By Shalane Farrell, CCA Certified

Imagine in this day and age, with no cell phone! Well, I really can’t because they’ve been around as long as I have. That said, many seniors were already retired when cell phones became “the norm”, didn’t want them, and many still want nothing to do with them.

I became worried every time my grandparents would drive to Arizona to snowbird for the winter because they are “that senior”, and neither had a cell phone. Oh, I worked them over each time, and talked about the “what-if’s” and all the disasters that awaited them in a cell phone-free environment. “You have no way to call or get help!” I’d wail. Of course, they would tell me not to worry, and that they would be fine. They’d remind me how many times they had done the drive and never had any issues.

Throughout the years, my grandparents had been opposed to cell phones saying that “people don’t have conversations anymore” because they are attached to their phones. I actually agree with them, and understand they grew up in a generation where cell phones didn’t exist. I even see my generation losing the ability to communicate properly without a phone in their hand! Whenever I visited them, I made an effort to put my phone away and just enjoy our time together. To this day, I keep my phone pocketed when I visit my Grandma, unless I am sharing pictures.

I knew it would put my mind at ease if I just went ahead and purchased a cell phone for them. I know it sounds a bit selfish to get a cell phone so that I would feel better, but I’m also in a profession where it’s my duty to take care of elders, and I recognize the need for safety when I see it. One day, I simply decided to take control of the situation, instead of always worrying when they went on road trips. I was just going to get them a cell phone! Now, you do have be thoughtful if you’re going to take this tactic, so I thought about the best way to go about this.

Phones are just so “smart” these days! I just wanted a simple cell phone that had large buttons and was easy for them to use. I finally decided to get them the Jitterbug. It was a flip phone with a large screen and buttons, had a long battery life, and an emergency button if needed. I also liked the ability to choose a phone plan that catered to their specific needs. I knew they wouldn’t text, so I just chose the plan that gave them 200 minutes a month. I presented the gift to my grandparents on Christmas, since they made the trip to Arizona immediately following the holiday. Also, how do you refuse a Christmas gift? I remember when my Grandpa opened it and he said “Is this a cell phone?” I laughed and said “yes, it is, and it’s all charged and ready for you to use when you go on your trip!” I told him I had entered all the contacts, and that I had them on speed dial (yes, I explained “speed dial”). My timing couldn’t have been better, as I got a call from my Grandma about four days after they left for Arizona. She said that the cell phone sure had come in handy. Apparently, they had gotten a flat tire around 9:00 p.m. on the freeway, and they immediately pulled over and called Triple AAA. I couldn’t help myself and said “see, if you didn’t have that phone, what would you have done?” She said “I have no idea, but I am so grateful we had it!” Even though they were terribly reluctant to buy a cell phone and didn’t see the point in it, I was able to convince them that it’s a good thing to have.

Sometimes as adult children or grandchildren, we need to take action and do what we think is best for our loved ones. I feel good about my decision. What can you do to help your loved one?