My mother did this, barring the technology issue, when she was diagnosed with emphysema. She had been getting weirder and weirder on the telephone, and it had been getting harder and harder to have an actual conversation with her, as she would go off on side tracks and you just could NOT have a coherent conversation with her. She lived 3 states and 2 days drive away from me, and I had limited money and 3 small children, so picking up and going over to see what the heck was wrong with her really wasn't an option.
Come my birthday, she sent me a book unwrapped (she NEVER does that!!), with a note inside asking for forgiveness for not wrapping it, but that she still wasn't feeling well, and was still on oxygen....... No mention of WHAT SHE WAS DIAGNOSED with, nothin'.
I was so PO'd I could hardly see straight, and it took me a month to calm down to be able to call her and be civil about it. She then told me that she'd been diagnosed with emphysema, and had been sent to the ER by her chiropractor, as she was turning blue that day....
That was 20 years ago. She's still is (and always has been) a very difficult woman, but her advancing dementia and helplessness has actually made her much easier for me to handle these days - which is a Very Good Thing - since she's in assisted living an hour away from me, and I'm in charge of her money now. Plus the doctors email me directly with questions and issues. No more ambushes about anything other than "I'm out of toilet paper/cat food, bring me more NOW" when in fact I won't have time to get there for 3 more days.