Dear Blake,

I have a much younger friend in another state, and we like to keep in touch. I prefer email, as I’m elderly, hard of hearing and look after my husband, who is having cognitive problems. I have no household help. My husband and I are both on restricted medical diets that require cooking most meals from scratch and we both have many medical appointments. Therefore, my free time is limited.

My friend prefers talking on the phone. She lives alone and has tons of free time. I have asked for her cellphone number so I can call her during my morning walk, which is the only free time I have, but she says she gives the number only to her grown children and doctors, and prefers to call me.

Each time I email, she says she “longs to hear my voice” and asks if she can call me. I have explained my reasons to her. How do I answer her repetitive pleas politely? I simply don’t have time to chat on the phone. I’ve wavered from this stance with only one other elderly friend, who doesn’t do email. It inconveniences me, but in her case, there is no other choice.

Signed, Natalie
From Eugene, Oregon

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Dear Natalie,

You apparently have on your hands a “Chatty Cathy”. I think I have a few ideas that will suppress the gums from flapping on Ms. Motor Mouth. Consider these suggestions. You said you were hard of hearing, so do this. Anytime she says something, make her repeat it at least five times, and you should be able to get her to the point where she’d rather write you because it’s less irritating. Or, tell her you are ditching your cell phone and you will only talk to her if she happens to call you when you’re walking passed a pay phone… assuming she knows that particular number. When she says longs to hear your voice, email her a video of you speaking. And if she calls you wanting an explanation, don’t answer, but text her that you long not to hear her voice. And lastly, try this idea. Tell her you now hate all elements of electronic technology, and you’ll only communicate with her through U.S. mail… delivered by Pony Express. I hope this helps.