We are trying to work out a way for my mother in law to visit her son in FL while we go away this winter for a couple weeks.

She has a Lifeline help necklace and a land line phone in her apt. now. My brother in law (her son) has no land-line - and you need a land-line in order to use the Lifeline necklace.

My question: Would a Jitterbug cell phone be a reasonable alternative? She is NOT very tech savvy and even has trouble with her TV remote at least once a week. Are they difficult to use? She is 88.

I see on Amazon that they sell them for $69 and sell a lanyard (so you can wear it around your neck) for another $5. But the Amazon site does not mention how to activate it.

I checked the Greatcall site and am wondering if this would be better. Cost a bit more. Must you sign a contract for 2 years? Can we purchase a ONE MONTH plan? I doubt she will use the phone except while she is in FL.

I see on the site that some use it instead of Lifeline - but I am afraid she would not want to have a 4 oz. phone hanging around her neck all the time or while she in in bed and especially while showering - so we feel the Lifeline is still the way to go here at home.

We just want her to be able to call her son or 911 if necessary while she is in Florida. He (and his daughter who is in college) will check on her during the day and be with her evenings and weekends.

If anyone has any suggestions for this - do reply. This trip could - and probably will - fall through - but I would like to check this out 'just in case' he comes through for us.

thanks all.............

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No, I called Lifeline when she went to visit FL 3 years ago - already know it does not work there unless he has a landline and we switch numbers - so Lifeline is out for sure. Emailed Jitterbug and received response stating: "Thank you for contacting GreatCall, creator of the Jitterbug and 5Star Urgent Response Service. Unfortunately GreatCall does not provide month to month service." We would only want something for short term use - no contracts. I will check out 'MobileHelp' and see how that works. Thanks all. Sadly, AGAIN, we have had NO response to our email or text message regarding a visit - so we know that the answer is NO.

So, we will just have to work out another complicated visit/call list with our friends and children looking in on her, visiting her, sharing meals with her and calling her while we are gone. We did this once before. It requires a LOT of coordination and cooperation - but at least we can COUNT ON them to come through for us.

We just thought that since it has been 3 years since she saw her son that he might be willing to have her come for extended visit - guess we were wrong. Kinda sad to think of it that way. But, that's the way it is and it is that way for many, many on this forum.

All for now :)
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IF she pushes the button in florida, the Lifeline people will dispatch to the wrong address! They have your address on record, not his. Forget Jitterbug, they drop calls. If your mother is not used to a cell phone now, she won't be able to do it in a panic. Your brother in law has a cell phone and he can call 911 if they are needed.
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Looking at a recent AARP newsletter, there is an ad for something called MobileHelp . Ad claims it can go anywhere-available nationwide-doesn't require a landline. Pciture shows that a necklace type device is available-also a watch type device. You might want to investigate this as a possibility. The ad doesn't show costs or any contract requirements so it might be pricey. Good luck.
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As a side note - care giving was much more difficult during her 3 surgers that spanned about 3 1/2 years. Those were the really hard years. Those were the years that took their toll. The last couple of years have not been as bad - she does pretty well in between her 'mini crisis' - which she has 2-4 times a year.

She deals with chronic dehydration - due to not wanting to drink too much because of her incontinence. This is an ongoing problem and results in several bladder infections a year (sometimes resulting in ER visits). She also has facial neuralgia that is getting worse and that results in a couple of ER visits a year - sometimes more. She just got over cellulitis - and spent 2 weeks in hospital and now she is receiving PT twice a week and seems stronger.

She can now care for her personal needs and I do the cooking, cleaning, meds, shopping, bills, etc.

thanks everyone.
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She spent a week with them about 3 years ago. Right now, she is doing pretty well and is getting Physical Therapy after her last hospitalization. So, barring another mini crisis - she would probably be ok there. Don't think she has dementia. Think it is probably more of a personality disorder :0( One of the Jitterbugs looks like it only has 3 buttons and the operator will dial it for you. That looks simple enough.

My brother in law does not have a land line - so she cannot take her Lifeline console with her - it would not work. I already called them about that when she went 3 years ago. Basically, my brother in law and his daughters just checked on her 2-3 times a day and she did ok. Their home is all on one floor - no steps and we sent down all her assistive devices.

She can stay alone for a time right now - but we feel she would benefit from a nice visit with her son :0) There were times when she could not be left at all - those were the rough years.

Do we SERIOUSLY believe he will come through and take his mom? No. But, we keep asking. I don't know why. We asked the other two sibs to contribute equally with us for a new TV for their mom. It took months for them to come through with $150. I think everyone can get the picture. There is no way in the world that either of them would fork over enough to cover paid help for their mother. No way. We have mom and they don't and they are just fine with that. :0(

Thanks everyone.
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We had both a lifeline for at-home use and a Jitterbug for when my husband was out of the house. We used the Jitterbug for about 9 years, so obviously I thought it was worthwhile. BUT ... I am not sure he could have managed the technology in a true emergency. He was a mechanical engineer and gadgets were no problems for him ... until he got dementia. He hadn't used a cell phone before that and it was a little daunting for him. Each time he went off on his mobility scooter I made sure the phone was on and in his pocket. I reviewed with him how to call home, and he practiced it each time. I reminded him how to answer it if it rang. We went through this routine EACH time he went out with it. He was able to call me once when his scooter didn't have a charge. He answered my calls several times, but I'd have to call multiple times so he could get it out of his pocket. ("Is everything OK Hon? You are taking longer than I expected." "Oh yes. I got my haircut OK. I decided to stop for an ice cream cone." "OK")

I have a friend who had a responsible office position before she retired and had used a cell phone. She now has dementia related to her MS and she cannot figure out how to talk on a cell phone even with someone else placing the call and holding it for her. She does fine on a land line.

Oldcodger, you know your MIL. You'll have to judge whether she would be able to use a cell phone on her own. You will also have to judge whether it would be safe for her to remain on her own in unfamiliar surroundings. Her son hasn't been with her in her present state and he cannot be expected to make appropriate plans on his own.

I really, really hope that she can spend some time with her son.
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Dear Oldcodger, I believe the Lifeline is tied to her home phone # so not sure it would work in Fl. Why don't you call them and ask if she could bring the table-top box to FL and set it up tied to your Bro's phone line there? Worth a try. Only other comment is regarding the fact that you have been providing 24/7 care since 2005, and you Bro will be working for the 2 weeks you are on vacation. If he must work, then it would seem reasonable for HIM to hire a companion/caregiver for 8-10 hours per day to cover her well-being. She obviously cannot be left alone. Not knowing the background of your Bro's involvement, it would seem that is the least he could do for you.
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