How to Choose the Right Phone for a Senior

By Michelle Cemental

Cell phones are vital tools — especially for seniors who live alone. Having a phone allows seniors to call for help in an emergency, stimulate their mind, and reduce social isolation. Knowing that an aging loved one has a cell phone can also provide peace of mind to family members. However, when getting a phone for a senior, it’s important to get the right one for their circumstances. Some seniors may be able to figure out a smartphone with ease, while others may want a simpler piece of technology.

Let’s review some of the factors to consider when purchasing a phone along with some great options for seniors.

Considerations When Purchasing a Phone for a Senior

Whether you love Apple or Android, everyone has a preference when it comes to their phone. Seniors are no different. They have their opinions and preferences too, which is why it’s important to take those into consideration when investing in a phone for them.

Here are some factors to consider when determining which phone is best for your aging loved one’s and preferences:

  1. Does your loved one want or need Internet access? Some seniors might not want or need all that comes with having a phone connected to the Internet. If they want to keep it simple, a flip phone may be a better option than a smartphone.
  2. Does the phone have large print options? Many seniors have trouble with their eyesight and will need a phone that can accommodate large letters.
  3. How large should the screen be? Most seniors who buy smartphones prefer a larger screen, but people with smaller hands sometimes struggle to use those phones.
  4. How large should the on-screen keyboard be? Do you do better with a physical keyboard? If your loved one has trouble with small keyboards, you may want to consider a phone that has a larger screen and touch keyboard or a phone with a physical keyboard that slides out. However, if these keyboards are still too small, you may want to consider a tablet.
  5. Will your loved one use the device to take and store pictures? Seniors love to take and show off pictures of their family or the places they have visited. If your loved one will use the phone as a camera, you may want to consider phones that have highly rated cameras and large enough storage capacity.
  6. What kind of health monitoring do you need? Smartphones have the capability to sync with various apps that can help track and monitor health. If this is a concern for your loved one, you may want to consider a newer smartphone.

Whether your aging loved one wants a smartphone or a flip phone, we have some great options below for you to consider.

Best Flip Phone for Seniors

Seniors who don't want a smartphone might be better off with a flip phone. Here are some of the top flip phones for seniors.

  1. Jitterbug Flip. The Jitterbug Flip is a basic phone designed for seniors. It is a voice-only flip phone that doesn’t have access to the Internet. However, it has large buttons, a screen with extra contrast, voice dial, and a decent camera, making it a great option for the elderly. It includes a flashlight that doubles as a reading magnifier. Plus, the Jitterbug Flip includes the 5Star urgent response button, which allows for a one-touch call to an urgent response agent who can call an ambulance or family. It also includes a health hotline. The Jitterbug Flip comes with a few games that are designed to help keep the mind sharp. It works on the specialist GreatCall network.
  2. LG Exalt. Available with Verizon, the LG Exalt has good performance and battery life. With 10 days of standby time, this model makes it a great phone for people who forget to charge their phone. It can be used as a mobile hotspot. It has no external display but has a good internal screen with large fonts, as well as big buttons, including a dedicated camera button. It also boasts good media playback. One downside is that the LG Exalt does not have GPS capabilities, which means it can't be used for navigation. It also lacks a camera.
  3. Doro PhoneEasy. Like the Jitterbug Flip, the Doro PhoneEasy is a voice-only phone with no Internet. However, it's inexpensive, easy-to-use, and has a keypad with large buttons. It has a programmable emergency alert button that calls a specific emergency contact, such as a family member. It's supported by Consumer Cellular, which uses AT&T and T-Mobile, giving better coverage than single-network providers. It's also known for providing quality noise cancellation, making it a great phone for those with poor hearing. The phone is also compatible with hearing aids.
  4. Snapfon ezTWO3G. Finally, the Snapfon ezTWO3G is another great phone designed for seniors. The emergency button, which is on the outside of the phone, alerts up to 5 responders via text message. One of these responders can be a monitoring center. The phone features a siren that can get the attention of anyone in the area. It switches to speaker mode for these calls. The phone is easy to use and has a speaking keyboard, making it ideal for seniors who have never bothered with a cellphone.

Best Smartphones for Seniors

If your senior wants a smartphone for access to internet and social media, then there are many options. Here are some of the best:

  1. Jitterbug Smart2. Greatcall's Jitterbug Smart2 has a large (but not too large) screen, voice typing, front-facing speaker, and good battery life. Like their flip phone, it comes with a dedicated 5Star Urgent Response button. The user ID has been reprogrammed to have a menu with large text items so seniors don’t have to hunt for apps through screens of icons. It can, however, download any apps from Google Play. It also features an app that updates family members about a senior’s health.
  2. ASUS ZenFone Max Pro M2. If you're loved one has had a smartphone for years and wants good performance, the Zenfone Max Pro M2 is a great (and not overly expensive) option. The battery can last for 2 days of non-stop use, and the smartphone has a high-quality screen. It also comes with multiple cameras, so seniors can take stunning photos of their family members or the sights they visit.
  3. Samsung Galaxy S8. Although the most expensive on our list, Samsung Galaxy comes unlocked and can be used with low-cost plans may make up for the higher price tag. Samsung phones in general offer advantages for seniors. They have "Easy Mode," which reconfigures the home screen, producing a simpler layout and larger fonts while leaving the phone’s capabilities in tact. The phone also has voice menu navigation, some water resistance, a fantastic camera, and lots of memory.

Best Plan Options for Seniors

Now that we’ve covered the best type of phone for seniors, let’s consider cellular plans for senior-friendly phones.

  • If your loved one already has a full-feature plan from a major carrier, then you may be able to remain on that plan even with a senior-friendly phone.
  • Low-cost carriers are an option if seniors have an unlocked phone. They often have a limited choice of network-specific phones. Some voice-only plans can be as low as $10 a month, and plans with data are often less than $50.
  • If the carrier allows, you may be able to add your senior to your own family plan. This can potentially help your loved one get a better rate for their coverage.
  • Greatcall is the network used by Jitterbug phones. It uses the Verizon network and has specialized health monitoring and other features specifically designed for seniors. However, it is limited to Jitterbug devices.
  • Alternatively, Consumer Cellular has high marks for customer service and is recommended by AARP.

In today’s world of technology, seniors need cellphones for their safety and health, as well as for your peace of mind. For more information on how to help seniors improve their quality of life or give your family more peace of mind about an aging loved one, contact Caring Senior Service today.

Tags: Technology