With so many devices entering the marketplace throughout the year, it's easy to get confused about the best cell phone for a loved one. In fact, seniors are a primary group who benefit greatly from having a cell phone. They can keep the device by their side at all times, so that they have constant communication with others if they require assistance. It's important to weigh all of the features offered by cell phone plans today because not every model works well for the older generation. Consider some of these factors that make a difference in seniors' lives when contemplating a cell phone plan purchase.
Gauging Phone Use
Before heading to the local cell phone store, research a loved one's phone usage. Some people are content being on their own, whereas others have the phone pressed against their ear for most of the day. This average daily time period on the phone will usually determine the appropriate cell phone plan.
Look for phone plans that range between 200 and 500 minutes if the senior only uses the device very rarely. Selecting a plan with 2,000 minutes or more a month is perfect for talkative seniors. Ideally, these minutes should rollover from month-to-month, so that any unused minutes can be used in the future. It's important to note, however, that rollover minutes typically have an expiration date. Seniors must pay attention to their bills if they talk a lot to friends and family. Extra charges will apply if they go over their monthly minute allotment.
Does Every Bell and Whistle Matter?
Seniors have a completely different set of needs when it comes to their cell phone. Unfortunately, cell phone designers have the younger generation in mind when they build mainstream models. Seniors don't need all of the advertised bells-and-whistles, such as slow motion image capture and other features. These older cell phone users require the basics to be enhanced. The phone's speaker, for example, should be high-quality with crisp, loud sounds. Seniors should be able to hear a conversation using the phone at the ear or activating it in speaker mode.
Specialty cell phone designers usually make their products available through specific provider plans. In fact, a desired device could narrow down the plan choices for family members and seniors. A popular device available today is the Jitterbug. This phone has quality speakers, a clear screen and easy buttons to access. If there's ever an emergency, a simple cell phone could be the difference between immediate and delayed help.
Understanding Cell Phone Commitments
Consumers might marvel at the low-cost price of a particular device, but that charge often comes with a catch. Cell phone providers usually gain their cost back from investing in these devices by setting customers up on two-year contracts. With the fees paid over these two years, the provider gains their cost back on the device itself. Depending on the provider, there are numerous fees with specific names. Activation fees, monthly fees and other charges can quickly add up on a loved one's account.
Ideally, shop around for a cell phone and plan quote. Providers must list out all of the applicable charges on the quote as dictated by state and national regulations. They should even include any applicable tax on the service, so that consumers have an accurate monthly cost. Take a look at every quote in detail to make an educated purchase decision.
Incorporating Medical Assistance into Cell Phone Service
A top priority for any family is senior safety. The standard cell phone can obviously allow a person to dial 911 in an emergency, but seniors may not be able to complete that task under dire circumstances. As a solution, some cell phones and their corresponding plans provide a button or app to access immediate emergency care. An emergency responder, for example, can instantly speak to a senior if they activate the medical system. That type of assistance is often the difference between life and death. However, consumers must be prepared to pay an additional fee for this medical response service. It's usually an additional charge listed on a monthly bill. These response buttons and apps are becoming more widespread as consumers demand them, so they could be available on even more devices in the near future.
If a loved one has a limited budget, the standard two-year commitment might be too expensive to handle. However, many other providers offer alternative devices with no contracts involved. Consumers purchase a device from the provider and pay for a certain amount of minutes, such as $20 for 300 minutes. The device remains on and operational as long as it has minutes applied to its use. Those 300 minutes could be used within a month or even several months. Consumers only add more minutes when the original amount dwindles downward.
This pay-as-you-go option is perfect for seniors who truly need an exclusive emergency line. They might have a home landline that they use for everyday needs. The cell phone would only be for emergencies or short conversations. The cost on these plans is substantially lower than contract plans, so they're worth a glance during the research process.
Texting, Data Plans and More Add-Ons
Costs can rise even higher if consumers want messaging and Internet features added to a loved one's phone. Texting is becoming popular with seniors, and there are plans with unlimited messaging as an affordable option. If they prefer a limited texting amount each month, seniors must keep track of both incoming and outgoing messages. For overall ease with the messaging system, an unlimited plan is the best choice.
Seniors are slowly gaining ground within the online world because they use social media sites to keep up with family members. Their cell phone can easily access the Internet and those social sites, but cellular data charges will apply. If the senior has WiFi at home, they can supplement their Internet usage on the cell phone. They simply need to buy a basic data plan that usually costs around $15 to $20 to access the Internet outside of their WiFi system.
Drawbacks of Big Name Cell Phone Providers
Most cell phone providers focus on younger users because of the profits involved with their demographics' widespread use. It's critical to find a provider who does take the senior age group seriously. These providers will usually have at least one or two cell phone plans available that are geared toward older users. They might even partner with device manufacturers who work exclusively on senior-friendly technology. It's these companies who you want to research further. Their dedication to the senior-age group will only grow in time as more older adults require cell phone technology.
Another drawback to the big providers in the cell phone business is complicated monthly bills. Seniors cannot sift through several pages of calls listed as incoming or outgoing, for example. Take a look at a sample bill to see if the provider in question has simple charge nomenclature. Seniors want to remain independent, and reading their own bill and paying it is part of that freedom.
Experiment with Devices and Coverage Quality
As younger users, consumers might have dealt with dropped calls when they entered a bad cell phone coverage area. Although this is merely frustrating to most people, the situation can be much more serious if it occurs to a senior. They could require medical help, and their phone just won't respond. If possible, borrow and use several friends' cell phones in and around a loved one's home. Test all of the devices and their corresponding providers for dead spots. Ideally, the phone should have a strong signal throughout the senior's home and the surrounding outside area. If consumers discover a large dead spot, document the device type and provider involved. This dead spot doesn't mean the service is entirely bad, but it is lacking in the senior's immediate living space.
Touching Base with Customer Service
When consumers narrow down their choice of cell phones and providers, contact each corresponding customer support number. Consumers want to see how difficult or easy it is to speak to a representative if a loved one requires help. If the voice prompts are too complicated or the wait is entirely too long, consumers need to select another provider. Ideally, a loved one should have a customer support number that's relatively simple to maneuver within and with almost instant communication with a human being.
Customer service is more important for seniors compared to younger adults because they often require an explanation of a service or feature. The provider should be able to offer step-by-step instructions to the senior over the phone in a cordial manner. Hurried representatives on the phone cannot help seniors with their questions on a regular basis.
Consumers might have thoroughly researched a loved one's cell phone type and plan, but there are issues that arise during everyday use. It's important to remember the bigger picture if frustrations arise. Purchasing another phone is possible in the near future, even if there's a commitment period. A loved one simply needs to use the device more frequently to develop a comfort level with it. In the end, it will help every senior in times of need.
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