Dad is 89, a former hospital data processing manager who (used to be ?) technically proficient. But now he is *constantly* messing with his phone settings and having to go in to the store for assistance; his pride won't let him ask us for help. We can't get him to leave well enough alone. I am most concerned because he continues to malfunction his hearing aids, which are linked to his phone (a feature that can be a godsend). He once inadvertently did something that alerted 911 which resulted in the police visiting him at midnight.

I suppose this same applies to the TV remote, but the phone is more critical for a lifeline.

He's in a townhouse, but will be moving to a senior community this summer. And from what we can tell doesn't have dementia.

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What kind of phone? My mom's Ipad has become a security blanket for her, and she plays solitaire for hours. I had to move the settings into a mis-named folder and move it to the last page, yet she still finds the settings and constantly rengages the password lock, but can't remember the password. There is no way as far as I know to completely remove the settings icon on an ios device.
I would say that if this is new behavior/confusion, have your dad checked for a UTI. Consider if this may be some cognitive impairment. Losing the ability to use current technology can be an indicator--cell phones and remotes tend to be the first things that trip up people the most.
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Maybe I met your Dad last year? Older man, in his past working life very able with tech. Now "always having problems with his phone".

He explained he had to call his son more than he liked. Contact lists would disappear, icons would change sizes, passwords would change themself.. all sorts of issues.

Then I met the son. Said his Dad was very bright. Great with tech but was calling him more & more often for help.

I told him my story of my own son stating my own phone/laptop issues were "user problems" not actually tech. I said it lightheatedly, a little jokey as a way into that conversation.

Whoa! Defensive reaction!
'MY Dad does NOT have *user* problems! I would never suggest that - in fact I don't want him to hear us talking about it. He is sensitive to this. He is just having so many problems with his phone. I reset it & then it's wrong again. I don't know what is going wrong".

Right. Did you say dad has Parkinson's? How long has he had that?

"He definately does NOT have any dementia with his PD! Are you suggesting he has? Just because he is forgetting some things, can't work his phone, is getting things muddled from time to time.. He likes to control his things his way. Wants to pay his bill himself - although he can't seem to look up his bank statements properly anymore & or manage his bills & calls me for help."

Maybe that son thought his Dad did not have 'dementia' as he did not show signs of short term memory loss (well known typical symptom of Alzheimer's). I'm not a professional to diagnose, but the older man showed lack of processing skills, reduced judgement & certainly lacked insight imho.

Your Dad may have normal age-related loss of skills, or maybe is sliding towards some mild cognitive impairement. The move to a more supportive environment will hopefully enable him to stay as independent as he can for a while yet.
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Is there some kind of child lock you can turn on?
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Ha! 80 and with a partner 82 here! Just the other day I said "Hon, you have to stop saying that "this phone (this computer, this remote) is broken. Because it's our own brains that are fizzing out". The whole 21st century electronics things get worse and worse and worse.
As this is your Dad's thing, he won't give it up, and when it goes wrong he will believe it's out to get him. I and my partner are convinced of it.
I hear that many places now are getting tech concierges for helping seniors in care. I think the wave of the future, if too late for your Dad.
I sure wish you luck. Wish HIM luck. Wish ME luck with this stuff. I still have a jitterbug and am loathe to get a big-girl phone. Recently negotiated TWO tablets and love them. I have two because my partner gave me his. "Broken" he said!
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Beatty Mar 2023

I call my son 'my tech support'. His verdict has been "This is a user problem, not a tech issue" umm, more than once 🙄
I don't know how you can keep him from messing with the settings.

Your description of his issues made me think that he does have dementia. At his age, it would kind of be in the normal range. If he is constantly messing up his phone, I think it is pretty clear that he has some issues. And calling 911 by mistake too? I would suggest considering the notion that may have some level of cognitive decline going on here.

According to your profile, he is moving from your sister's townhouse to independent/assisted living. Why is he moving? When? Is he independent or do you and your sister have to do a lot of things for him? Is he going to an independent apartment or into an assisted living facility? My mom has been in AL for a few months and it is a great fit for her mild/moderate dementia.

You also mentioned not being able to afford his future living arrangements? First, please, unless you or your sister are filthy rich, do not even entertain the idea of paying one penny towards his living expenses. He needs to live where he can afford to live. If he can live independently, there are many gov't assisted sliding scale apartments for the elderly. My MIL lived in one for 10 years and paid what they calculated she could afford which was about $200/month since all she had was a pretty small SS check.

Best of luck.
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