, at least initially. This should save us something like $600 / year as the carrier I would like him to use is much, much cheaper than what we have.

So in the interstices where he’s not asking me if we can leave, he’s asking me why the bills are so much. I explain this every month and I will no doubt explain it again, but the answer is basically that he has a series of inflexible demands that conflict with the pricing structure of the communications providers– he wants to keep a landline, we have to keep the Internet service we have, and although it’s expensive, the cable service provides exactly what he wants, which is turning on a TV and watching live broadcast TV at will, plus the channels he can’t live without — GSN, History Channel, etc. He wanted a flip phone with no data, but his current carrier charges a flat rate for that, while they force me to pay an exorbitant amount for a little data because I have an elementary smart phone.

There’s no really good solution here — cutting the cord would mean he would have to learn to use a new remote and two new systems (digital antenna, plus Roku or whatever). His capacity to learn and follow directions is severely diminished. I already spend about another half hour a week reprogrammming the remote or debugging the cable box after he’s pushed a button and doesn’t know how to extract himself from whatever he’s done. At the same time, Internet TV would be a huge obstacle in terms of his severe impatience about everything.

So I decided to start with the phone. We’re about to the leave for the store. He keeps saying, if I get a new phone, don’t we need to get a new phone plan? I keep saying, yes, but your phone is broken so you need a new phone anyway, and we are leaving the Verizon plan for a cheaper option. He keeps saying, but I don’t see why we need a new plan.

Wish me luck.

~ by Servetus on May 22, 2019.

42 Responses to “Things I can’t think my way out of”

  1. It really sounds like Catch 22. Wishing you luck – and patience.

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  2. Good Luck! (Facepalm)
    Take anything that could be used as a weapon out of the car before you leave…I can’t bail you out this weekend. lol

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Toi, toi, toi!!!!!

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    • Thanks. We have a phone now. I was taking the advice on a senior citizens’ forum to try the phone out for a trial period before transferring the phone number to the new phone. Now he keeps insisting that we have to cancel the previous phone service. I’ve explained five times that we need to keep it, as we want to keep the number, and my phone is still with the previous career. I wonder how many times I’ve going to have to state this or if I will just have to leave for a while.

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      • Congratulations. Sounds like a good plan to be able to try the phone out. Hopefully he will be able to cope with it.
        Would it be an option to write some things down and pin it on your fridge or something to help him remember?

        Liked by 2 people

        • A friend who has her mother living with her, suffering from dementia, now has a board where she can write various things to help her mother remember… such as who’s coming to visit today, or anything else that her mother asks frequently (having virtually no short term memory). Would that help with your father? 😘

          Liked by 1 person

          • We have a big calendar so we know what’s going on and he doesn’t have to ask me all the time, but that probably wouldn’t work for this sort of thing unfortunately. I’ve thought of having a log book where I just write down everything that happens but he’s indicated that he finds reminder signs insulting. (I had to put one up to try to keep him from operating the dishwasher full of plaster and it generated big screaming.)

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      • The thing I learned to stave off the arguments (and frustration), is to just agree. He says you need to turn off the phone service, you say “It’s already taken care of.” It went against my inner rules to lie to my mother, but for everyone’s sake, including hers, calm prevailed once this lesson took root with me. That doesn’t mean I didn’t want to scream when the same subject came up, often many times in a single day, but by just agreeing, the arguments dissipated. sigh Good luck, my friend.

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        • That’s a good thought. I hate lying as much as you do, so I agree it will be hard, but I am already often lying by omission. And it would just be nice not to get in an argument about stupid things. (“No one told me that.” “Well, yes, they did, three times.” “Well, no they didn’t”, etc. etc.)

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  4. Understanding your predicament so well, and wishing you patience. This situation is so difficult. From my experience, the most difficult part to overcome was constant repetition of even the smallest thing. I wish I could say that it gets better, but I won’t lie. I remember watching the struggle on Mom’s face as she grappled with something she knew that she used to know, and then seeing that look fade away from momentary sadness to blankness. My heart goes out to you, and to him. Long distance virtual hugs …

    Liked by 2 people

    • I remembered that you’d been through the ringer on this issue and I appreciate the support. There hasn’t been an upcurve since the stroke, as we were told there would be. I don’t know if this is because he consistently refused to do the cognitive rehab, or because the brain injury is just too severe. And I just really don’t know what to say when he tells me I haven’t told him something. Big argument last night over his federal taxes, which are still in preparation. He was told that we’d file an extension and I know he was present because it was said to him twice in my presence. The advice is “don’t argue, you will never convince them logically” and I know he can’t help that he can’t remember, and I don’t want him to feel bad about it, but it’s really hard to bear the criticism and accusations when I haven’t done anything wrong, without defending myself.

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      • My mental scars are tingling when reading what you are going through. It’s been more than a year, and I still cry (like now) when I think of what Mom was going through. As I mentioned above, just agree. “Sorry, I thought I told you.” “You’re right. I’ll take care of it.” Those became rote statements, repeated many times in the course of a day, sometimes through tightly clenched teeth and a fake smile. And afterwards, I would beat myself up for feeling that way about my mother.

        Give a shout if you need to vent privately, however vociferously. Been there, done that and know the feeling …

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I feel your pain. My sister and I struggled with our parents’ growing dementia until they passed away. Now my husband and I are dealing with his mother.
    Patience is indeed a virtue as it is so difficult to practice!
    Hugs to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s really hard to be patient with a person who’s so impatient. I start off calm and cool and as he pesters me I gradually lose it. Activating the phone was a hassle — it wasn’t happening as fast as he wanted it to, and there was a warning on the phone that said, don’t start phone until activation is complete, and I had to physically sit on the phone to keep him from turning it on.

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  6. You don’t by any chance have Comcast as your internet provider, do you? If you do, his phone service with them would essentially be free. He would have to buy a smartphone, but they have a basic LG for $7.49/mo for 2 yrs. Your dad is not likely to need any data, but even if he did, it”s $12 /GB, and only if he uses it. They use Verizon’s cell towers, if needed. (Don’t mean to sound like a commercial.) 🙂

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    • I totally appreciate the info — the whole thing is a maze of information (which is part of why I keep thinking I’m going to find a solution if I just keep looking long enough.) It’s Spectrum, but there’s no way he could use a smart phone anyway. He needs the physical buttons. We’re going to ditch Verizon — he’s going to Jitterbug for $15/mo and I can go to Spectrum for $14, which is still $50 / month less than Verizon was for both our phones. I’d take him to Spectrum to eliminate the separate bill, but the only phones that seem adapted to seniors’ needs are on prepaid carriers.

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  7. This will sound terrible, but I remember this stage with my Mom – having to repeat everything over and over. It was really a blessing when her mind deteriorated so much that she didn’t even have the reasoning power to ask questions. While it was sad to see her lose her mental capabilities, it was also a relief for us as she just accepted what was told without complaint.

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    • I have this fear that he’ll never reach that state, that he will just get more and more exasperated / exasperating. I don’t want him to get there, I want the old dad back, who was smart and on top of things. But the repeating wears on me surprisingly hard.

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      • I felt the same way. I wanted my mom back as she was, not as this needy, annoying woman. But accepting that she would never be at all self-sufficient, we did appreciate when she passed through the exasperating stage and hit the incoherent stage.

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  8. I have no useful advice to offer, having thankfully never been in this situation. It does sound like you’re figuring out a good solution to the phone situation at least. Wishing you lots of patience. Is there any way you could type out the answers to some of the common questions somewhere? Like his own FAQ sheet for phone services? Or maybe that would just annoy him. Hang in there. Hopefully you’ll get some answers as to prognosis once he has his new assessment.

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    • I finally got the appointment time today — it’s on September 9. There’s only one specialist in a hundred mile radius. I’m going to fish around to try to find someone else to see us sooner but if not it’s going to be a long summer.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s a long time out! Maybe you can ask to be out on the wait list, though. Sometimes if you can give them a cell number and you’re the first on the list to answer right away then you get the first cancellation.

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        • we did do that. I think he’s not a super high priority for them, though. The main issue for me, apart from wanting to know what is going on and whether there is anything else we can do for him, was that I was hoping if we had a firm diagnosis of something we could maybe stop fighting about whether he should drive or not, i.e., the doctor would just say, people with this condition can’t drive. The doc was not enthused about him practicing driving, but I imagine I’ll have to somehow manage that frustration for him all summer.

          Liked by 1 person

  9. Nothing to add, just feeling for you. Frustrated on your behalf.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I haven’t had to deal with dementia or stroke consequences in my family, and my mother is still in good health, so I can barely imagine what you must be going through. You are in my thoughts.

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  11. You could use a support group just like my aunt. My uncle has to have the bills payed the moment they come in the mail. He understand the amount but can no longer write a check. There are days that she is so stressed and depressed but she will not say much to me or her children. They are also downsizing something that should have been done years ago. He has a figure in his head but when he speaks that not what come out and its not like he is leaving off zeros it is a completely different number. He gets mad and thinks people are trying to screw him. I really feel your pain as I see what she is going though. He had a stroke in 2016 and has even gotten mean to her. My thoughts are with you.

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    • I looked into it — the ones here all seem to be either full and/or stopping for the summer, but I’m definitely going to be doing that in fall. The personality changes are hard to take.

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  12. Sounds very familiar to me… at least the time thing. I hope it’ll all work out fine.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s hard to know what to do because he does need preparation for stuff but the waiting then ends up being unbearable for him.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s similar with my father. On days when the nursing service visits for his bath, he starts staring out of the window at 7 though they never arrive before 10. When my sister whants to pick him up at 11.15, he insists on changing clothes as soon as I get up. I haven’t found any solution yet either, I bought him a talking clock (which he then presses every few minutes and sometimes he claims it’s lying…) and try to explain he doesn’t need to do anything and can watch TV as usual, but it doesn’t comfort him.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Thank you so much for sharing. So much of what you’re going through is almost exactly what I’ve gone through these past couple of years. I feel I’m not the only one. Mom is now in the hospital, unresponsive, and our timeline has been days for the past two weeks, but she keeps lingering. It’s sad that these last years will color so much of our memories. Keep up the good work. Bless you.

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    • Thanks for your support and insights. I hope you and your family are okay, and that your mother finds a smooth path.

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