A study by the Pew Research Center finds 78% of people over the age of 65 have a cell phone. Just 30% of seniors have smartphones; after all, they are not busy swiping left or right on Tinder or sending messages on Snapchat. So that means seniors have different needs when it comes to a cell phone plan.
Many carriers used to have so-called “senior plans.” Sadly, those are mostly gone. But that does not mean you have to pay the average monthly U.S. cell phone bill of $70 (almost half of people say they pay more than $100 and around 15% say their bill tops $200).
The folks over at Nerd Wallet recently looked at plans that might suit the needs of older people. If you want to have a cell phone for emergencies but really do not want use it, then T-Mobile’s $3 dollar per month plan might be for you. For that paltry sum, you get a combination of 30 minutes and 30 texts. This is perfect if you have a traditional landline and do not leave the house very often.
AT&T has an interesting plan, It costs $2 per day for every day you use your phone. If you do not use it on a particular day, you do not pay. Talk and text is unlimited.
If you do want a smartphone but do not plan to use that much data, Republic Wireless has a plan for $25 a month that includes 1GB of data per month and unlimited talk and text. T-Mobile has a $30 plan, but it only includes 100 minutes of talk time.
If you just want a phone for emergencies, GreatCall’s Jitterbug phone might be an option. It has 200 minutes of talk, but no text and data. It also has a button to call 911 and you can set up daily or weekly wellness calls, to make sure you are all right. This costs $14.99 per month.
Now, you might be tempted to think these plans, especially the one from GreatCall, are alternatives to a medical alert device. While they are all fine plans, they are no substitute for the security of an alert system. While the Jitterbug can call the overwhelmed 911 system with the press of a button, your medical alert pendant will call a monitors who are just waiting for your call, who know who you are and everything about your medical background. They can call your children or a neighbor to come and help you because they already have that information. And of course, they can dispatch an ambulance directly to your home because they know where you live.
Cell phones are great; they are revolutionizing our world. But they cannot do everything that a medical alert system can.