While the ability to make emergency calls is universally important, older adults may need it the most. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults over the age of 75 visit hospital emergency departments at a rate of about 63 per 100 people each year. That’s the highest of any adult population. And many of these older Americans lack the technology to make emergency calls at their fingertips. A Pew Research Center study found that just 61% of people 65 and older have smartphones. That means that about one third of older Americans can’t call for help with a mobile device. And with today’s complicated smartphones, the need for a simplified cellphone for seniors comes into sharp relief.
The RAZ Memory Cellphone is one such device. Designed for seniors who have difficulty using a traditional cellphone, the RAZ makes it simple to call loved ones or 911. No time outs that put a phone into sleep mode. No swiping and entering passcodes to use the phone. The RAZ always displays a home screen with a 911 dial button and photos of the user’s contacts (up to 6). One press of an image or the 911 button makes a call via voice or video. For users who suffer from physical impairments, the RAZ has modes for low vision and hand tremors.
Perhaps some of the phone’s most notable features aid caregivers, who can configure the phone remotely via an app and an online portal. Caregivers can manage contacts, send reminders, and define “quiet hours” that prevent outgoing calls during pre-set times. GPS tracking offers location information, logging the last 3 places where the phone has been. Caregivers can also remotely see the phone’s battery power, signal strength, and they can disable the power button. An unlocked smartphone, the RAZ works with most major carriers, including Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile.
The RAZ phone does more than protect the physical safety of older adults; there’s a setting that limits incoming calls. This virtually guarantees no scammers, which is no small thing. The National Council on Aging estimates that older adults are fraud victims to the tune of about $1.7 billion annually. The most common of these scams are people who call and impersonate government officials, saying they are with the IRS, and threaten penalties for unpaid taxes. Others threaten to revoke Medicare benefits in order to get personal information. Sweepstakes scams and robo-call scams also commonly target seniors. But they can’t succeed if those calls don’t get through.