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Do seniors need smartphones?

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It seems that the older generation loves to reminisce on the times when we didn’t have screens to stare at constantly. Smartphones can cause car accidents, people walk into streets, and people are consumed in their own little bubbles.

But technology can also be seen as a way to connect. Pew Research states that 82% of smartphone-owning seniors describe their phone as freeing. Only 64% of those ages 18-29 have the same sentiment. Even fewer elderly smartphone owners (18%) describe their phone as “a leash” compared to double (36%) of those under age 30.

Why is it that the elderly and young people view this technology so differently? Is it important for seniors to start using and embracing this technology even if it may seem overwhelming or difficult to use?

How do we use our smartphones?

This isn’t about necessarily “how to use a smartphone”, we want to discuss the role smartphones play in our lives. Pew Research Center found that younger adults use their phones for a wide range of purposed such as to relieve boredom and to avoid those around them. Older Americans mainly use their phones for basic features like calls, email, and texting.

The reason is likely that older Americans are less likely to be online. Also, only 27% of those ages 65 and older have a smartphone compared to 85% of 18-19 year olds.

Another reason seniors tend to use just the basic functions of their phones is due to medical conditions like poor eyesight or hearing that make it difficult to use other features. Pew also stated that many older Americans are skeptical of the benefits of having a smartphone.

But that doesn’t mean all seniors are Luddites. Their study showed that in 2014, half of seniors using the internet were on Facebook.

Why use a smartphone?

Yes, the smartphone has been to blame for young people not connecting with those around them, but the smartphone has many beneficial features that are not as news-worthy as a teen walking into the street while playing on their phone.

These beneficial features include:

  • Video calls
  • Camera
  • Access to real-time news (Twitter, news apps)
  • Mobile banking and payments
  • Maps and navigation (Google Maps)

 

What will get more seniors to use smartphones?

One answer is education.

Smartphones don’t come with user manuals, and even if they did it would still be overwhelming and confusing to use the device especially if it’s your first time.

Getting educators into nursing homes or senior centers, hosting community smartphone sessions at the library are great ways to show seniors the benefits of learning to use one.

Once they’re able to see that they can Skype their kids and relatives, and are able to figure out how to use it, they may want to jump on board.

But don’t pressure them. They’ve lived nearly their entire lives without one, and many will put their foot down about getting one. The next best solution is to get them a senior-friendly phone. There are some available with large buttons and screens that display big numbers for easier visibility.


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Top apps for seniors

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If you’re a tech-savvy senior, or maybe you want to get your loved one an iPad or smartphone to start using, you’ll want to download some of these helpful apps for seniors.

It really is true that there’s an app for everything. Upon beginning our search into iTunes and the Google Play Store (the main app centers for Apple and Android phones) we noticed apps for detecting falls, medicine, games, health, food, and more.

It’s not surprising that some enterprising app developers decided to hit upon the senior market.

Here are some of the best apps out there for seniors.

Pillboxie (iPad and iPhone)
This app will help you remember which medicine to take and when. It seems simple enough to use, and you won’t have to worry about whether or not you took something any longer. $1.99

EyeReader (iPhone)
This app turns your phone’s camera into a magnifying glass. Useful for when you’re at a restaurant our need to read some fine print. $1.99

Lumosity
Lumosity offers games to help enhance your memory and attention. Play some games and feel good doing it! Free

Flipboard
If you love reading and discovering new articles, you’ll get addicted to Flipboard. You can create different topics or follow certain publications so you’re always on top of the latest news. Free

Skype
Stay in touch with friends and family through video! You may need to make an account, but after that the app is simple enough to use. Free

Word with Friends
This is a fun game based on Scrabble that allows you to play against friends in real time. Free

Facebook
Keep up with your family and friends with the Facebook app. You will need to set up a profile if you don’t already have one. A family member will be able to help you.

Weather Channel App
Check the weather for the day and the week ahead so you always know what to wear before you head outside. It’s especially useful here in Florida so you know the likelihood it will rain, since it can rain at any moment. Free

Mint
This personal finance app helps you see all of your financial information at a glance. Keep track of where you’re spending the most money and how well your accounts are doing. Free

NPR
The NPR One app lets you stream and listen to all your favorite NPR shows. Free

Voice Reading
This Android app will read text to you from the internet, messages, and emails. Very helpful for when you can’t read the small font on the screen. Free

Looking to learn how to use an Android phone? Here is a video on the Samsung Galaxy series of phones to help beginners get familiar with certain features.


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The Best Cell Phones for Seniors

Best Cell Phones for Seniors

It is hard to imagine a time when we didn’t have constant access to our phones. When was the last time you had to use a payphone? Most of them are gone now, because cell phones have become so ubiquitous. For many senior citizens though, cell phones are difficult to get used to. The buttons on many are small, the screen text is hard to read, and there are many complicated menu settings. It is a great idea to get for family member a cell phone, as it will ensure you have constant contact with them. If they are required to stay in bed, it may be difficult for them to get up and reach their home phone. Below we will go over two of the best cell phones for seniors.

Snapfon ezTWO3G

Snapfon styles itself best cellphones for seniorsas “the cellphone for seniors”. The phone was designed with large buttons and numbers for those with less than optimal sight. There are simple menus, an LED flashlight, enhanced volume and speaker capabilities, and a speaking keypad. The phone is also hearing aid compatible. A large SOS emergency button on the back of the phone, if help for 3-5 seconds will alert up to five responders by voice and text. A loud siren also goes off, so anyone nearby can hear that the user is in need of help. The phone can be used on Snapfon’s plan or, for an extra charge, unlocked to be used on a GSM cell provider (not Verizon or Sprint).

Jitterbug 5best cellphones for seniors

This is a simple, affordable device is one of the best cell phones for seniors. The keypad features large numbers and buttons that are easy to see. They are even backlit so you can see them in the dark. You can use the Jitterbug with hearing aids (M4/T4). A great feature about this phone is that it can hold its charge in stand-by mode for up to 25 days. The screen features large text and the menu has Yes/No questions rather than a confusing menu. The phone also has a camera. The most basic plan starts at $14.99 a month.