A few weeks ago I shared Mary Ann’s thoughts about the Jitterbug phone. In a nutshell, she loved it and she is still texting away to her daughter in Corpus Christi, Texas. As both Jitterbug trials got underway, I wondered if the Jitterbug phone was versatile enough to meet the needs of every senior. If not, why?
Sharon is 62. She lives in the Chicago suburb of Woodridge, Illinois. She and her husband Bill care for their 3 year-old grandson up to two days per week. They recently welcomed their fourth grandchild. Sharon enjoys 5K walk/runs, volunteers through church at the local food pantry and is in a book club. With the exception of a double hip replacement in November 2008, Sharon’s medical history has been insignificant.
Excited to try the Jitterbug, Sharon had coincidentally begun shopping around for a new cell phone, to replace her current “pay as you go” cell phone. She was also considering switching to a cell phone for full-time use and omitting her land line altogether. She would be a candidate for “those who want to stay in touch” plans that offer more minutes and add-on options. Like Mary Ann, she loved the feel of the phone and the bigger screen for viewing. Even the name ‘Jitterbug’ conjured up memories of the fun dance first popularized in mid-30’s. She was eager to try ALL of the options available. Here are some of her observations:
- Audible and visual alerts for missed calls/texts are good for seniors who are vision or hearing impaired.
- Live Nurse ($4/month, or free if your plan is $29.99/month & up) is a means to speak with a nurse directly; of her two calls Sharon reached a nurse directly once and left a message once.
- You can call your Voicemail ($3/month) from a land line, as well as from your Jitterbug phone.
- Jitterbug MyWorld ($4/month) includes Stocks which Customer Service will customize for you, for free.
- MyCalendar is free and is also customizable by Customer Service for no charge. (I see this as a way I could manage Mom or Dad’s appointments long distance, if necessary.)
- The weekly Wellness Call with Dr. Brian Alman (free if your plan is $29.99 & up) is also nice; Sharon envisioned this as a useful alternative to the internet for basic health information for home bound seniors.
- Your Jitterbug phone will NOT automatically alphabetize your entered contacts. You can alphabetize via your online account (which is included with every phone, but not necessary for basic phone operation) or via Customer Service. (I wonder, is this a convenient way for an adult child to help Mom with her phone, without having to access her actual phone?)
- You are limited to 50 contacts. Each must be entered manually, meaning you cannot opt to save an incoming number and assign a name to it. Customer Service will enter your contacts for you.
- You cannot go to a name by pressing it’s first letter using the corresponding number on your phone. Instead, you must scroll through all contacts until you reach the desired one. (This one was really the bugger for Sharon.)
While the cons are in the smaller details, in sum they made the phone less desirable for Sharon, and they were the reasons she opted to continue her research for a cell phone more tailored to her needs. Was I completely surprised with this outcome? No. After all, it’s apparent that Sharon has different needs than Mary Ann. Sharon shouldn’t compromise what she looks for in a phone for options she doesn’t need right now.
Am I still an advocate for the Jitterbug phone? Absolutely. As an adult child of aging parents, I am always on the lookout for products that will meet my parents’ needs as simply and conveniently as possible. They let me focus on the fun things I like to do with Mom and Dad, and they help me feel like I am doing everything I can to help them.