For some seniors, struggling with technology isn’t just frustrating; it also affects their sense of dignity. A few years ago, I witnessed an iPhone bring a senior relative of mine to tears. A woman who earned a Master’s degree in the late 50’s in a field dominated by men, the unpredictable touchscreen and iOS jargon left her feeling incompetent and undignified. But the fact remains that most seniors can’t avoid using technology in 2020, and cell phones can help keep older adults safe and connected to family during the COVID-19 crisis.
To make seniors more comfortable using a cell phone, Best Buy Health has introduced the Lively Flip, an Alexa-enabled flip phone that lets users navigate its functions with voice commands. Produced by Lively, maker of the Jitterbug phone for seniors, the new phone includes rapid emergency contact and 24-hour telehealth access. According to a survey that Best Buy Health commissioned in September, those three options represent the top features older adults want in a cell phone.
That survey also found that 60% of older adults feel that their cell phone has kept them connected during this time of social distancing. Nearly half of the survey participants said that staying connected via cell phone has increased in importance. Integrating Amazon Alexa into the Lively Flip means that users can simply ask their phone to make a call, check the weather, send a text, and perform other functions.
The Lively Flip includes other senior-friendly features, such as a large screen, big buttons, an intuitive interface, round-the-clock live access to doctors and nurses, ride calling services, and brain games to help older adults stay mentally engaged. An urgent response button immediately connects users with an emergency response agent. The agent dispatches help to the user’s location and remains on the line until that help arrives. The phone also provides live tech support and other assistance.
Voice commands, the phone’s standout feature, will surely attract many older buyers who choose to age-in-place, like my senior relative. Frankly, I wouldn’t mind having voice commands integrated into her 1970s electric stove. The oven timer on that beast uses some strange technology that I’ve never been able to conquer.