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Mom has enjoyed using her smartphone to keep up with friends and family over the last ten years. She used to be able to email, text and search the web with ease. She is now at a 17 out of 30 on her screening test and she has begun to lose the ability to manage the technical parts of the phone. She isn't ready to give up her phone communication and she isn't yet misusing the privilege so we would like to get her a new senior smartphone that is simpler for her to access but none are easily or readily available through her current service provider. It appears that we would have to buy the senior smartphone and then unlock the chip in order to put the new phone into her current network. This is easy for the younger set to do but not so easily accomplished by those of us in the sandwich generation. Does anyone have any tips, thoughts, suggestions about how to accomplish this goal for mom without ending up in technical hogwash for ourselves?

My Mom had the same problem with her old cell (flip) phone and personal computer. She was never a “techie” but enjoyed her email, Facebook, games online, etc. before she was diagnosed with PD and cognitive decline. Very independent, she wanted to continue but I noticed she struggled with all of it, including her flip phone. Initially, I was able to get her to use Alexa’s Echo several years ago. We did drills on how to call for help if she fell (wouldn’t wear a pendant at the time). Echo probably saved her life when she fell around 4am and could not get to a phone. Mom has rapidly declined since that time (I have been caretaking her) and noticed she could no longer manage any of her former tech-type activities. As she (just) transitioned to AL, I researched and settled on the “GrandPad.” It is amazing. I wanted Mom to hold on to some aspect of her former self as long as she can and this is a good compromise. I am the administrator (is done via an online portal) and once I set it up, Mom has ability to make audio/video calls, email, look at photos, go to her favorite websites (only those I have added via portal), listen to music, and more. It is designed for seniors or those who need a simplified experience in communicating. It won’t be for everyone but we found it works best... for now.
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Reply to leese2020
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Regarding Alexa... if you opt to try that... I did that too. I had to register it to my dad's Amazon account with my dad's smart phone. It didn't work with my own home alexa off my amazon account. And it became confusing when dad would talk to Alexa because both Alexas would attempt to answer. There maybe a solution to this, I don't know though.

I think it's pretty cool but dad would forget how to ask Alexa just like he forgot how to make a video call. He is very comfortable with the old style phone (with a cord) that you put up to your ear. He kept trying to do that with a cell phone because he's hard of hearing but then the speaker would turn off. So if your mom likes to talk on the phone to her ear, but needs the speaker to hear better make sure that the Jitterbug (or whatever) will leave the speaker on if she puts it to her ear.

Anyway, dad only had "moderate" dementia but teaching an old dog new tricks was too hard. Since he didn't need a phone when out and about, he didn't need a mobile and he really gravitated to the good old phone he understood.

Good luck! It's so important for them to be able to reach out and call someone.
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Reply to marydys
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My brother bought my dad an android even though I suggested a Jitterbug, I struggled for months to teach my dad to use it and even hacked the phone to give it a big button feel for it. He just really couldn't use it and kept messing up the "hack" and he kept getting lost in the apps and menus. So I bought him a "big button picture memory phone". Since he never went anywhere to use a phone it worked great. It held 10 pictures and he could easily call all the people he likes to call.

However since we had no land line, I installed an OOMA to plug the big button phone into. It only costs about $5/month

I ALSO got him a device called a Facebook Portal because all of his friends are on his Facebook account. It's sort of like a tablet in that it can do a lot of other things but he really only used it for two things. He LOVES the picture show I put on it. Basically what I did is take all of his pictures and scan them and then LABEL who they are (took some time) and then uploaded them to Facebook. Sometimes he forgets who someone is and the labels help him remember... but now he's got the pictures memorized and he recognizes everyone.

The other thing he does with it is accept video calls. He can't remember how to make a video call, but his friends can call him using their facebook messenger app and they can see each other. It has a FANTASTIC speaker system and he can hear much more clearly than over the phone and he can read lips and expressions. I know there are other video conferencing phones for seniors and I'm sure they all work well. It was just easier to use Facebook as otherwise I would have to coach his elderly friends how to put an app on their phone or computer to call him.

So even though it does lots of other things, the investment of about $150 gave him good quality of life and he's had lots of fun with it.
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Reply to marydys
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I have a 90 year old friend that keeps buying new phones because she couldn't remember how to use her 1st one, that she used for years.

There comes a time when they just can't do it, no matter how simple.

This is the saddest thing I've ever seen, she is throwing good money after bad trying to fix her brain with a new, easier phone.

Your mom may be different but, keep my experience in mind when looking for a fix to loss of executive function skills.
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal
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I am looking into ViewClix. It looks like the simplest way to reach out to your senior without them having to do anything. Uses drop in calls and doesn’t require them to press any button. Can be limited to certain hours only. You get to control who can use it to call in to your senior.
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Reply to HHS4Pat
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My mom had the same issues..I changed out her smart phone for a Jitterbug, which is basically a big button phone, easy to use. She continued to decline and can’t even manage that phone now, less than 1 year in. just pay the bill monthly so she has a phone as she thinks she calls people.
May i suggest you look into an Amazon Alexa show 5 for your Mom? Once you set it up in her house, and link phone numbers for her, all she has to do is tell “Alexa, call Jane Doe”..and then just talk. If I”m not near my smart phone, it rings through Alexa elsewhere in the house. It also plays movies, internet, etc. There is 1 time cost for the unit and you will need wireless internet for it to function properly,. Check it out on Amazon, its really quite simple to use and so useful.
I also tied it to my fire tv stick and use voice command for tv channels, but that is a much different story!
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Reply to ML4444
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citymouse Apr 29, 2021
Alexa is a good option...till they become "time challenged" My mother does not know the time of day, she puts her watch on upside down. She has a big button phone, and still calls me at 4-5 AM. If she had an Alexa, I have this fear she may tell Alexa to call constantly! We have gone thru phones like water...I have complained to all the cell phone companies that they NEED to design a big old fashioned button type phone with the cell phone guts...We will ALL be needing this as we age, no matter how tech savvy we start out as. There is hope, I talked to a tech support person and he said he really understands, he is going thru this with his grandmother. He and his wife are trying to create this exact thing...MAYBE...

I did come up with a good idea for her phone book. I took an empty 4x6 photo album. Used Index cards and my printer and created large number picture phone number directory. One person on each page. She LOVES it and it has actually helped add to her feeling of independence.
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My mother had a flip phone with a keyboard for years that she know how to work. Then it broke. We ended up getting her a phone for her room, it is a wireless home phone base. It runs off of cell service but you connect a "regular" phone to it. So it is a stationary phone not portable. But it did not require any wiring so it worked great for her apartment. We got a phone from Amazon, it is a desk phone but you can put picture of people on the phone and program it to push the picture and it calls that person. It has worked very well. Cost was $50 to buy it and maybe $15/month with AARP membership. Phone was less than $50 and there were all different types. Your mom might want a cell phone and we did not any that would have worked for her; Jitterbug was a little more expensive and this worked great for my mother.
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Reply to dogparkmomma
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Hi,
I guess the question I have is if she is still able to use the 'smart' part of a smartphone?
What about something like a 'Grandpad' instead, if she's still keeping up with emails, surfing the net, etc. You can do calls on those too.
My Mom has had an iPad for years and can still use it to passively do things, but is at the point she can't actively do some things like compose an email or FaceTime. She can pick up incoming phone calls her handset phone, but doesn't dial out.
If your mom isn't using the technology part of a smartphone then maybe switch her over to a landline or handset phone?
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Reply to ElizabethY
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If she can't manage a phone she was already familiar with I'm afraid she may be unable to master anything different no matter how "senior friendly" it is 🤔
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Reply to cwillie
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Can you find an ordinary "dumb" phone that can be activated just by picking up the receiver and dialing?   AT&T used to make a good model CL 2939.   I believe it's still available.    Mom could call just by dialing and wouldn't have to go through the rigamarole of using a smart phone.  The only maintenance is changing the batteries annually or so.   Often used numbers can be programmed, and there's a speaker phone as well as volume adjustment.

I wouldn't recommend AT&T provide the services though; they're outrageously expensive. 

I only paid about $25 for my phone, but that was some years ago.  They're a little bit more pricy now, but not in the stratosphere like some smart phones.

https://att.factoryoutletstore.com/cat/1624-52956/ATT-2-Line-Corded-Phones.html?cid=60297&chid=4272&promo_code=5OFFPROMO&adtype=pla_with_promotion&product_id=60297&ifproduct=product&ifcreative=&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI2qWr5dGV8AIVXD2tBh2KYgHWEAQYBCACEgIra_D_BwE
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