Friday, September 12, 2014

Program 60 and POTS telephone lines

This year my husband and I drove our oldest daughter hundreds of miles away and left her.  We left her in capable hands, but we left her and drove home without her. This is her first year in college, and while there is some trepidation over her being so far away from home, I really am not that worried about her.  She is a strong and independent young woman and I know she will be just fine.

Two (ish) weeks ago I followed my 82 year-old dad to his first day at college in over fifty years. I say followed because I didn't drive him, he drove himself; I was just there to make sure he knew how to get to the college, where to park, got registered correctly and made it into his class okay.  He is taking classes at the local community college through a program called Program 60. I'm not sure if it is just an Ohio thing, or if other states offer it, but it is awesome.  Anyone 60 or over can take classes at participating colleges for FREE as long as the class has room. (They pay for lab fees, parking, books and materials.) You can't register for the class until after the first day, though.  The professor of the class right before his (whom I met when I walked him to his room) told me that while the school says they should not come until the second class, after registering, the instructors like for the Program 60 folks to come on the first day of a class they are interested in - just FYI in case you or someone you know would like to try the program. Dad is taking an art class. (Guess which of my parents I take after in that respect?)

Of the two of my new students, can you guess which one makes me more nervous?  When I dropped my dad off at class I felt like I was leaving my child at the first day of kindergarten.  I inwardly hoped the kids would be nice to him and that he would make new friends.  Unlike with a kindergartner, I also hoped and prayed that he would be able to hear what his instructor said.  I went back to his house that day to pay bills and do some housekeeping, keeping an eye on the clock when his class was over.  I made sure to tell him to come straight home so I wouldn't worry.  He got home when he was supposed to and came into the house with a smile on his face (and I swear there was a spring in his step, too).

I heard someone the other day refer to those like myself as the "sandwich generation." In other words, those taking care of both elderly parents and children. I'm very fortunate that my dad is self-reliant and is in possession of all of his faculties.  He is healthy and active. My mom was the household manager and took care of phone calls and bill-paying, as well as the housekeeping.  When she passed away, I took over those duties, not because he couldn't, but because he has never liked doing them...which is why mom was in charge there. I feel so blessed that I can spend time with him and offer support.

While I'm talking about elder care, I'm reminded of how dad's power went out the other night.  He very thoughtfully called me on his cell phone to let me know, because when his power goes out so does his telephone land line.  This is something every senior, and everyone that has an elderly loved one, needs to be aware of.  If you have a cable/TV/internet bundle, your phone provider has automatically switched you to a digital "land" line that will be unavailable for emergency calls in the event of a power outage.  While the unit you are provided will come with a battery backup, the backup may not cover the duration of the outage.  Your digital land line is also subject to glitches in the digital service that an old fashioned land line never was.  My sister and I have had to call numerous times because my dad's cable, and hence his phone, was down.

In order to get a "real" land line, an old-fashioned phone line that does not rely on the power grid, one has to call the phone company and request a "POTS" line (Plain Old Telephone Service). Don't worry, you can have one AND still have the phone/internet/TV bundle.  Just a note:  You may have to be very persistent.  I have called my dad's phone company a few times to try and get this taken care of and, after sitting on hold with the happy music for twenty minutes or more, the calls have been dropped or cut off and I have been too busy to call back and start the process over. (I really HATE the telephone provider my dad uses, by the way.  For that reason and so many more.) In our case, dad does have a cell phone for back up, and eventually we will be getting him an "I've fallen and I can't giddy up" device with gps as a back up.  I would suggest, however, that those with elderly loved ones get them converted to POTS lines, especially if they are reliant or dependent on a so-called land line for service. 

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