Seniors, who may be isolated from their families or have special health needs, shouldn’t be excluded. Smartphone use among seniors is growing every year, but it varies substantially by age: 59% of 65- to 69-year-olds have smartphones. But that drops off as seniors get older. Only 31% of 75- to 79-year-olds use them, according to the Pew Research Center. Seniors who don’t use smartphones don’t need to be left out. Here, we’ve broken down the best cell phones and phone plans for seniors, no matter their mobile proficiency, and things to consider before you buy.
Before You Begin
When you’re exploring plans and cell phones for your senior, there are a few things to keep in mind to help you choose the best plan.
- Discounts – AT&T, Consumer Cellular and Cricket Wireless offer AARP discounts and AT&T, Sprint and Verizon all offer veteran discounts. Always ask if your senior qualifies for various discounts to ensure you’re not paying more than necessary.
- Data – Some seniors may not have any interest in using data on their phones, so don’t pay for it! Ask about limited data plans or talk & text only plans.
- Family plans – It may be a lot cheaper to add your parent’s cell phone onto your personal plan. Some companies allow you to add an extra line for just $10-40 a month more.
Choosing a Phone
With so many choices on the market, it can be daunting to choose the right cell phone for your senior.
Keep these tips in mind when making your choice:
- Basic vs. Smart – There are two general categories of phones; basic flip phones and smartphones. If your senior is more tech-savvy, wanting to be able to FaceTime family and use different apps, then a smartphone is a good choice. If they just want to be able to call and text, then a flip phone would be a cheaper option to satisfy their needs.
- Specific features – A common complaint from seniors about phones is that they can’t hear when the phone rings or the buttons are too small, or they can’t see the screen. Consider special features in phones such as big buttons, a bright screen, voice command options or anything else that would help your senior with their specific needs.
- Return policies – Oftentimes, a senior won’t know what does and doesn’t work for them in a phone until they’ve given it a test drive. Almost every carrier will let you return or exchange a phone within a 14- to 30-day trial period, so make sure you check when that period ends and ensure your senior is happy with their phone before that time is up.
While you can just get a normal smart or flip phone, there are also cell phones designed just for seniors, created with functions that older people would benefit from in mind.
- Jitterbug Flip – This is the quintessential senior flip phone. It has big buttons, a bright display and large text fonts. The menu is organized in a simple, user-friendly format that’s navigated with directional arrows and “yes” and “no” buttons. It also has a personal safety feature, the 5Star button. With the press of the button, a senior can get in touch with emergency services, giving both the phone-owner and family peace of mind.
- Jitterbug Smart2 – Owned by the same company as the Jitterbug Flip, this smartphone has a large screen and large buttons to make the phone easy to use for seniors. It also has the same 5Star button that the flip does and an advanced voice typing feature, which is helpful for seniors that have declining eyesight or shaky fingers.
- Doro 824 SmartEasy – This flip phone has well-spaced, high contrast keys to make texting and calling easier for seniors, along with a bright screen and large text. The phone offers an assistance button, which allows the user to dial a pre-programmed emergency contact.
Cell Phone Plans
Many networks offer plans specifically catered to seniors and their limited cell phone usage.
- AT&T – This carrier offers a Senior Nation Plan available to those 65 and over, using a basic phone. You get 200 anytime minutes, unlimited calls to other AT&T customers and 500 nights and weekend minutes, all for $29.99 a month. Texting can be added for an additional charge.
- T-Mobile – T-Mobile offers an unlimited 55+ plan for seniors who want talk, text and data. It’s $60 a month for unlimited talk, text and LTE data for two lines.
- GreatCall – Better known as Jitterbug, this plan operates off the Verizon network, with plans starting at $14.99 for 200 minutes of calling, $3 for 300 text messages and $2.49 for 40MB of data.
- Pure TalkUSA – This veteran-owned carrier operates off the AT&T network and offers several smartphones and flip phones, all of which are hearing aid compatible. All their plans come with unlimited talk and text and varying amounts of data, with their cheapest plan starting at $20 a month for 500MB of data.
With so many options for cell phones and plans, your senior can stay independent and never needs to be out of the loop. About Care Home Care prides itself on helping seniors maintain their independence with our in-home caregivers. Schedule a free assessment today to see how we can help improve your senior’s quality of life.