The Tech Support Generation

I am not sure if this is just a problem amongst Dementia patients, or it is a basic senior problem. It is the idea that TVs just spontaneously break. It doesn’t matter how old the TV is. My mom’s TV is constantly breaking. And it always seems to happen at 11pm at night. I have a friend with a mom in her 80s. She has the same problem with her TV.

The Tech Support Generation

My generation (mid-Boomer) is the acting tech support for our parents. As frustrating as it is for us to have to “fix” our parent’s electronics, it is more frustrating for them to have to call us. I am well aware of that. Devices are getting more difficult to use everyday. Smartphones, Smart TVs, and Smart What Evers are a stretch even for me, and I have been in that business all my adult life.

But it is the TV that is the worst. The remotes have a zillion buttons, all very small, and poorly labeled. And there is that pesky latency. It takes about 8miliseconds for the button to perform its task. That is way too long for my mom. So, after she presses a button and sees no immediate change, she starts frantically pushing every other button on the remote.

It’s Always The Input Button

In a brief, and very unscientific survey I have taken among people my “tech support” friends, it seems that the Video Input button causes the most problems. Invariably, whenever we respond to our parent’s calls to come over and fix the TV, it is always the same problem. They change the input from HDMI to something else, resulting in a blue screen. It must be in the Senior Parent’s Operating Manual, on page one.

“When you are lonely and want to see your children, change the input on your TV. Then call them and tell them your TV is broken”.

Keeping It Simple

I only have one device hooked up to her TV, the cable TV box. She has lost the privilege of having a DVD player. Trying to get her to change inputs, turning on the device, opening the drawer, loading the disc, closing the drawer, and navigating the menu was way too much to talk her through over the phone. And I was not about to go over there every time she wanted to watch a movie. It’s actually easier to pick her up in the car, and drop her off at the theater.

But still, even with one device, she finds a way to change the input. I have tried to show her how to change it back, but to no avail. And, trying to talk her through it over the phone is impossible.

Me: “Mom, press the button that is labeled “TV/Video”.

Mom: “There is no button like that, I swear To God”.

Me: Mom, you don’t have to swear to God. I know you are not lying to me. It’s there, you just can’t find it”.

That is when I invariably give up and drive over, because, it can never wait until morning. With all of the problems she has with her memory, she seems to remember that the TV is not working. If I tell her to turn it off and wait until morning, I get a call at 6am sharp. “Are you coming over to fix my TV now”?

My Savior

They make a remote for seniors with extra large buttons, and it syncs the TV and cable box. And. The best part is, there is no TV input button. I bought one, and it seems to have solved the problem. She is not allowed to use the Channel UP/Down Button, because she presses it until she gets to channel 5523! I now have her programmed to sue the numbers only, and have written down the channels she likes to watch.

For now, the 11pm calls to fix her TV have stopped.