The older generation that grew up with a landline phone is rapidly converting to wireless options. The Pew Research Center shows that over 80% of Americans over the age of 65 own a cell phone of any kind. It is an essential way for senior citizens to communicate with their family and friends. The transition from landline to a mobile phone is often very challenging for many seniors who are not tech-savvy. They try to embrace new mobile technology by getting a big button cell phone. But is a big button cell phone really the best option for seniors?
The pros and cons of big button cell phone
The good news is that there are many companies that design phones targeting senior citizens who are not familiar with using cell phones but understand the benefits and are willing to try it. Big button cell phone is helpful especially when it comes to seniors with memory loss, vision or hearing impairment due to illness or advanced age. The amplified sound is usually very clear, the buttons are large, and overall, seniors feel more comfortable using them.
But what about other features that seniors can enjoy but are not available on big button phones? Sharing pictures with loved ones, sending messages, or playing online games are only some of the features which could be fun for seniors. Limited functionality together with the high prices of the phone service can definitely be a drawback.
Are smartphones as smart as we want them to be?
Phones that are “smart” are just as beneficial to seniors as big button ones, but they too, bring challenges. With so many different capabilities, smartphones can be a bit overwhelming for seniors who are in the transition phase between a regular landline and a cell phone. Some seniors can adjust pretty fast and enjoy all the new features. Some are just lost in the cluttered home screens and are scared to touch them let alone to use them.
There are ways to make smartphone more approachable. You can remove all but the most commonly-used apps from the home screen and make it simpler, or increase the font size to help the user see the writing. But there are still challenges.
A small keyboard is problematic to type on for people with diminished motor skills. Also, a smartphone screen may simply be too small for those who have decreased visual acuity.
Even after you set up the smartphone to make it look more senior-friendly, you have to spend time explaining what each application icon means and how to use it. It might take weeks for your senior to understand how it really works. There is a big chance that when they start using it, they push the wrong button and the whole interface will change again.
A tablet with an innovative approach
With a big button phone being too simple and a smartphone being too complex, a need arose to create a solution which is in between. Instead of creating a whole new device, Oscar Senior took a different approach and designed an application that turns your tablet or your phone into a senior-friendly simplified screen for communication, information, and entertainment.
The brightly colored, highly visible big buttons easily identify the main functions of the application and eliminate the need to use a complicated keyboard that is just way too overwhelming for seniors. With a touch of the screen, they can video call their family and friends, access their favorite games, or even read and listen to music.
You can set yourself as the administrator for your senior’s device and help him or her if they get stuck. With the remote access feature, you can change the senior’s settings from your smartphone even if you are miles away.
“I like the fact that I am able to see her screen remotely. I can assist her without having to visit in person,” says Terry about using Oscar Senior.
It also allows sending messages, playing games, or sharing pictures with their contacts. A picture connected to the phone number helps seniors instantly recognize who is calling. It is helpful especially for seniors suffering from Alzheimer’s.
“We really use Oscar Senior a lot. My dad has Alzheimer’s and really relies on it as he lives alone. Oscar Senior is the only device he can call me on!! We do crosswords on it and ‘have dinner together’. I often read to him on it if he has had no visitors or outings that day. Thanks to Oscar Senior, he often thinks I am there,” says Sue.
Make the right choice for your senior
We all understand the importance of communication for the elderly. Staying in touch with the outside world improves the quality of life for seniors, supports independent living, and reduces isolation. Choosing the right device is just as important. Talk to your seniors about their abilities and expectations to build a positive experience and avoid later frustration.