Research has indicated that an increasing number of elderly people are using cell phones. In a recent survey done by the Pew Research Center, 91% of Americans aged 65 years and beyond, own a cell phone. This is about a 10% hike in the cell phone usage within the last two years. Similarly, smartphone usage has also jumped from 42% to 53%.
Modern cell phones are equipped with a multitude of features, including HD digital cameras, ultra-high-speed web access, games, and a variety of social media platforms. The choice of mobile phones for seniors depends on different factors such as affordability, comfort with technology, hearing abilities, and an individual’s eyesight.
Are you a senior who wishes to use the cell phone to make a simple phone call ? Or are you looking for a phone to give to your tech-savvy grandparent?
Fortunately, cell phone makers have seen themselves in the shoes of elderly people and brought out features that are custom-tailored to fit their unique needs.
Why should seniors consider having a cell phone?
Following are some of the essential services that a cell phone or a smartphone can provide to an elderly citizen:
- Emergency assistance-With an aging body, seniors are more prone to medical emergencies such as stoke, sudden fainting, heart attacks, etc. which requires immediate medical support. In situations like these, a preset medical alert button to call 911 will be a life savior.
- Monitoring health status-Smartphones these days are deployed with a variety of apps to track and monitor the live health status constantly. This includes a variety of information such as pulse, food allergies, step counter, weight, and blood pressure. Reminders can be set to alert the person when it is time to have the medicine.
- Socialization and security -With a cell phone, seniors could directly interact with their family members from anywhere and anytime they want. They can call the pizza guy or book a cab with utter ease. The family members, on the other hand, will have an added sense of security as their grandparents can reach out for help everytime they need it.
- Entertainment- Mobile phones these days play a crucial role in entertainment. With the introduction of music apps, the seniors can enjoy music without the need to run to a nearby music store. Mobile games are an added advantage whereby they could play the games of their choice with their old office colleague living in the next country.
What are the essential features to look for when purchasing cell phones for seniors?
Owing to the eyesight issues prevalent in most seniors, simple and large displays are a smart pick. The needs can vary to a great extent, from person to person. However, smartphone companies these days have come out with various other features that can support the elderly people.
Following are some of the age -friendly features to look for:
- Large screens and buttons: Many senior-friendly cell phones come with large screens with adjustable text size to minimize eye strain. The buttons will be larger than usual to make it easy to dial the numbers.
- Full Qwerty Keyboards: Using an ordinary flip phone to text is often a messy job, as you need to hit one particular key a certain number of times to select a specific letter. For seniors who lack strength in their fingers, choosing a slider or smartphone will be a better option.
- Extra set of cameras: An additional set of magnifying cameras within the phone is a very important tool for seniors to help them in reading by enlarging the small text.
- Smart voice recognition: Smartphones equipped with voiceover and voice recognition features act as additional support to elders. Voice typing is a feature that allows one to convert their voice to text. Voice over feature, on the other hand, helps a lot to the seniors who are visually impaired by reading out the text loudly.
- GPS Location: This is a lifesaver feature for seniors who have memory issues and are often in a situation where they can’t find their way back home. This tool gives a real-time location of the user and helps the family member to find the person.
- Fingerprint Recognition: This can be used as an alternative to passwords, which are used to unlock the phone. For seniors with a memory problem, this would be a great boon to unlock their phones without worrying much about security.
- Built-In Medical Alert Devices: Specially designed and affordable cell phones for seniors such as Freedom Guardian from Medical Guardian, MobileHelp Smart, FallCall Lite App on Apple phones have built-in medical alert devices. These phones can give out an immediate alert in case of any medical emergencies. Many of these phones also have fall detection sensors that will notify the family members in case of a mishap.
- Electronic tracking: Many smartphones have built-in apps that will help the seniors find items that they are most likely to misplace, such as keys, eyeglasses, remote controls, etc.
- Fitness tracking tools: Some cell phones come with many in-built fitness tracking devices. This includes monitoring the heart rate, blood pressure, number of steps in a day, etc.
- Emergency distress button: Cell phones with features like auto-dial buttons, which can be programmed to dial a specific number in case of emergencies are very useful for senior people.
Top ten cell phones for seniors to consider for the year 2020
Old age is the time when various mental health issues creep in. Many seniors are known to fall into mental depression or other related issues as they continue to grow old. Fortunately, cell phones act as great health assistants in keeping the mental sanity at a balance.
Studies have shown significant improvement in brain activity after using a cell phone. Researches from the National Institutes of Health have found a significant improvement in brain activity after using the cell phone for a mere thirty minutes.
Cell phones come with a variety of preloaded mind games, which helps in challenging the brain on a day to day basis, keeping it young, vibrant, and healthy.
Findings published by the journal of American Geriatric society has shown that brain-training games help to keep older adults with a sharp and healthy brain.
1. Jitterbug Flip
When it comes to choosing a phone for seniors, Jitterbug flip stands high due to its simplicity and most senior-friendly features.
This phone comes with a lot of cool and easy features such as simple menus, a big keypad with backlight and great quality speakers. The phone’s built-in operating system is quite simple and most of the interaction can be done by using a yes or no button.
For example, on the home screen, you can see a bar showing the list of all apps along with a brightly colored button asking you to select something of your choice. With a simple press of ‘yes’ or ‘no’ button, you could choose any apps of our choice or simply exit.
All the major functions of this flip phone can be easily worked out by just two or three clicks.
Jitterbug flip has an inbuilt emergency help button. This comes in handy for the seniors when they face an emergency situation.The emergency call button could be pre-programmed to dial the desired number of the user’s choice.
The 5Star emergency service uses GPS tracking to zero in on the user. The user has to pay an additional monthly fee to enable this service.
The front side of the phone is fitted with a 1.44-inch display having a resolution of 128-by-128-pixel to inform you about the date, time & information of the text messages and incoming calls.
The voice quality & built-in noise suppression features are really excellent. The long battery life will serve as an added advantage and give you a couple of days of standby.
|Screen size||3.2” x 4”|
|Battery||10 hours talk time|
|Dimension||4.3″ x 2.2″ x 0.7″|
2. BLU JOY
BLU JOY phone comes with a senior-friendly design and streamlined body. The battery cover is designed to have a smooth leather-like pattern giving a good grip, making it easier to hold. So if you have a senior member in the family with an issue of hand shivers, this can be a gift that’s also your expression of care and understanding!
The phone comes in bright black and red color making it easier to locate. BLU JOY comes with a large button making it easier to press without much strain to the fingers.
The screen display is 2.4″ and comes in full color.
The SOS button enables the user to connect with emergency services in just one press.
The built-in media player & FM radio helps to play music or listen to live radio. The camera is fairly decent at clicking good quality photos.
Extras-Bluetooth connectivity and flashlight.
|Cost||$19.99 – $27.99|
|Dimension||4.24 x 0.55 x 2.35 in|
3. iPad Mini
If you are looking for a cell phone for a senior member with a hearing disability, the iPad Mini is definitely a great pick.
iPad Mini can stream audio from the device to any compatible hearing aids. Though it is a tablet, both in look and functionality, the iPad Mini pretty much works like a cell phone.
The display is crisp, clear and bright with inbuilt features to customize the size of the icon. This is hence a wonderful support and a great help for seniors with limited vision.The resolution is 2048 x 1536 at 326 pixels/inch.The display comes with a fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating.
The inbuilt camera is robust and can take great photos both indoors and outdoors. Plus, with a variety of pre-loaded multimedia, there is no question of getting bored.
Ther battery life is sufficiently good with an easy life of 10 hours at a go…And that too while listening to music, surfing the web or watching videos on the internet!
|Screen size||7.9 “|
|Dimension||200 x 134.7 x 7.2 mm|
4. Nokia 3310 review
The Nokia 3310 is an excellent pick with it’s simple and straight forward features without the added distractions of a smartphone.
The phone comes in bright red, yellow, blue, and grey colors, which makes it easy to spot even in dim light. Great for seniors who have low night vision issues!
The battery is perfectly designed to last very long amd can go for a number of days after a full charge.
The outer casing is made out of thick and sturdy plastic, making it shockproof even if dropped accidentally. The entire display interface is clear and simple.
The phone’s inbuilt camera is decent and good enough to capture basic photos. The display window is designed in a curved fashion with a thick polarized layer making it easy to read the text even in bright sunlight.
The display buttons are big, easy to identify & press.
The phone comes with a good headphone jack to plug in the headphones and listen to music. Simple inbuilt games will add a pinch of entertainment for seniors looking for options to get out of their daily boredom.
|Dimension||115.6 x 51 x 12.8 mm|
5. Samsung Galaxy S8
Samsung Galaxy S8 comes with a stunner design and lots of accessibility features to support elders with various disabilities. This phone is excellent when it comes to helping people who are struggling with vision, hearing, eyesight, and various other physical disabilities.
The phone is incredibly light (155g) and is very easy to hold for seniors who are struggling with shivering hands.
When it comes to screen display, Samsung has proved that it is among the pioneers to come up with crystal clear displays. Rather than 16:9, the new aspect ratio is 18.5:9, and comes with a 5.8-inch display. The ultra high resolution of Quad-HD+ 2960 x 1440 is excellent when it comes to viewing ultra HD videos.
The Galaxy S8 has a long-lasting battery of 3000mAh.The rear and front camera is well suited for clicking superior quality images in all angles.
The optional Easy Mode is specifically designed to support seniors with vision impairment. Once activated, it simplifies the layout and enlarges the icons of the home screen, making it easy to navigate.
|Dimension||148.9 x 68.1 x 8 mm|
6. Motorola Moto G6 Play
Motorola Moto G6 is an excellent phone for seniors who do not have budget constraints. The phone is furnished with a large 5.7-inch screen and a 18:9 display.
The entire display comes with a water repellent coating. The front and rear cameras are wonderful when it comes to taking good quality pictures. The display screen is very bright with vibrant colors. The screen resolution is above 1080p.
The 4,000mAh battery lasts an exceptionally long time. And the fingerprint sensor allows you to unlock the phone with a simple touch.
|Dimension||154.4 x 72.2 x 9 mm|
When it comes to a cell phone for the elderly, Snapfon is a life savior. The phone is specifically designed to make it senior-friendly.This phone has almost everything to assist a aged person, including a bright display, LED flashlight, a talking keypad & big buttons.
The emergency SOS button is an added highlight. On pressing the emergency button, it will give out a three-part reaction as follows:
First-It sounds an alarm to alert the people who are around.
Second-An emergency text alert will be immediately sent to five members added in the contact list.
Third-The phone will call all the five members in contact and turn on the speakerphone.
The phone has an optional 24/7 monitoring plan, which is helpful in emergencies.
Subscribing to Snapfon’s sosPlus, a 24/7 monitoring plan ensures the assistance of an emergency response agent at times of trouble. In case of emergency, the phone directly connects to an emergency response agent who will have all the information, emergency contacts, and medical reports of the user.
The agent can be a lifesaver as he will immediately dispatch emergency services and alert the family members as soon as he gets an alert.
|Cost||$29.99/mo – $79.99/mo|
|Screen size||46 mm x 36 mm|
|Dimension||13.3 x 3.8 x 13.3 cm|
8. Emporia Smart.2
Emporia Smart.2 is easy to use and a more uncomplicated phone making it suitable for seniors. The phones come with a crisp 5-inch HD display.
Emporia Smart.2 is preinstalled with a customized version of Android 6.0 Marshmallow, which makes the device quite simple and easy to use.
The phone has a built-in LED flashlight and a robust 2,400mAh battery. The rear camera is 8MP, and the front camera is 2MP which is perfect for making video calls with the family members.
The phone comes equipped with an emergency button which once pressed, will ring five numbers which have been pre-saved. The button is covered up by an additional backplate to prevent it from getting pressed by accident.
|Dimension||138 x 69.5 x 10 mm|
9. Jitterbug Smart 2 phone
Ever since the phone was released a few years ago, it has been the pet of many seniors, earning a great place among the list of senior-friendly phones.
The phone comes in dark grey and white color. At the front, there is a 1-inch monochrome external display that shows necessary information such as caller ID, time & date. The phone comes with a sleek design and is comfortable to hold.
A rubber cushion surrounding the speaker gives comfort when held against the ear. The entire design of ear cushions is engineered to accommodate hearing aids.
The main display is 2.2-inch with 65,000 colors. The emergency button is another unique feature designed to give alerts in the event of a mishap.
|Dimension||152 x 79 x 10.2 mm|
10. LG B470
Being one of the largest smartphone makers, LG has done a great job in bringing out LG B470 fitted with lots of senior-friendly features.
The phone has big buttons, bright and enhanced display,1.3-megapixel camera, and 3G UMTS network connectivity.
The phone also comes with a Senior Audio Mode that enhances audio for senior users.
The text to speech key is an added advantage for seniors with limited eyesight.The phone is very well compatible with a wide variety of hearing aids to support seniors with hearing issues.
|Screen size||2.2 “|
|Battery||950 mAh battery|
|Dimension||98 x 51.1 x 18.5 mm|
With the advancement of technology, seniors can now enjoy greater freedom and comfort, which was not possible previously. Cell phone makers have come up with several senior-friendly features that include an emergency SOS button, extra-large icons, and live health monitoring features.
If you are planning to get a cell phone for a loved senior member in the family, make sure to get one with an emergency help button, which often comes in handy during medical emergencies. Needless to mention, understand the requirements of the user and look for a phone that accommodates their needs lovingly!