Seniors Missing Out Buying Flip Phones

Technology has the potential to help older adults, especially those who are isolated from friends and family by distance or mobility issues, to stay socially connected, relevant, and valued as members of their communities.  But if you believe some of the ads and guides targeted at older adults, it would be easy to accept that people over the age of 55 are unable to grasp new technology like smartphones or tablets and are best suited to military-grade flip phones that will take a beating when dropped or submerged underwater.   

According to a recent Aging and Health Technology Watch blog, older adults who are encouraged to purchase flip phones are missing out on a host of features that smart devices offer.  With a little assistance from store staff, friends or families, many smartphones can be set up to be simple to use while still providing access to email, text, video chat, and a non-tracking browser to follow news stories or social media posts. 

Samsung’s Easy Mode, for example, can be set up with help in just a few minutes.  For seniors with vision problems, the ability to access information using a voice-controlled assistant is a boon.  The iPhone also has many accessibility features that can help support people with vision, physical and motor, hearing, and learning needs. With a little help and patience, VoiceOver, Zoom or Larger Text features can make a smartphone user-friendly for older adults and people with disabilities. 

As so many discovered during the lock-downs of the global pandemic, technology can be a huge source of information and social interaction for people who may be isolated from others.  Being able to order groceries and household goods online, play virtual games, or listen to the latest news and weather reports gives older adults a greater sense of self-esteem and independence. 

According to the Population Reference Bureau, in 2018, there were 52 million Americans over the age of 65, and with the aging of the Baby Boomer population, it is expected that this number will soar to 95 million by 2060.  Older adults are not only living longer, but this demographic is working longer, is becoming more diverse, and is more educated.   And with Boomers holding more than half of the U.S. household net worth, they have the money to buy the technology that will help them age in place more successfully. 

With a little extra time and a few tweaks, older adults can not only learn how to use the latest technology, but it can also help them live a fuller and more connected life with greater safety and independence.  

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  1. I disagree that it takes little time to set up and learn this stuff! Plus it changes too quickly and is awkward – ever so – in design! admittedly, i don’t have an aptitude for high tech, but i do not need a phone that can re-route a space shuttle, nor one that can access a sherpa in the Himalayas to reserve a llama, or a phone to instruct me on how to fix my toilet. And these IT people who design this stuff – rather than being the smart, hip-nerds they see themselves as, they have no clue about making these things user-friendly. A mistake that normal people dig 0’s and 1’s and get all excited about an algorithm. Or the imagination to realize some of us don’t want the whistles and bells, don’t want to spend time having to learn how to use them. The gyrations involved in what should be a simple thing – ridiculous! And frustrating – I could design a better phone and barely know anything tech-related. It’s obvious, many of the “flaws” – to me, they are signs of subpar logic, very poor design skills, and inability to communicate effectively, sorry! it is not rocket science! Simplify the process, state instructions coherently. I find current tech instructions INCREDIBLY BORING not to mention fairly useless. Yes, I am a bit off-topic but I am not a minority among older people who actually have lives that don’t include spending 90% of our waking hours in front of a screen, nor checking their phones every 15 seconds. At any rate, these phones are needlessly complicated, difficult to operate and physically SO STUPID I DON’T BELIEVE IT POSSIBLE TO MAKE IT WORSE!

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