Some of us often forget that the elderly are an entirely different type of target audience than the younger generation. They aren’t after the latest fads but utter functionality and, above all else, simplicity. Thus, when choosing cell phones for seniors, deciphering which needs ought to be catered to may prove to be tricky, especially if you’re not all that familiar with what seniors really need.
There’s no need to go in it blindly, though; we have a few tips on how to pick the perfect phone for the senior in your life. These are the considerations that will genuinely make the cell phone a useful gadget and prevent it from collecting dust somewhere in a sock drawer. In other words, if you take each tip to heart, the senior will likely love using their phone!
7 Tips on Choosing the Best Cell Phones for Seniors
1. Consider Their Main Afflictions
Now, we’d all love for seniors to stay in good health for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, the truth is often more uncomfortable than we’d like it to be. Their eyesight and hearing usually become worse over the years, with some even having to resort to using both hearing aids and prescription glasses. That in and of itself poses a question — are cell phones a good option for the elderly and their afflictions?
Well, that may not be the case with all phones. However, cell phones for seniors surely play into those ailments and work well in spite of them. Those who require a larger font or display can find their match among the models meant solely for the elderly. Manufacturers have even found a way to make phones hearing-aid-friendly. For those looking for excellent volume control, options are aplenty as well.
2. Think About the Absolute Must-Haves
In order for the elderly to use them as comfortably as possible, most cell phones for seniors come with simplified interfaces and a range of easy-to-use functions. However, for some of them, that may not be enough — and their must-haves may be more specific.
Of course, we’re talking about those who may be in need of immediate assistance from time to time. Usually, such individuals already require a bit more care due to their worsening health. But since they may not get 24/7 care, their cell phones should provide support wherever they go.
Fortunately, that can be arranged if the phone has an SOS button, for example. When programmed, this button should notify the authorities or the loved ones of the urgent need for assistance. Thus, it cuts the reaction time and allows for help to come to the senior’s home faster.
But the list of potential must-haves doesn’t end there. Some cell phones for seniors come with visual ring indicators for those who may not be able to hear the ringing. Additionally, voiceover and voice typing are among some of the best features to opt for, as they allow the seniors to use the phones with more confidence. Whether they cannot see properly to read texts or have a hard time calming their shaky hands to type them out, these two features ought to resolve such problems and keep the communication with the outside world steady.
3. Determine Whether Internet Access Is a Necessity
Seniors who have had a chance to use the Internet extensively throughout their lives may appreciate having a phone with Internet access and apps like Facebook, WhatsApp, and similar. That doesn’t mean they have to opt for a smartphone, of course; even some block and flip phones offer such a glimpse into the modern age.
One thing to note, though, is that even if a senior doesn’t use the Internet, it doesn’t hurt to provide them with a phone that lets them browse it from time to time. At some point, they may get interested in learning more about it. At the very least, showing them how a few apps work or even just how to use a browser may help with their loneliness and feelings of isolation. Those are, as we’re all aware of, very much common among the elderly.
4. Try to Get a Camera Phone
Capturing fleeting memories with their phones is just one of the ways seniors may grow closer to their loved ones and feel as if they’re actively taking part in their lives. At the same time, camera phones allow them to nurture a wonderful hobby that they can even share with peers.
Thus, they may improve their social lives and actually feel better about themselves and their age in general. Who knows? A camera phone may even make inactive seniors want to go outside more to hone their photography skills!
5. Check If the Phone Supports Additional Health Monitoring and Emergency Apps and Features
If they don’t have an SOS button, some cell phones for seniors may incorporate a medical alert alarm button. Usually, this button is integrated with the interface and works via an app that triggers an alarm to get the senior some help fast. On the other hand, even the most basic phones probably have a speed dial option. In case of emergency, this could very well save someone’s life.
Most smartphones today can be used with various health-monitoring apps on the market. It may be possible to integrate those apps with some more robust-looking phones, like a smart flip phone, for instance. These apps cover a range of health-monitoring services, including blood pressure tracking and pill monitoring. If anything, that should make it easier for the seniors to take care of themselves.
If the phone allows for it, it may also be possible to download and connect some apps with a 24/7 monitoring center. That would give the family and caregivers some peace of mind, particularly when there’s an emergency. It may also prove useful in the long run if the senior’s health hits a rough patch at some point.
6. Opt for the Most Comfortable Model to Use
The Mighty Block Phones
Candy bar or block phones are the models we’re most familiar with, as they were some of the first modern examples of communicating on the go. However, we shouldn’t forget about flip phones, which may offer more display protection, and senior-friendly smartphones.
You certainly know what block phones look like. Both the display and the keyboard are on the same side, while the battery is located behind them. The display is almost always rectangular, and the keyboard features large buttons. As you can imagine from the name, the whole phone resembles a block — and a rather sturdy one at that!
The greatest advantage of block phones is that they’re usually durable, so shaky seniors aren’t likely to break them fast. Furthermore, since the phone comes in only one piece, there aren’t any moving parts to worry about.
The disadvantage, however, is that the display may be a bit small in some models, posing a problem for seniors with poor eyesight. That is, of course, if they cannot change the font’s size or use a phone screen magnifier.
The Handy Flip Phones
The flip phone, on the other hand, might be a better option for seniors looking for something small but with bigger features. Since there are two sides, the display on a flip phone may be larger than that on a block one. The keyboard may also be more comfortable to use, as there’s simply more space for it. That should bode well with seniors who haven’t had a chance to use cell phones before or have shaky hands.
The downside, though, is the hinge that connects the two sides — it may wear down over time. Still, some flip phones have dual screens, which may reduce the wear and tear a bit. In that case, if they need basic information, like time and date, seniors don’t even have to open them.
The Modern Smartphones
There are also elderly-friendly smartphones, which look like the models most of us are used to but have a more simplified interface and intuitive design. One of the first things you may notice about these is that the icons are fairly larger than in regular phones, making them super-easy to use if a senior has problems with their eyesight or shaky hands. Additionally, the larger display should help them type out texts without a hitch, not to mention snap some gorgeous pics. They have to be careful, though, as smartphone displays are so easy to break!
7. Make Sure the Phone Is Easy to Use In General
Finally, don’t forget to check whether the user interface is simple enough for any senior to understand. We have to keep in mind that the elderly, especially those older than 70 years, are very much confused by the technology of today and aren’t even sure how to approach it.
Thus, the interface should be intuitive enough for them to effortlessly use the phones on any occasion, especially if there is an emergency. The menus should, therefore, be easy to browse, the folders and apps should have clear, understandable names, and all the most useful functions should be only a few clicks (or swipes) away.
At a glance, choosing from an array of cell phones for seniors may seem easy, especially if the senior in your life doesn’t have many requests. However, to reach an informed decision, we need to have the above factors in mind and consider what the future may bring. The phone should enable a senior to stay in touch with their loved ones and be entertained, as well as get immediate help whenever needed. On the other hand, it should have a design and features that would help the senior overcome any current or future afflictions — no matter how unlikely they may seem at this moment in time.