Cell phone usage among seniors may have taken a while to catch on, but it’s now commonplace. According to the Pew Research Center, 77% of adults aged 65 and older own a cell phone, up from 69% in 2012; moreover, 18% of those 65 and older own a smart phone. There are so many phones and plans available—how on earth do you choose the right one? A recent article on Bankrate.com provided questions you should ask yourself when phone shopping:


  • What do you need the phone to do? If you only need basic smart phone functions, such as checking email, taking photos and texting, a “semi-smart phone” might be sufficient for you. Some examples include the Kyocera Jitterbug Touch 2 or Samsung Galaxy Stratosphere II.


  • Do you need special accommodations?
    • For the hearing-impaired, captioning or relay services can be added for free; the data required for these services is not free, however, so make sure you have a data plan that supports them. All devices are rated for hearing aid compatibility. This information can be found on the service provider’s website or through the FCC.
    • For dexterity issues, adding a stylus—a tool that helps you navigate touch screens with more precision—can be helpful. You can also choose a phone with a keyboard that slides out, such as the LG Enact. Adding insurance in case of a dropped phone may not be a bad idea, either.
    • Seniors with memory issues can add a phone locator, either as an app or as a device that is attached to the phone.


  • Should you get a contract? Pre-paid and no-contract phones are a great option for retirees on a fixed income; however, a contract plan that includes voice, data and texting may be worth the added cost if you plan to regularly go online and stream videos.


  • Is a smart phone necessary? If all you need is the ability to text and talk, stick with a flip phone. Some companies make phones with senior-friendly features, such as larger buttons and enhanced sound quality.


AARP is a good resource for helping you learn how to use your smart phone. Explore their online Technology Education Center for how-tos and information, as well as schedules for their in-person workshops.


Source: “What seniors should look for in a phone,” Bankrate.com, August 2014


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