Mobile devices

Published on January 27th, 2021 | by Sunit Nandi


Jitterbug Phone for Elders

Old age and technology don’t often blend well together. Studies show that while most seniors aged over 65 are eager to learn more about modern gadgets, they have issues adapting. Seniors would complain of a lack of instructions and clarity.

The right approach here is to opt for more straightforward, easy-to-understand gadgets. Modern smartphones by major brands such as Apple and Samsung are already quite user-interface friendly and straightforward. However, some seniors may still have difficulty mastering them.

Facing such difficulty has paved the way to the birth of the Jitterbug. It’s a mobile phone made specifically for older adults. The device has a large screen, big and readable font options, great battery life, and a straightforward software program. Even seniors who have no prior experience with technology should be able to use the Jitterbug daily with ease.

What is the Jitterbug Phone?

The Jitterbug is a handheld device developed by GreatCall. The original flip phone model was introduced in 2006 as a senior-friendly alternative to mobile phones and gadgets that are difficult to use.

It had a large screen, soft keypad, easy interface, readable fonts, and loudspeakers. Simply put, the Jitterbug was born out of the need for simpler mobile phones seniors can use.

Jitterbug is ideal for those who want to provide their aging loved one with a medical alert system that can be used outside of emergencies. It’s a device that connects them with the world. Apart from sending distress signals during emergencies, the Jitterbug also functions as a normal mobile phone—just easier to use.

To date, GreatCall has around one million subscribers. They remain to be the top mobile phone service providers for aging adults.

Jitterbug Flip V.S. Jitterbug Smart 2

GreatCall offers two Jitterbug models: Jitterbug Flip and Jitterbug Smart2. Keep reading for a more in-depth analysis between the two so you can make a grounded, fact-based decision on which would best suit your aging loved one:

Jitterbug Flip

This is the original Jitterbug model that GreatCall introduced back in 2006. It might be an older model, but many seniors still use it for its simplicity. It features a:

Large Screen

Many seniors complained that texts were too hard to read because first-generation flip phones had relatively small screens and generic font options. GreatCall resolved this by equipping the Jitterbug Flip with a much larger, brighter screen. Users also had the option of customizing the text fonts to something they feel is easier to read.

Large screens and readable fonts are a must if you’re looking at mobile device options for your aging loved one. Navigating through a phone is impossible if one can’t even see the screen clearly. Plus, a small screen is very strenuous to the eyes.

Soft, Backlit Keypad

Old flip phones had a touch keypad. You’d have to press down on the keys relatively hard for the text to register.

For teens and young adults, this didn’t seem to be an issue. At most, it was just a minor inconvenience and not something they wouldn’t be able to adapt to. However, for seniors with complications such as carpal tunnel syndrome or rheumatoid arthritis, a tough and hard-to-press keypad could lead to the worsening of their condition.

That’s why GreatCall made the Jitterbug Flip’s pad as soft and easy to use as possible. The goal was to minimize the stress on the wrists. Plus, the keypad had a backlight so seniors with poor eyesight won’t have trouble typing even under dim lighting.

Customized Button Set

The Jitterbug Flip featured a unique, one-of-a-kind keypad with additional buttons on its keypad for user convenience. The extra buttons included were the:

  • Yes/No Button: Users can easily make simple text decisions using the customized yes/no buttons on the keypad.
  • On/Off Button: There’s no need for your aging loved one to consult with you every time something mysteriously turns on or off on their phone. At the press of a button, they can reset the phone to the preferred settings.
  • 5Star Service Button: This is perhaps the most useful keypad function on the Jitterbug Flip. It’s a customized button that directly connects the user to a GreatCall operator tasked to assist with emergency situations. They can help dispatch firefighters and paramedics, among others.

Jitterbug Smart2

GreatCall introduced the Jitterbug Smart2 as the senior-friendly alternative to modern smartphone devices such as Android and Apple. This handheld device functions exactly like any smartphone. It features a:

Large Screen With Backlight

The Jitterbug Smart2 has a wide, backlit screen with multiple customizable font options. This is ideal for users with sensitive eyes as they can easily adjust the screen brightness and the font style and size to suit their specific needs.

Voice Command Function

The voice command function on the Jitterbug Smart2 is very responsive and can be used to launch certain applications, make Google search queries, or even send text messages. That way, users with dexterity issues won’t have to type as much anymore.

Video Chat Function

Jitterbug Smart2 allows users to video call their friends, families, and various loved ones any time they want. These types of video chat applications are very beneficial especially for seniors with mobility issues who can no longer go out and visit their relatives as easily as they used to.

Internet Access

The Jitterbug Smart2 has a senior-friendly interface that allows even first-time users to explore the internet. It’s not as confusing as other smartphones and only offers basic services.

Social Media Access

Initially, the Jitterbug Smart2 didn’t offer social media access. The device allowed users to surf the internet, but the software cannot accommodate social media applications. This was done to make the interface as easy to use as possible.

However, GreatCall had to upgrade the system as the demand for social media access via their Jitterbug devices increased. More and more seniors are signing up for social media platforms. In fact, reports say that the number of users aged 65 to 74 on social media has nearly tripled in the past five years alone!

Benefits of Using the Jitterbug

1. Senior-Friendly Features

What sets the Jitterbug apart from any other smartphone on the market is its unique, senior-friendly design customized to suit the needs of the elderly. Some of its key features include:

  • Large Screen: Those with poor eyesight won’t have to worry because the Jitterbug comes with a large screen and big, readable font options. You can further customize these in the settings.
  • Simple Interface: The Jitterbug has a much simpler interface as compared to other smartphone options. It’s effortless to understand.
  • Loud Ringtone: No need to worry about missed messages or calls because Jitterbug phones have a loud set of speakers.
  • Long Battery Life: Seniors can’t be bothered to charge their phones while they’re out of the house, so they need a handheld device efficient enough to last the whole day.

2. Long-Distance Communication

Many adults fail to consider how lonely things are for seniors who live alone. This especially applies to widows and widowers with no one to talk to and are left with their solitary thoughts. The idle mind leaves one vulnerable to negative thoughts.

Of course, you don’t necessarily have to live with your parents again. At least make an effort, however, to alleviate some of the day-to-day loneliness they feel, and you can do so by giving them a Jitterbug.

Basic Jitterbug models are capable of standard call and text services. More modern variants, on the other hand, feature internet-based services such as GPS, e-mail, and video call applications.

Giving your aging loved ones the ability to connect with friends and relatives is a very wonderful gift. Sometimes, all they really need is someone to talk to and share stories with.

3. Medication Reminders and Assistance

It’s no secret that one’s memory dulls as he/she ages. That’s why many seniors often forget to buy or take their medicine, especially if they live alone and no one’s there to help remind them.

Luckily, the Jitterbug can easily resolve this. The device comes with a specialized medication management application that reminds users when it’s time to take their medicine or if they have to purchase a new batch already. Users can also consult with their doctor through the Jitterbug.

4. Medical Alert System Features

More and more seniors are now choosing to live alone. It’s more cost-efficient and liberating as compared to staying at a senior care facility. The biggest trade-off, however, is that aging in place increases the risk of serious injuries and death during medical emergencies.

Unlike with a senior care facility, there’s no 24-hour care team to monitor your aging loved one. This means that if a problem occurs, it’s up to them to request the necessary help and assistance—which, trust us, is a very big challenge for elderly individuals having a medical emergency.

To ensure the safety of your aging loved ones, we encourage getting them a Jitterbug. This device allows them to send a distress signal and request an ambulance no matter where they are or what time it is. Remember: urgent assistance can spell the difference between life and death during emergencies.

5. Daily Fitness Tracking

Jitterbug smartphones are equipped with fitness tracking applications elders can use to record daily physical activities. The most basic feature is the pedometer. It allows one to count the number of steps he/she takes, measure distance traveled, and estimate the number of calories burned during specific activities.

If you want a more in-depth analysis, look for more modern options. Ideally, one that can sync with a fitness watch and track your sleeping pattern, calorie intake, blood pressure, and heart rate.

These are very good features for those prescribed to follow a specific fitness regimen. Remember: keeping track of daily progress is a solid, efficient way to stay committed to one’s exercise routine and diet plan.

Additional Resources

Getting started using a Jitterbug

This comprehensive, unbiased guide by Senior Strong is perfect for readers who may still be on the fence on whether they or their aging loved ones would benefit from a Jitterbug. It goes in-depth as to what the available plans are.

Smartphones and senior lifestyle

The compact body and user-friendly interface of most modern smartphones—including the Jitterbug—makes them a great gateway to technology. Seniors prefer smartphones as compared to desktops and laptops.

Which Jitterbug phone model do you think would suit your aging loved one the best? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!

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About the Author

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I'm the leader of Techno FAQ. Also an engineering college student with immense interest in science and technology. Other interests include literature, coin collecting, gardening and photography. Always wish to live life like there's no tomorrow.

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