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My dad seems to have a lot of trouble on his cell phone lately. He blames the phone but I think it is him. As an example I will call him and he will disconnect rather than answer. He means to answer so then he gets frustrated. He can’t seem to navigate email or text very well. I think he still sees text when I send but I’m not sure. So the question is do the senior designed phones really help? The one I was looking at is the lively jitterbug smart phone 3. But it would require learning something new even if it is ultimately easier to use. I live 4 hours away and really want my dad to have a cell phone. They have a home phone too but for some reason it is hooked up to a fax machine.

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Thanks for all the answers and advice. I think unhooking the fax machine will be helpful. The Raz phone looks pretty good too. Sounds like there may be a time when that won’t work either but I think it will help in the near term. I naively always thought technology could help seniors live independently longer as so many things can be done directly on the phone but I did not know dementia would take that away.

I’ll update if we are able to get the Raz and if it works for my dad.
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Reply to Kmjfree
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How much faxing are your parents really doing? I would strongly suggest that they use a land line with a push button phone so that no matter what, they can answer and make a call. As far as having phone to carry with them when they leave the house or go into the yard, It really depends on what your dads issues are as to whether the jitterbug will help him or not. If he has shaky hands and bad eyesight, the Jitterbug will help because everything is larger. If his cognitive decline is the problem, it won't matter what phone he has, he will struggle.

I bought my mom an old push button phone on ebay to have for her land line in her assisted living apartment, and she could no longer use it. When ringing happened it didn't register to her that the phone needed answered. If you instructed her to pick up the phone, she didn't know which end to put to her ear. It was shocking to me that she had progressed to the point that she couldn't answer a ringing phone, but that was the little bit of hope/denial that I had left I suppose.

I strongly suggest that your folks have a functioning land line in addition to whatever cell you decide on. I have heard good things about RAZ. Good Luck.
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Reply to Jamesj
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Seems your dad will not be able to manage a cell phone. Make sure their landline is dedicated for calls only. Might be able to handle a machine to record calls, in case they don't pick up right away.
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Reply to Taarna
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Hi,
I was experiencing the same issue with my mom. She now lives with us and has, for the past 5 years. Her living alone, declined so much, we felt it was necessary. (Paying multiple months rent in advance, over buying duplicates at the market, because she forgot she already had at home, type stuff)

Her iPhone was too much for her. She would answer and hang up or keep hitting buttons, and activate the FaceTime. She wouldn’t remember how to hang it up either. So, I thought the same thing, try the Jitterbug 3, it’s something new to learn, but may be basic enough with the big icons, also thought, because I work 45 miles away, the alert button on the phone, would be a stress reliever.
I was wrong. She could not manage the new phone at all. She couldn’t hear it for one, because she kept turning the volume down by where the buttons were positioned and how she gripped it. The worst, was she kept calling the alert staff. And because they are nice, she would chat them up.

I finally resorted to buying an Alexa with the big screen and now I can “drop in” at anytime and check in on her. She doesn’t have to answer it.
At first, with written instructions below the device, mom could work it. Now the decline is so bad, she cannot comprehend the instructions to “drop in” on me at work or play her favorite music. So I do that for her from my desk at work. Thank God for technology.

The cell phone just became a burden for her, because she would get frustrated not remembering how to work it and couldn’t comprehend the instructions and always, forgot to charge it.
She has since forgotten that she “wants a cell phone” and she uses mine when she wants to communicate with a friend or another family member.
Good luck with your dad.
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Reply to VPCA721
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I will share what I found with my man .. He has gone from Mild cognitive impairment to Moderate Neurodegenerative disease (multiple types) . He can no longer use the remote for the TV . He lost the ability to use the phone quite a while ago. I purchased the jitter bug and it was even confusing for me . He just could not learn to use it .. The super simple remote sits unused and the computer is long gone , too . I removed the house phone because he could pick up the receiver but not converse and could not remember who called or what the message was . As time has passed, there are evenings I have to remind him where his bedroom is or where the bathroom is. I
keep a very good eye on him . I am here 24/7 with minor exception. When I am out now , I have someone come in to sit with him . With the distance between you and your dad you might consider outside help coming in . If your mom is with your dad she may need help and not know how to find it . If he has not been tested by a neurologist to find out if there are is something going on with his memory , maybe he should be . If there is an “issue “ there will be so very much to learn. It’s a long ugly road for everyone involved. Watching and caring for anyone who dissolves in front of your eyes is heart breaking ..prayer are with you ..
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Kmjfree Sep 27, 2022
yes i have tried very hard to bring in outside help. My mom has some memory loss but not like my dad. She is making the decisions and I do not really have a say. He is still doing okay but I know it will get worse.
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Smartphone or tablet with FaceTime with a familiar picture to open in a single click on the icon is possible. Ask his telephone carrier about this option that best works for your dad's connection. Not sure if question- related, but does your father have a device such as Life Alert with a fall detection to dispatch medical help in an emergency and then contact you for his backup?

I want to address an example about what happened to my late boyfriend of 2020 during the early pandemic that started in March that year. He had only a flip phone from AT&T and refused to obtain internet service because he said internet service was an option. You see, he had an anxiety condition with autism that he refused to change and update his technology. A smartphone or basic tablet such as an iPad could have saved his life. Income taxes were supposed to get filed, but he could not get the forms because all libraries had been closed and forms were only available by Web, requiring him to file an extension into July and beyond. He had suffered a heart condition and could not really contact Kaiser for emergency assistance. Unfortunately, he passed away at age 75 in August 2020 from his health conditions, extreme isolation and stress.
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Reply to Patathome01
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You should ask them if they need to have a fax. Not many people use fax these days. Are they still able to manage their technology to unhook the fax and activate their landline? You may have to help. You should probably try to visit so that you can assess your father's capabilities and see if there are little things that you can help them with, such as activating their landline. Having difficulty doing things that he used to do could be a sign of early dementia. Do they have a plan for a time when they may not be able to care for themselves? Would your mother be capable of caring for him if he does get dementia and for herself, and how about her? Is she OK? Hopefully their paperwork is in order, both of them need to set up powers of attorney for medical and financial matters, living wills and wills, if they have assets. Their POA should also be on file with Medicare and Social Security to be able to speak on their behalf. You can do this with a phone call with you and them on speaker phone. You should have the discussion with them on what their wishes are if they need more care at some point. Their basic choices are in-home caregivers or moving to an assisted living facility. Much will depend on their finances. They (and you) can also connect with a local social worker to discuss their options, if needed. All the best to you and your family.
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Kmjfree Sep 27, 2022
NancyIS that is all really great advice and I have tried to have those discussions over the years. No way they will sign a POA as they believe everyone is after their money. My Dad just came home from rehab for knee replacement and needs physical therapy but adamantly refuses to pay for anything outside of Medicare. We have discussed options and it is always a no. I don’t have a very good relationship with my mom so that complicates things. So I believe we are on the disaster plan. I try to help where I can but it is difficult.
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Kmjfree: There are a number of supposed 'easy to use' cellular phones on television commercials. I say supposed because it may not be easy for the user. For the landline, the facsimile machine should be set to 'telephone' on the machine in order for the individual to receive incoming telephone calls. Otherwise the sender of the call is going to hear the 'fax tone' instead of the telephone call going through. The facsimile machine should also have a handset.
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Kmjfree Sep 27, 2022
Ya I think the fax machine should just be disconnected from the land line. I am working on finding out if they actually fax anyone.
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It is impossible to know for sure. I bought a lively smartphone for my mom. She used it for a short time but complained about how heavy it was. Eventually, she wasn’t able to use it. After that, I bought a lively flip. It is easier but she can’t use that either. It can be set up to answer upon opening so that is much easier and may work for you. My mom however always tried to read the screen and pushed buttons. She still has it but can’t use it. She has a sense of security having it with her as she walks around her AL community. We now have a big button phone with picture calling. Most times she can use that but also forgets how to answer even that. We have an Amazon Echo Dot and Alexa calls for her. We communicate through that when necessary but she gets confused and at times is in another room so it is hard to hear her.

There is no simple solution and lots of $$$ is spent trying to find it.
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Reply to Fitzcisco
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My mom can't really see a phone to dial out. We got her Medical Guardian god forbid she needs us or it's an emergency.
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Reply to CaringDaughter7
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My Mother had a cell phone and used it for many years. It got to the point though, no matter the brand or style, she no longer could manage it. We installed a landline in her assisted living apartment and the problem was solved. When she transitioned into nursing home care, there was a landline in her room. I feel the landline took my Mother back to the days when having a phone wasn't a challenge, which made her and also us very happy.
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Reply to MMarieL
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Great advise but what do you do about the telemarketers? We get at least 4 of those per day and often get scammers as well. These scammers are very slick and professional and can easily fool your loved one if they are not wary. Plus these calls are a real nusance.
We have our phone on the do not call registry, but it doesn't stop them at all.
If you have a suggestion in this regard I'd love it. Thanks
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Reply to lovingw1f3
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ainorlando Sep 25, 2022
The RAZ caregiver portal gives complete control against scammers. Only those on the contact and approved list can call into the phone, period. And only approved outgoing contacts can be called. There is no spam as there is no internet, text or scam call capabilities on the RAZ.
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The phone on the fax machine can be used.
-https://www.faxburner.com/blog/can-fax-machines-make-calls/
-https://itstillworks.com/13640410/how-to-make-a-phone-call-on-a-fax-machine

Cell phones are not for everyone, especially old dinosaurs. Buttons, small print, spam and repetitious messages and touchy touch screens can be maddening.

Better yet, move Dad closer to you and give him the gift of time.
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Kmjfree Sep 27, 2022
That discussion happened about 4 years ago and went nowhere fast. I think he is headed for some sort of senior living but as he and my mom both refuse nothing will happen.
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My mom used the jitterbug flip phone when she behan suffering with MCI. She learned to page through a short list of people to call (mone was top of the list) and would answer as long as the ring was set to a old fashioned bell ringtone. Jitterbug also comrs with a "concierge" coverage where pressing one button puts you in touch with an operator who can then dial anyone in ypur programmed caller list for you. I recommend over the smart phone for anyone experiencing cognitive problems; its more like a cordless phone whick older folks are more accustomed.
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Reply to TNtechie
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Yes. Go ahead and get him a very simple fun very very simple. My Mr. had dementia and he’s slowly lost his ability to do his cell phone too. That was the best solution.

PS however down the road you might have this situation to: eventually we had to take that from him because people would call like magazines and he’d buy everything
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Reply to Lizhappens
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After a half dozen different cell phones including the jitterbug and RAZ mobility, I gave up and purchased an old-fashioned landline. Now, my husband can at least answer the phone when I call. As a side benefit, he feels more empowered instead of being totally incompetent and helpless. The time will come when he will probably no longer be able to answer the landline, but in the meantime, he is feels better about having a little control over his existence. Save your money and go straight to a landline.
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Reply to Lovemydoggies
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My mom must have tried 4-5 cell phones. And the ones touted by AARP are garbage. She NEVER once in 5 years of owning a cell phone was able to make a call on her own. And answering? Forget about that. If you really needed to talk to her you literally had to go to her apartment and find her in person.

She begged YB to please just turn her landline back on. For some reason, he simply would not do it. Well--HE was one of the ones who really suffered b/c every time she had to make any kind of phone call, she had to locate HIM and then get HIM to do it.

I know she missed long chats with friends and some family. But she never conquered the cell phone. Now she's gone and I am having some anger-grief. Angry at YB for being so controlling of her life and sad b/c I couldn't help.
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Reply to Midkid58
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Nope, I’m sorry to say . My mom keeps asking for a cell phone. We’ve gone thru 3. Jitterbug, consumer cellular and I’ve forgotten the other. My mom has “mild?” Dementia and cannot use them, forgets to charge them, etc… went online and bought an old fashioned answering machine. The 2 button kind. Labeled with sticky note what to press. Told her she would never miss a call. Now this works for her receiving messages. So far, she hasn’t asked for anything about outgoing calls.Fingers crossed she doesn’t decide to want the ability for outgoing calls. 😑
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Reply to Joannepr
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There are now landline telephones that have "close captioning" which would be helpful whenever someone calls [like a teen grandchild] who speaks at warp speed.
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GardenArtist Sep 24, 2022
Warp speed - I hadn't thought of that, but that definitely describes someone I know. It's almost as if all the words have to be shuffled out of her mouth as quickly as possible, regardless of whether or not they can be understood.
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My hubby had a nice Android phone, but never could figure out how to swipe the screen to do anything. Couldn't even figure out how to answer a call, see a text. So we got him a flip phone, where all he had to do was open the phone to answer. Still can't do it. We have a home phone, one of the captel phones that show calls on the screen and what they say. Check the settings on the phone, maybe it's set up to be a fax. Contact your phone carrier?
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Reply to bcasteel
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My father had the same issue. He aged out of technology. I vouch an echo and it is voice activated for calls, radio, reminders and even for some of the repetitive questions he asks all the time (e.g. is it hot out?)

He doesn’t go out with anyone he doesn’t know. During Covid he had cancer. I gave him an iPhone when I could accompany him. Told him to give it to someone if he needed me.
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Reply to AliceLS
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I'm another proponent of the RAZ Memory Phone. (Google it for more info.) It's saved our lives. The caregiver has a remote dashboard and sets up the contacts and all your dad has to do is press the circle with their face to call them. The caregiver can also control who is allowed to call your dad, so no worries about spam calls. You can set quiet times for the phone, set ring tones, and more. Best of all, for about $6/month, you can sign up for their emergency service, so if dad presses the 911-Emergency button (required by law to be on a phone), they intercept it and talk to him and contact the caregiver(s) first before dispatching fire/police. This is optional, but my hubby calls 911 thinking they're an answering service, so it's saved us from false alarms and penalties. Without the RAZ phone, my hubby would not have a phone at all, so I'm glad I read about it here on this forum. Good luck.
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GeddyLeeFan Sep 24, 2022
I've used several so-called senior friendly phones and all were too complicated for my mother until I bought RAZ. Seniors that have trouble with technology do not need TEXTS and cameras, etc.
Im all for RAZ.
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My mother had a problem with phone and computer. Both became too complicated for her . She now easily uses something called Grandpad and it has built in help but I can also regulate it for her.
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Does he need a smart phone or would a phone just for calling and texting be enough?
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Kmjfree Sep 27, 2022
I think just calling and texting but I think as his memory gets worse the Raz phone might be best. It’s unclear to me if he reads texts anymore and I don’t think he responds. It’s awful when the brain slows down. My Dad was in programming back in the 70’s and very good with technology. He can still work his phone somewhat but gets mad it everyday and wants to throw it out the window.
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I’m not sure what type of cell phone your Dad is using but I’ve found that the Jitterbug cell phones work well. They offer a few types of phones and use their own cell phone carrier. The buttons are large and it is less complicated to use.
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freqflyer Sep 24, 2022
sunflwrluv, less complicated to use? I have worked on computer software that was less complicated then that brand of cellphone. It doesn't use the KISS theory which many people need.
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Try an old fashion corded phone. My mom is able to use Future Call Big Button Speakerphone Model FC-8814.
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Reply to daughter19
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Same situation with my father. He has never been good with technology. Never did email or text. None of it. He could use his iPhone to make and receive calls, and liked to read the news on it but he would always manage to get it on some setting by mistake that would screw it up. Well along came ALZ and his iPhone was a nightmare. He kept saying his phone was broken and went out and bought a new iPhone. Even worse because it didn’t have a home button so basically it was unusable for him. I bought him the jitterbug 3 smartphone. I had high hopes, but honestly it’s still way too hard for dementia patients to use. They get frustrated and just start pushing buttons and make it unusable. Basically you don’t want a smart phone. You don’t want anything with settings that they can can access by mistake. You don’t want anything that is more than one button to make a call. Get the RAZ phone. It’s a picture of a person and that’s it. They touch the picture and the call is made. No settings, no voicemail, no internet. And the caregiver can control the phone through an on line portal. It’s really the only one that works if you want a cell phone.
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Reply to Caregiverstress
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jbramwell Sep 24, 2022
Bought that for my Mom, had a landline installed. She refuses to use it. Wants her cell phone which she can handle some of the time. Whatever she wants, she gets.
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My mom with mild/moderate dementia has a very hard time with her cell phone now, after using is successfully for many years. I looked at options for something easier but had no confidence that it would actually be easier. I have tried to teach her new things and it is impossible. So, we'll continue limping along with what she's got. We still have a landline and she doesn't do so well with that either. Oh and remotes? Yup, more issues.
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Reply to againx100
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As soon as my mother was diagnosed with progressive dementia, or maybe even before that time, she started having trouble with her telephone. It was a landline. She convinced me it was the phone that was a 'piece of crap' so I bought her a new one, designed to be 'easy for seniors to use'. Well it wasn't, b/c she was having issues with IT too. And those issues just kept getting worse and worse as the days wore on. She started telling me 'the ladies voice is telling me I have to dial a 1 first' or 'the ladies voice is telling me not to dial a 1 first' and on and on, to the point of insanity. Then she started using her phone to turn the tv set on and could not, for the life of her, understand why it wouldn't work.

Then she started turning the volume off of the phone to the point where she couldn't hear me. And all I'd hear was her screaming WHAT??? into the phone over and over and over again. Then she'd push the wrong button on the phone and disconnect the call. And I'd call her back only to hear a busy signal for the next 2 hours.

Or then she'd forget to push the OFF button on the unit and nobody could call her at all; the phone would go directly to voice mail. Which she was unable to access b/c she couldn't remember her passcode which was 0000.

To say the phone turned into a living nightmare is putting it mildly. There were days I wanted to drive down to the ALF and literally tear thing thing out of the wall and smash it to smithereens with a hammer. But I didn't. Because I recognized the phone was her only means of connecting with the outside world on HER terms. But boy howdy, she couldn't get the darn thing to work so that she COULD connect with the outside world! Nobody could get through to her for a variety of reasons, and she couldn't figure out how to listen to her voice messages, which led to the 'nobody ever calls me' tirades, and there you have it.

The Phone Aggravation That Never Ends.

Wishing you the best of luck b/c I have NO ADVICE to give you on this subject. Except you have my condolences and heartfelt wishes for Godspeed on the whole matter.
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Reply to lealonnie1
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JenUA1 Sep 24, 2022
Experiencing similar types of things with my loved one. He calls the police because his phones “aren’t working” and someone has a machine to cut them off. We’ve bought new phones, switched phone services, etc. etc. He also manages to turn the volume down on the phone and we get the same conversation of WHAT? WHAT? I CAN’T HEAR YOU. Sigh…the phones have truly been the biggest nightmare we’ve had in trying to take care of our 89 and 91 year old aunt & uncle. So, I feel you!!!!
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I'm a proponent of the RAZ phone. We originally learned about the phone through an ALZ organization. Without it MIL wouldn't have a phone at all. She is almost completely deaf and can only hear certain rings -- landlines included. The RAZ is so visual and simple that it works. And the caregiver can choose features/control remotely.

www.razmobility.com
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Kmjfree Sep 19, 2022
The Raz looks pretty easy to use. I’ll check it out. I like that it has remote access too. Thanks for the suggestion. I was about to give up on a senior mobile phone.
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