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Seniors & Cell Phones: A Dichotomy of Usage

Health & Aging

seniors cell phonesAlthough more than half of all Americans own smart phones, only 18% of older adults own one. However, some 77% of older individuals do own a cell phone. The cell phones they choose are just basic devices with large buttons and limited features. This fact, though, doesn’t mean that cell phone usage is only for the young. It simply means that cell phones are utilized differently by the older generation. While they are the lifeblood of the younger crowd, older adults see them as tools of communication only.

How to Help Older Adults Best Utilize Their Cell Phones:

  • Leave Short, Personalized Messages When You Don’t Catch Your Loved One: When you call and don’t get your loved one on the phone, it is a good idea to leave them a short concise, yet personalized message. Tell them when you plan on calling them back. Then, do your best to follow through with your plan. It is okay to leave a personalized message. But, remember, they will most likely appreciate hearing good news from you instead of over a message. Of course, if the message isn’t that personal or is just informational, leaving it on their voicemail is fine. Just make sure that you have shared with your loved one how to check their messages. After all, it does no good to leave a message for them if they can’t listen to it.
  • seniors on cell phonesDon’t Text Too Much:  In many cases, it’s easier and quicker to send a text message than take the time to make a call. However, in some cases, older adults don’t like texting. Usually, this is because they find it frustrating. Therefore, it’s good to have a conversation with your loved one about texting. For example, explain that sometimes texting is just easier for you but that you understand if they don’t want to text you back. You can just one-side text.  Also, try to limit texting to just short, informative messages and save real news for in person or phone conversations.
  • Share The Fact That They Are Beneficial For Pictures And Keeping in Touch: Cell phones are also a great way for you to share photos with your loved one. Show them how photos can be sent and received via text message. This will reveal to them the benefit that exists in cell phones with regard to sharing photos and memories by allowing them to send as well as receive photos instantaneously. They will also enjoy being able to share photos of their children and grandchildren with their friends at social gatherings by just turning on their phone and opening the photos folder.
  • Teach Them How to Use Their Device:  Senior Living communities like ours at Presbyterian Senior Living teach older adults how to use technology to better their lives. If your loved one doesn’t want to take a class on cell phone use, or one isn’t available for their specific device, you can always teach them how to use their phone yourself. It’s also helpful to preprogram all the numbers they will want to call into their phones so they can see how easy it can be to make a call.

Cell phones are great tools for older adults to use to keep in touch with their family members and friends. Thankfully, there are many options in cell phones, so having a phone with all the bells and whistles isn’t necessary. Your loved one can have even a very basic model and still benefit from the ownership of a cell phone when you implement the above points.

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About Presbyterian Senior Living

Presbyterian Senior Living is a not-for-profit organization, fulfilling its charitable purpose and mission by providing high quality retirement choices, healthcare services and affordable residential living options for people 55 and older for more than 85 years. Headquartered in Dillsburg, Pennsylvania, Presbyterian Senior Living provides services to approximately 6,000 seniors in 30 locations in the mid-Atlantic region of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio and Delaware.

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