4 Ways Your Older Parent Can Benefit from a Mobile Phone

Mobile technology can be daunting to even the most savvy of seniors. But now the advantages of staying connected vastly outweigh any device learning curve. Here are some things to keep in mind while considering a phone for your elderly relative.

As our parents grow older, being in touch becomes ever more important. An accidental fall or getting locked out of the house can suddenly put a landline phone out of their reach. But knowing that a mobile phone is always handy can bring both generations peace of mind.

On the other hand, if your parent is highly mobile and mentally sharp, Mom or Dad may enjoy having a smartphone to stay connected to the grandkids, play word game apps and navigate their way to new adventures.

According to Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life project, while 85 percent of all adults own cell phones, just over half of adults 65 and older have made the leap to mobile devices. Those who haven’t may avoid mobile phones out of personal concerns about change or new technology, because of hearing or vision problems, or simply because they haven’t seen a need for them. But having a phone handy can actually help our loved ones over 65 retain more of their independence.

Keep active through social media

Pew Internet has also found that social media use among those over 50 has more than doubled in the past few years, so introduce your folks to a new way of connecting to family and friends, young and old. Reaching out to friends from the past and creating a broad social network can help your parent stay active and energetic. Internet dating among seniors is also on the rise for those who’ve lost loved ones or are recently divorced.

Go mobile—across town or around the country

Your older relatives can navigate through town or to a new destination with apps such as VZ Navigator. They can find the stores and restaurants that appeal to them. And if they forget their grocery list, they can call home to see what they need to pick up.

For those over 65 who are ready to embrace a more mobile lifestyle, a smartphone may be just the ticket. With a more advanced phone, your older parents can hit the road in their retirement RV while staying in touch with friends and family at home through email, text, pictures and social media. When elderly family members get lost on the open road, need health information or just want to pass the time, a smartphone can prove to be a blessing for the whole family.

Stay connected to the grandkids

No one is more plugged into technology than kids and teens. Grandparents can use that to their advantage to forge a closer bond with their grandkids. The grandchildren will love seeing just-shot pictures of Nana at the Grand Canyon or video of Poppy standing next to the World’s Largest Ball of Twine. And they can share their latest updates—from losing a tooth to hitting a home run—whether Grandma is gardening, grocery shopping or visiting friends in Tucson.

Get help in case of an emergency

Family members may feel reassured that their seniors could easily call if they are in need or have a medical incident. Emergency contact information can be stored in the phones, allowing Good Samaritans to alert you if Mom or Dad has a medical issue while running errands alone. And of course a mobile phone is perfect for life’s little curveballs, such as when the car breaks down miles from home.

Finding the right phone

If your parent is hesitant about getting a more modern mobile phone, finding a simple, basic phone might be a good way to put them at ease and make everyone happy. (For those seniors who’d be comfortable with a smartphone, one of Verizon’s free Wireless Workshops can help them learn how to use it.) The key is to find something with the functionality you think they will need coupled with a really simple user interface.

For ideas on the perfect phones for seniors, see Plans, Devices and Phones for Seniors.

It’s also a good idea to get a basic phone case (the Universal Horizontal Pouch is a good starter option) in order to protect against the occasional phone fumble or fall from a pocket.

Help for the hearing or visually impaired

If the user wears a hearing aid, consider a phone that meets or exceeds Microphone Rating and Telecoil Rating guidelines from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). (Again, the Gusto 2 is a good choice, as it does well in this category). Learn more about hearing aid compatibility for mobile phones and view information about ANSI standards. Nationwide messaging plans are also available. These plans are designed for deaf or hard-of-hearing customers and include Unlimited Messaging to anyone on any network in the U.S.

For those who need a little more help, Verizon offers solutions for visually impaired users, including voice commands and free 411 assistance.

Choosing a mobile phone plan

If your relative needs a lot of voice minutes, data or just the basics, Verizon has the plan. And for those folks who just want a mobile phone for basic communication and emergencies, Verizon offers specially priced Nationwide 65 Plus Plans for customers 65 and older.

So whether your parents need a reliable link to the outside world in case of emergency or want to stay in touch the modern way while living the retirement dream, you can help them find the right device, plan and solution for their specific needs. You’ll rest a little easier knowing Mom and Dad are always just a phone call away.

This article was written by an author contracted by Verizon’s Insider's Guide to provide helpful information on wireless technology. The thoughts, opinions and suggestions of the author may not necessarily reflect those of Verizon Wireless.

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