We live in a world where grandparents are capable of doing as much texting as their grandchildren do. That might sound hard to believe, but it’s true: nearly 93 percent of seniors over 70 years old own a cell phone. It’s clear as day that seniors are catching up with the rest of the world as they join the technology era. But you might ask why a senior would even need a cell phone — after all, they’ve gone most of their life without this kind of technology, right? Well, you may be surprised to learn that it’s very beneficial for seniors to own a cell phone. Let’s talk about why that is.
What Are the Benefits for Seniors Having Cell Phones?
82 percent of smartphone-owning seniors describe their phones as “freeing” and “connecting.”
And that means the typical idea of older Americans not liking technology is totally bunk. Although your grandmother and grandfather grew up without their own cell phone, there are plenty of benefits that come with owning one:
Benefit #1: Assist With Emergencies
Ensuring safety is hard to argue with. So, although we’d like to look on the brighter side, accidents do happen. And when they do, seniors can easily call 911 or a family member if they have access to a cell phone. Some cell phone services like Jitterbug have a 5-Star Urgent Response Service built into their phones, which instantly connects the person to an on-call medical and safety expert.
Benefit #2: Keeps Seniors Social
Seniors grew up in a time when most socialization was done in-person, but today you may be surprised to learn that 45 percent of seniors over 65 years old use Facebook.
Life can become stagnant if you are retired, or physically disabled, or live alone. With access to a smartphone, seniors can download social media apps like Facebook and have a constant flow of socialization. Plus, how cool is it to be able to text and FaceTime your grandma?
Benefit #3: Offers Mental Stamina
Who said games are just for kids? There are over 800 thousand mobile games that are available to download from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.
That’s some variety, right? Well, it should be, because 43 percent of cell phone owners use their cell phones to play mobile games. And quite a few of these games are built to improve cognitive abilities, which are extremely beneficial to senior citizens who may not be exercising their minds as much anymore.
Puzzle games, for example, help improve memory, motor skills, attention, and visual and partial spacing. Not to mention that playing cognitive-building games are a great way to help prevent memory loss.
Benefit #4: Access To Date And Time
As we age, we become more forgetful. It just happens naturally.
You know that feeling: you wake up knowing it’s a work day, but you can’t remember which day of the week it is. The truth is, sometimes the days blend together. And it’s normal for seniors to lose track of the date and time once in a while— and a calendar is only as reliable as the person using it.
Most cell phones provide a helpful calendar app that can be easily accessible, used to provide notices and warnings of important dates, and small enough that seniors can bring it with them wherever they go.
You don’t need all the fancy bells and whistles to use a cell phone’s calendar to schedule important dates, like appointments, due dates, or social gatherings. Depending on the cell phone, you could also program reminders or alarms to help remind seniors of important things, like taking daily medications.
Benefit #5: They Give Family Some Peace Of Mind
It’s easy to think that the worst could happen when you’re not around an aging loved one. You might try to call their landlines but be left with no answer. You might worry that something happened and they aren’t able to call for help. These fears can be put to bed if given the opportunity to contact each other quickly with a cell phone.
Types Of Cell Phones For Seniors
“Smartphones and tablets can be uniquely designed to help seniors with daily needs,” says Ryan Westwood, CEO of Simplus. Phones like Jitterbug are great alternatives to the average cell phone because they are easy to use, have large text, and offer other features that were made with seniors in mind.
There are other types of cell phones to consider, too:
Type #1: Flip Phones
Ah, the classic flip phone. Remember those days? Flip phones are pretty straight-forward and easy to understand. They are good for those who may not want the frills that come with today’s smartphones or don’t need access to the internet.
Type #2: Block Phones
Like flip phones, block phones are simple and easy to use. Except, unlike flip phones, block phones don’t flip open — so they’re great for those struggling with motor skills or have arthritic pain. Nearly 54 million adults have doctor-diagnosed arthritis, so these types of phones may be the simplest solution.
Type #3: Smartphones
78 percent of seniors say that they like going online because it enables them to find the information that they need easily. Smartphones give the ability to go online but do require some learning. Smartphones allow users to video chat with friends and family, socialize online, play games, and stay up-to-date with the news.
Grandma and Grandpa aren’t automatically naive to the ways of today’s technology — nor do they want to be.The reality is totally different: tech resources are incredibly useful and beneficial to seniors.
As you’ve learned, cell phones help seniors by providing immediate care, socialization, mental stimulation, and can even help aid forgetfulness.
“We need to understand that everyone is an individual and one size does not always fit all,” says Dr. Wasserman, M.D., a geriatrician and CEO of Rockport Healthcare Services. “You need to be willing to try things and see how the individual responds.”
No matter the type of cell phone, it’s probably a good idea to consider getting one for an elderly loved one. After all, technology is the future, so isn’t it time for everybody to join?