By Joe Rector

I stopped for a talk with my neighbor’s son, Tony Nelson, the other day. He’s only a few years younger than I am, and he and his son were helping out around his mother’s house. We reminisced for a while, and then I made some comment about being old. Tony looked at me and replied, “It sort of sneaked up on us, didn’t it?”

I suppose that we are fast approaching being the oldest generation. We’ve reached our 60’s and 70’s, and no matter how we fight it, the world sometimes seems to be leaving us behind. I, for one, wish someone could invent a Senior Button for all us old codgers who just don’t work well with some things.

Take appliances for instance. Stoves have glass cooktops so that it’s easy to put a hand on an invisible eye; refrigerators have built-in computers to tell homeowners too many things. Dishwasher give a choice of cycle, as well as water temperature and drying methods. Even coffee makers have options for when to make the stuff and how strong it should be. A Senior Button would take away much of the confusion. It could ask simple questions with “yes” or “no” answers. Then we older folks could cook without burning food, open refrigerators to simply retrieve an item, or brew a pot of coffee that tastes good.

My generation and the one before didn’t grow up with computers in our lives. Paper and pencils served us well, as did typewriters. Many baby-boomers don’t have a clue how to turn on a computer, much less do anything with it. Some folks only go so far as to check e-mail accounts or to log on Facebook to see the latest pictures of grandchildren.

I know a few people who won’t touch a computer because they’re afraid they’ll break it. Some have attempted to contact customer support for help in clearing up problems. However, as soon as the phone is answered by something other than a recorded message, things go from bad to worse. I can’t get help from a foreign guy telling me what to do in terms that aren’t part of my vocabulary and in a dialect this old southern boy doesn’t understand.

A Senior Button would turn on the machine and then automatically direct us gray-hairs to the things we want. Key strokes would be limited so that we don’t become fearful or confused.

I’d love to say that iPods are easy to use, but the truth is that many of us in our advanced years are incapable of playing a single song on them. Downloading music from a computer is an impossible task for many of us to complete. We need that button to load our favorite songs and play them.

Too many seniors long for their old phones, the once that were black, sat on a table, and had rotary dialing. They eschew the use of smartphones. Hey, no one wants a phone that is smarter than he or she is. Besides, this whole App thing makes too little sense, and such things seem to be nothing more than extraneous items that make the use of a phone impossible. A Senior Button could walk an owner through every step of set up and then give simple instructions for dialing numbers or using other applications.

My generation grew up with television, or at least its introduction to households occurred first during that time. What in the hell happened to our TV’s? Flat screens or curved screens and HD pictures with surround sound keep our heads spinning. In my home, four different remote controls must be used to watch programs: cable, DVD, speakers, and TV. None is compatible with the other, and I spend half my life trying to remember which one performs what function. A Senior Button would remember all those things and just ask what kind of programming or which specific show I want. Then it would direct all those boxes and speakers to the correct channel.

These new products bring about frustration. No, they don’t necessarily make life easier, but they do drain energy and what little patience I have. I don’t want to go back in time; I just want to be able to operate the things in my household. I also want to be proficient enough doing that so that my kids stop laughing at me. A Senior Button on these contraptions would make things better for us oldsters. If we can’t have that button, can we at least borrow a young child long enough to program the technology for us?