GreatCall Jitterbug Cell Phones for Senior Citizens
GreatCall gave my senior mom the biggest blessing many years ago. As long-time readers may remember, we got the Jitterbug cell phone for her several years ago. At the time, it was the primary cell phone for seniors that was available. And, as I recall, the only one that was a flip phone, which is why I bought it. You handled it much like a regular land-line phone and when you shut it, it automatically turned off. With the bar phones that were popular at the time, you had to take an extra step and push a button to turn it off. For a senior citizen who had very little techy experience, I knew that would be hard for her.
There was a bit of a learning curve with her Jitterbug but not much. Back then they were large and uber simple cell phones and that’s exactly what she needed and wanted. The O was very central at the bottom, big and easy to push. If she couldn’t figure things out, she knew she could push O, get the operator and ask for help. That was perfect as she had grown up in the era when you could call the operator directly and get a wide variety of help including getting phone numbers, being directed to the police emergency line, and even being able to request an emergency cut-in if someone was on the phone and you needed to talk to them due to an emergency. Good grief, do you realize we can rarely do that anymore! And rarely need to! I just tried on my own iPhone and merely got a message from my carrier to dial my number. Then I tried on my home line and got a message that if it was an emergency, call 9-1-1. BUT if I couldn’t get 9-1-1 AND it was a true emergency, dial O again. I didn’t, but that did give me a measure of “comfort” to know I COULD have. WOW! The times, they are a’changing!
And that’s true for GreatCall’s Jitterbug as well. As great as it worked and as much as we loved that simple Jitterbug, they updated it. In many ways, they made it much better. In a couple ways, they made it a bit harder – at least for my senior mom. They added a camera, texting, and a red button called 5 Star. This enables seniors who need emergency assistance to get it much quicker by pushing just the button. Overall, I really appreciate it. I went to their website and updated both my senior mom AND another sweet senior in my life with emergency contact information, medical and medication information, etc. Now, if they are home alone and push that button but can’t talk, GreatCall can get in touch with me or another family member to get them the help they will need. And if they can’t get any of us, GreatCall operators can call the emergency services in our area and have info to give the medical team that will help our loved ones in a time of crisis. AWESOME. One downside to it, which is more a headache for Great Call than us, is that my sweet mom occasionally hits the 5Star button accidentally. On her current phone, it’s right next to the YES button and very easy to do. Of course, we just explain what happened and they are always awesome and patient about it.
Bigger Flip Phone and Smart Phone for Seniors
GreatCall has come out with two more new senior-friendly phones with even more interesting options. I was quite excited when they offered to let me use them for a few weeks and share the information with y’all. So, of course, I said YES. When I got them, I realized that they were customizing their cell phones for a more tech-savvy group of senior citizens.
The first is quite similar to my senior mom’s but a bit bigger and with the keys in different spots. I was a bit concerned when I opened it to a menu that requires the user to have to make choices, scroll, etc. No problem for me, of course. But a MEGA stumbling block for my senior mom. No worries, though. I checked the owner’s manual and discovered that all I had to do was – you guessed it – DIAL O. Sure enough, a very cheery voice answered, transferred me to tech, and in less than 5 minutes, she had made the adjustment I needed. Then I just had to close it and wait. In less than an hour, VOILA, back to the normal screen of seeing phone numbers. I always make sure it’s in order of what she uses most. My number is first followed by her sweet sisters, etc. (Since this is a review phone, I didn’t change the order 😉 ).
While chatting with the operator, I asked about the simpler Flip cell phone my senior mom has. I was concerned they would phase it out. (As nice as the new phones are, she does very well on the phone she has and might have a hard time if she had to change.) I was thrilled to hear it should be around for a very long time. It’s the least expensive, easiest, and smallest phone which is perfect for her.
BUT baby boomers are entering senior citizen status each day. Many are used to tech or even tech-savvy (like me). For them, these new Great Call cell phones do offer some terrific options in a senior-friendly way.
The updated Flip Phone has large buttons, large screens and text, a simple menu, voice dial, a powerful speaker, a magnifier with LED flashlight (I have apps for those and LOVE them!!!!) and the 5Star emergency button. All great for aging boomers and seniors. For the safety-conscious, there is a medication and refill reminder coach, a daily automated check-in call option, daily health tips, and more. And don’t forget the fun – like the built-in camera with flash, texting options (many of our grandkids prefer to text rather than call so this can mean more grandkid communication), and two brain games.
The biggest of these sweet cell phones for seniors is the Jitterbug Smart – and as you may guess, it is indeed a smart phone for seniors! It features big print and big buttons which is nice. I’m not at that point where it’s dire, but it sure would come in handy. (I can make my buttons bigger on my iPhone but it does tend to make things look messier so for now, I’m staying smaller. 🙂 ).
Like it’s smaller brother the Flip, it offers phone, text, and camera. It has a button labeled Photo Album (the Flip just calls it My Photos). And the brain games (which includes a brain fitness newsletter).
Jitterbug Adds Brain Games to Cell Phones for Seniors
I tried to set up the Brain games but must have mistyped my password. In the process of figuring it out, I switched to my Mac which made it much easier to work with. While doing that I learned that Brainquest has 4 free games, along with more if you subscribe for a small amount per month. That might be something you want to consider and if not, you might not want to sign up at all. I would check it out with your senior parent.
Here are the games for each phone:
The Jitterbug Flip cell phone includes:
- Quick Match – improve focus by retraining your brain to focus its attention
- Make a Pair – sharpen your memory by improving your brain’s ability to record what it sees
The Jitterbug Smart cell phone includes:
- Divided Attention – challenge your brain to focus in on and react to particular details
- Target Tracker – help build divided attention by tracking several moving objects
- Hawk Eye – train your visual precision and exercise your field of view
- Visual Sweeps – speed up visual processing to notice more of what’s around, react to it more quickly, and remember it better
According to BrainHQ’s website:
“BrainHQ is a brain-training system built and tested by an international team of top neuroscientists and other brain experts. Unlike other brain-training programs, BrainHQ is proven to work—dozens of published papers (and counting) show real benefits from using exercises in BrainHQ. This research shows cognitive benefits (such as better memory and faster processing) as well as real-life benefits (such as safer driving and better hearing in noisy places). No other program has this level of proof.”
That does sound like a useful tool for many. I tried one of the games and it was interesting. But got faster and faster. I have to admit, I prefer to keep my brain active with writing, blogging, and playing with grandkids and granddogs. But my husband would have enjoyed it. He always liked beating his last score at computer games, so this would have been right up his alley. 😉
More items of interest about the Jitterbug Smart:
- The screen on the Jitterbug Smart cell phone for seniors got dark half way through signing up for brain games. You might check that setting right from the get-go. I went to settings (not to be mistaken for Google Settings, scrolled down to display, and turned off adaptive brightness. I don’t want my phone to decide how much light I need (and I do need bright light). You’ll have to decide which you or your senior parent prefers.
- While scrolling around in settings I spotted an option to turn on a One-Touch option. I gave it a try and what do you know. Icons like I see on my own iPhone. I prefer those, and my senior mom has gotten used to them thanks to her iPad with all her great-grandkid photos. But I think this option could be a great one for many seniors who aren’t used to the icons.
- As you type, you’ll feel a slight vibration. Overall, I think that will be a big help for many seniors to assure them they actually did type. But for the first few touches, it made me feel like, “yikes, what did I do.” 😉
- Make sure you keep the owner’s manual handy for the first few days. I am very tech-savvy and used to working with a variety of cell phones. I did use the manual a few times. (I give that advice with all cell phones – even my iPhone 🙂 ).
- My Jitterbug smart phone for seniors came set up with SETTINGS – GESTURES —> Turn over to mute incoming calls AND turn over to snooze alarm clocks. That could be confusing for some senior citizens, so you might want to adjust that from the beginning.
- This is an Android smart phone for senior citizens. If you’ve used Android successfully in the past, I’m guessing you will love this even more. I’m definitely going to tell my sweet mother-in-law about it. I think it will be much easier for her than the Android she currently has.
- It already comes with large print and easy accessibility. BUT there is an accessibility menu under settings with even more choices for special needs.
- Like the normal Androids, you can add services, apps, etc, including the ability to print directly from this via wifi. Very handy!
- Be careful, and warn your senior parents – the 5Star button at the bottom does call their emergency operator. If you hit it accidentally (and where it’s located, I think that might be an easy thing to do) don’t be startled when a voice asks if you are having an emergency. As I said before, my senior mom has done that several times and we’re quite used to it (well, I am anyway 😉 ). They are ALWAYS great, patient, and helpful. And honestly, that 5Star emergency button, along with the operator O are my two favorite things about this phone, along with the GPS that it now offers. That gives me some peace of mind that, if either of my moms has an emergency, they have good resources (my m-i-l has the Splash emergency pendant). And so do I. If I am trying to call one of them and can’t get them, I can call GreatCall directly and ask THEM to contact my parent through their device. And they can! IF you set up the emergency information ahead of time AND confirm that it is all spelled correctly. That’s a lesson we learned the hard way a while back. But all worked out fine and now they’re both set up completely.
GreatCall is a GREAT CALL for Cell Phones for Seniors
So what’s the bottom line? Buying a GreatCall cell phone for elderly parents, as well as boomers and seniors, can definitely be a great call on your part! I very much appreciate both my moms having their equipment. My senior mom does still have her Philips Lifeline Fall Alert Pendant and I’m glad! I want her to have both. She never takes that pendant off. If she falls unconscious, she’ll have help. Eventually both moms will probably have that. But it only works around the house. Thanks to the GPS in the GreatCall Jitterbug smart phones for seniors as well as the Splash emergency pendant, they have extra protection if they are out and about. Or if they get lost on a walk accidentally. I highly recommend these easy to use cell phones for seniors! They’re great for our senior parents with a good variety of options to match varying technical skills. 🙂