The dark side of the ElderTech force

porsche-911-carrera-convertible-red

For the most part, it’s exciting that older folks are adopting new technologies.  But along with all the fun stuff, there has to be a measure – a good, large measure – of caution.  We all know there are scumbags out there who troll the Internet for people’s personal information to make a dishonest buck.

I can’t tell you how often AGMA has been contacted by a Nigerian prince or a long lost, distant “relative” offering to make me rich beyond my wildest dreams.  Sweet!  Maybe I can buy that Porsche I’ve always wanted.

TANSTAAFL.

And sometimes the tolls get help from our alma maters, Target, Home Depot and the U.S. Government .  Yes, we’ve had our personal data compromised (code word for stolen) from all four of them.  Lucky us.  Names, birth dates, social security numbers – the whole shebang.  I’m just waiting to find out that I’ve bought that cute little red Porsche 911 convertible in Las Vegas or my 401K has been reinvested.  With a Nigerian prince.

The worst of the worst – the bottom dwellers in the criminal gene pool – prey on the truly elderly who might not be in total possession of their ability to reason and reflect. Like my mother-in-law.

My 81 year old MIL thinks she is doing just fine.  A two week trip to Ireland in 2013 with her convinced me she really isn’t.  I went as a traveling companion, not by choice, but to help her keep her safe and “navigate” a horrible trip that her travel agent put together for her that involved all bus and train travel.  Huh?  In the end, I was glad I went – sort of – because there was no way she could have navigated it all safely by herself.

Her solo trip to Rome this past February when she stayed in her hotel for the ENTIRE week is proof of the pudding.  She said she didn’t go out because it rained all week.  No Coliseum, no Sistine Chapel, no Spanish Steps, no Roman Forum.  You can read my post from February leading up to that a little adventure.  My head is still hurting.

She’s in the beginning stages of dementia.  But she thinks she is doing just fine.  Just. Fine.

This is not a good place to be especially since Facebook is her BFF.  Despite repeated warnings from us not to friend people she doesn’t know, she has many “friends” who aren’t real people.  The “men” – all claiming to be in their 50‘s and 60‘s – flirt with her.  She’s a lonely widow who thinks she’s still one hot mama, so she flirts back.  Seriously.  They ask for money.  And God know what else.

Last fall she sent $8000 to one of her “friends”, a “millionaire” who needed a bridge loan to buy an oil well drill bit until his bank can though with financing.  My MIL lives on a fixed income.  She’s still waiting for her dividend check.

OMG… Shoot me now!

She posts information and pictures that would allow the scumbags to find her house if they wanted to track her down.  She lives alone.  We’re pretty worried about her especially since she lives 1700 miles away.

When, once again, my hub gave her the “not everybody on Facebook is what they appear to be so don’t friend anybody you don’t know” talks, and offered to help her de-friend the scumbags, she threatened to de-friend us!  She said we were interfering with the “joy of her Facebook experience.”  I’m telling you, you can’t make this stuff up!

And, unfortunately, there’s is absolutely nothing we can do about any of it until she goes broke or gets in an accident or worse.  We’re really praying it’s not the worse.

So enjoy technology, and help your peers and parents enjoy all it has to offer.  But, just like we warn our little ones when they are young, teach them to be very wary of strangers.  And show them how to set their security settings tighter than one of Kim Kardashian’s pre-pregnancy dresses.

I sure hope my AGMA-alter enjoys driving my Porsche in the Nevada desert.  I bet it’s a blast!

I can almost feel the wind blowing in my hair.

My outlaw in-law

Confused-Oldie

I know that I promised that AGMA’s next blog post was going to be about Roman toilets.

While it’s an important subject that needs further investigation and elaboration, something’s come up that demands our immediate attention.  And it kind of has to do with Rome in a twisted, round-about way.

Do you have an outlaw in-law in the family?  We do.

Of course…

My MIL married her husband at age 15.  That boggles my mind. How is that even legal?  But this was back in the late 40’s in the hills of North Carolina where I think child brides were common. Probably all too common.  At least she didn’t marry a cousin.

My husband was born when she was the only 17.  And she had had all three of her children by the time she was 22.  I could barely take care of houseplants and keep them alive at 22.

As a result, she is “young” for having a 65 year old son.

When her husband, my father-in-law, passed away ten years ago, she went into a deep funk.  Now mind you, they really couldn’t stand each other.  There was nothing but nasty bickering when we were around them.  Quite a bit of venom was spat about.  Good times. But I guess when you’ve been together with somebody for 56 years, it’s not easy to say goodbye no matter how much you couldn’t stand the sight of them.

Maybe?

It took her about two years to get her bearings and realize that she could do whatever she wanted to do.  She didn’t have to ask permission anymore.  Spend all night at the casino if she wants.  Go to plays and musical shows.  Buy a double-wide in the mountains. And travel.  She just loves to travel.

And that’s when the trouble started…

At this point I have to reiterate that I am a “value” traveler.  I like bargains.  I’d rather take $3000 and go on two “value” trips than one upscale trip.  It’s just the way AGMA rolls.

She doesn’t like to travel alone so she invited us to go on several tours with her to Scotland and Ireland.  The tours were very nice, but pretty expensive; not in keeping with the AGMA travel mantra of “value”.   We kindly, politely turned her down.

Then she offered to pay our way.  For both trips.  My husband was wary.  Very wary.  He’s learned over the years.  “TANSTAAFL!” he said.  He said we’d “pay” if we went – one way or another.  I just felt sorry for her that she was so lonely, and encouraged him to accept her kind gift.  Think of the joy and pleasure it would give her.  Yeah right…

TANSTAAFL.

She’s difficult to travel with, especially in these later years now that the demon of dementia that has started to rear it’s ugly head.  She’s terribly picky about what she eats.  She took it as a personal insult when she was offered lamb and/or salmon on both the Scotland and Ireland trips.   She hates lamb and fish.  For Pete’s sake, it’s Scotland and Ireland – all they eat is lamb and fish!  But she gets irrationally angry.  Like a child.  Nasty.  Charming…   She also gets horrific jet lag and sleeps for nearly two days after flying across the Atlantic. And she gets confused very easily.  On one trip, she couldn’t remember how to get back to her room in the hotel from the dining room.  Ah oh.  On another trip, she brought English Pounds to a Euro country and got upset because they wouldn’t let her pay with GBP.  Get the picture?

Now comes the Rome link.  Wait for it…

Evidently, our recent trip to Rome was the straw that broke her camel’s back.  My husband’s sibling reports she became furious after we told her we were going to Rome.  Turns out she’s terribly angry that we haven’t invited her on any of the trips we’ve gone on over the past couple of years after “all she’s done for us.”  Yeah.

TANSTAAFL.

You pay now or you pay later.  My husband’s a wise man.

So she did the rational, sensible, practical thing.  She immediately booked a trip to Rome for a week.  By herself.  Leaving a week from the date she booked it.  Leaving yesterday.  We got a text today that “all is good”.  Oh my God, my head hurts…

My husband tried to talk her out of it, offering himself up as a sacrifice.  He said he would go on a tour of Italy with her in the Fall. Too little too late.  She is stubborn.  She is irrational.  She is losing her ability to keep herself safe.

My outlaw in-law.

Aging parents…

The *hit is getting ready to hit the proverbial fan.