Dear Savvy Senior,
Can you recommend some basic simplified cellphones for seniors with hearing loss? My 82-year-old father needs to get a new cellphone for occasional calls or emergencies, but he needs something that's easy to use and one that he can hear on.
There are several simplified cellphones on the market today that are specifically designed for seniors - including those with hearing loss. These are basic cellphones that come with big buttons, easy to navigate menus, SOS emergency buttons, enhanced sound and are hearing aid compatible too. Here are some top options.
If your dad isn't locked into a cellphone contract, there are three senior-friendly options to consider, all from no-contract cellphone companies.
One of best is GreatCall's Jitterbug5 (greatcall.com, 800-918-8543). This custom designed Samsung flip-phone offers a backlit keypad with big buttons, large text on a brightly colored screen, and "YES" and "NO" buttons to access the phone's menu of options versus confusing icons.
It also offers voice dialing, a powerful speakerphone, a built-in camera, and a variety of optional health and safety features like the "5Star" medical alert button that would let your dad call for help and speak to a certified agent 24/7 that could identify his location and dispatch help as needed. "Urgent Care," which provides access to registered nurses and doctors for advice and diagnoses. And "GreatCall Link," which keeps family members informed through your dad's phone activities.
The Jitterbug5 sells for $99 with a one-time $35 activation fee, no-contract, and calling plans that start at $15 per month.
If you're looking for something a little less expensive, the Doro PhoneEasy 626 sold through Consumer Cellular (consumercellular.com, 888-345-5509) is an excellent option.
This flip phone offers a backlit, separated keypad that can speak the numbers as you push them, which is a nice feature for seniors with vision problems. It also has a big easy to read color display screen that offers large text with different color themes.
Other handy features include two speed dial buttons, shortcut buttons to texting and the camera, a powerful two-way speakerphone, and a ICE (in case of emergency) button on the back of the phone that will automatically dial one preprogramed number.
The Doro 626 sells for $50 with service plans starting at $10 per month, and no long-term contract. They even offer discounts to AARP members.
Another budget-friendly cellphone you should look into is the Snapfon ezTWO for seniors (snapfon.com, 800-937-1532), which costs under $20, with a $35 activation fee, no-contract, and monthly service plans that start at $10. If you don't want the Snapfon service plan (you can go through AT&T or T-Mobile), the phone is $80.
This is a bar-style phone that provides big buttons, a color screen, enhanced volume with a speaker phone, a speaking keypad, and an SOS emergency alert button on the back of the phone that can sound an alert when pushed and held down for five seconds. It then sends a text message to as many as five emergency contacts and calls those contacts in order until the call is answered. Or, for an additional $15 per month you can subscribe to their SOS monitoring service that will dispatch help as needed.
Shared Plan Options
If you want to get your dad a simple cellphone through your cellphone provider, most carriers - like AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile - still offer a few basic cellphones that are inexpensive and hearing aid compatible.
If you're an AT&T customer the option is the "LG A380." For Verizon users, there's the "Samsung Gusto 3" and "LG Revere 3." If you're a Sprint customer there's the "Kyocera Kona" and "Alcatel OneTouch Retro." And for T-Mobile users there's the "LG 450."
Editor's Note: Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of "The Savvy Senior" book.