by Irwin Lengel
(Lakeland, FL)

Lately there is a lot of talk about how our high-tech toys are taking up too much of our daily lives. This is probably true for those individuals that are constantly on their cell phone checking for messages or texting someone.

I read recently that many individuals actually check their cell phones for email/text messages every 6-7 minutes. I must admit that this is overkill and the person addicted in such a manner does need to get a life so to speak.

But, for those of us not so addicted, use of our cell phones, in ways other than the expected two-way communication, can in fact become a life-saver.

As we all know, the older we get the more we tend to – let me just say - absentmindedly overlook doing something that we should have done.

For instance, say that you have a medication that you are supposed to take thirty minutes before your next meal. In many cases, being retired, unless we are practically immobile, chances are we may be doing something (hopefully something fun and entertaining) that has us deeply involved. So much so that we forgot how fast the time can fly by. What this means is that chances are we may be so involved with doing whatever project that suits our fancy - lunch time might just slip by without our even noticing it.

By itself, this may not be such a big deal. What do we do – we stop what we are doing and make lunch. But, in doing so, we may forget that we were supposed to take a certain medication thirty minutes before lunch.

As I said, chances are we will realize that we forgot to stop for lunch, prepare our lunch and go on with the balance of our day only to realize much later that – oops – we forgot to take our medication thirty minutes before we ate lunch. This recently happened at our house and hence the reason for this post.

Back to the cell phone!

So, remembering that this high-tech piece of equipment is more than just a two-way communication device and that there are many features connected with this little piece of ingenuity, I took my cell phone and programmed it with an alarm to provide me with a notification sound that would ring thirty minutes before our scheduled lunch time.

Once the bell sounds, while not lunch time yet, the alarm serves as a reminder that – hey – it’s thirty minutes before lunch time – “Take your pill.” In essence what I am saying is just this – in this particular case, our cell phone is merely another means of assisting us in our old age.

True, modern cell phones are much more than just communication devices. You can play games on them, keep in touch with others be it a telephone conversation, text message, or use it to surf the Internet keeping up with what is happening in the world of our friends and family (Facebook comes to mind).

But, the important thing here is that – cell phones are just machines. Machines devised to assist us. They can be much more than two-way communication devices.

Plus, we do not need to be on them 24/7 (which is almost the case based on the comments I made at the beginning of this post). We need to remember that we are the ones that control them, not the other way around. As long as we stay in control and by that I mean not be on them constantly, they can be extremely helpful during our retirement years.

What we do need to remember is to do other things – things that our parents and those that came before them did – before the advent of cell phones – communicate with each other and by that I mean verbally – face to face, or by the written word (how many friends or relatives do you know today that still write letters).

We need to remind each other that face to face conversations can be wonderful ways to pass time. If we go to lunch with someone to catch up with old times or take a walk with someone to share that time with them enjoying the great outdoors, we should do exactly that – be with them in that moment (not checking our phone every 6-7 minutes).

Life will not come to an end should we, perish the thought, turn our telephones off while we eat lunch or take a walk with a dear friend. Whatever is happening in this great big world of ours is going to happen and we will learn of it soon enough. But what is happening between two friends spending time together or relatives eating lunch together in the here and now and in a face-to-face meeting – without the interruption of looking at our cell phone, that my friends is true communications.

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