As Geriatric Care Managers or GCMs, we deal with some tough, tough challenges: Helping people find a new place to live when they aren’t emotionally ready to move but physically must have more or helping families and the oldest old develop coping strategies as Alzheimer’s progresses. But all the challenges of living into older years aren’t big ones.
Today I was at Target buying an Xbox game for my grandsons and an older woman asked the young clerk working the electronics counter where she could get a phone book. Perplexed, the young woman (maybe 19) said “a what?” and the lady said, “A phone book. I have a GPS because I get lost but it doesn’t help me to have a GPS if I don’t have addresses of the places I’m going and I don’t have a computer to look them up.” The girl shrugged her shoulders and was at a loss to provide any suggestions. After all, who asks for a phone book anymore? Where do they even come from?
Chuckling to myself about the confusion of the young woman, I stepped in and asked the older woman who provided her phone service. She said Verizon but she only has a cell phone, no landline and therefore didn’t get a phone book. I told her to contact Verizon and explain she has a cell but still wants a phone book. I hope they helped her.
As I walked away, I realized what a small inconvenience this woman’s problem might seem to many but this older lady was nearly confined to her home if she couldn’t rely on her GPS and that old tissue paper phone book. Seeing this lady struggle with her small problem reminded me to slow down and observe and listen because sometimes all someone needs to enjoy life is a simple answer to a simple question.
As a Nation we are focused on whether we can afford the 78 million aging boomers and debating which medical programs and high tech solutions can enhance and extend quality of life. But sometimes quality of life is a phone book.