Has trouble using the phone and other familiar gadgets (TV remote, computer, DVD player)

  All Alzheimer's Symptoms

When it happens

Mid to late mild stage.

Why it happens

It's growing difficult to follow a sequence and remember details (what does this button represent?).

What you can do

  • Remember that this is a more notable symptom in someone who was versed in these gadgets before; some people were never adept at them. It's important to focus on what has changed .

  • Be patient if you get a new version of an old device (such as a new remote with different buttons). Learning new things is very difficult by mild stage dementia; even someone well versed in gadgets may find it difficult to learn how to use a device that's slightly different.

  • Try using memory aids: Circle the "on" button with permanent marker; leave a note boiled down to two simple instructions ("Press red button. Then press yellow one."). Over time, however, even these may be hard to follow.

  • Avoid storing similar gadgets near one another. A cell phone and a camera, or a house phone and a TV remote, for example, are often confused for one another.

  • Try simplified versions of devices. There are computers that only do e-mail, "memory" phones whose buttons have pictures of the people most often dialed, and dial-less telephones that can be answered but not dialed. Learning to use even simple new devices can be challenging, however.

  • Try not to criticize mistakes. Just gently offer your help: "Let me see if I can do it."