Getting the Facts on Cell Phones for Seniors

There are many important considerations to factor into the purchase of a cell phone for the elderly. Whether you are the older person yourself, or you’re trying to decide on a phone and plan for a parent, there are many features that you need to consider.

Cell phones are an important tool to help elderly people with emergencies and medical needs.  The 5 Star Urgent Response system, for instance, is a phone that works like a personal emergency response system.  It includes a large button that the user can push when they need to contact a 5 Star Agent.  When a call is placed, the 5 Star Agent will be able to identify the user’s location, assess the situation and provide assistance or conference in 9-1-1 as needed. It’s a brilliant way for the user to feel safe and to have immediate help when needed.

Cell phones are also important for the elderly as they can serve as a medication management tool.  There are Mobile Apps available for cell phones today, like GreatCall’s Mobile App, that enable users to set up their medications, prescriptions and pharmacy information in the MedCoach app.  Users will get regular pill medication reminders and can even order refills right from the smartphone!

When searching for the right phone for an elderly person, usability is also of paramount importance.  A phone like the Jitterbug, for instance, features extra large buttons, a bright color screen with large numbers, and a simple navigation that includes “Yes” and “No” buttons. This creates much easier usability and allows the older user to navigate with ease.

For usability, some phones also have raised, separated number keys.  Phones such as the Pantech CDM8635 and the LG Wine II from U.S. Cellular make these tasks that much easier for elderly use.

Hearing is another important consideration when purchasing a cell phone for elderly care.  Many cell phones today are designed to work with hearing aids.  For some people, having a speakerphone might be enough, while others will need the extra help from the hearing aid tools.  These considerations should be carefully thought out and looked into to offer the best usability for the elderly user.

Finally, anyone helping the elderly user with the purchase should consider the user’s economic situation and plan needs.  Most elderly people will not need an extensive or complicated cell phone plan; they’ll need the minimal amount of air time and will probably need very little to no texting capabilities.  Shop around to find the best deal for the user, and ask about senior discounts everywhere that you go.

As a final note, make sure after the elderly person has his cell phone, that he is given an extensive tutorial about how to use it.  Just because this person now has a cell phone in his hand doesn’t mean that it will help him to keep track of his medications or to be safe should an emergency arise.  The tool is only as good as the user’s understanding – so make sure to properly train him before handing off the cell phone to an elderly user!

This video from the Today Show offers even more suggestions to help seniors with their cell phone needs.

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