Cell phones play an important role in keeping older adults connected to friends and family. As we’ve uncovered, social isolation and loneliness are top concerns for older adults, and 21% feel lonely every day.
Now, because of COVID-19 and the need for social distancing, helping older adults stay in touch and engaged with family and friends is more important than ever. To examine the importance of technology for older adults during this challenging time, and to learn what cell phone features are most important to them, GreatCall, as part of Best Buy Health, commissioned a survey and found the following:
Staying connected is more important than ever for older adults as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Approximately 60% of older adults said that their cell phone has made them feel more connected to family/friends during the COVID-19 pandemic, with two-thirds stating that they primarily use their cell phone to text or call friends and family
- As a result of the pandemic, 43% of older adults said they use their cell phone more frequently than before COVID-19
- Nearly half (46.1%) said that their cell phone’s capability to keep them connected to friends/family has increased in importance
Health and safety and ease-of-use features and services for cell phones are increasingly top of mind.
- As a result of the pandemic, ease of use and access to health and safety features have increased in importance for older adults
- The top three services older adults want included with their cell phones include family emergency notification, voice assistant/voice typing, and access to telehealth/medication management
- Older adults rely on their cell phones for help in an emergency: 23% claim they’d use voice services to call emergency services, and accessing health and safety services consistently ranked in the top 5 features/services of importance
- The top two concerns about their cell phones? Older adults said they have difficulty navigating and working their phone (20.3%) and trouble writing/sending text messages (25.1%)
What we also uncovered is a disparity between how older adults view voice services/voice activated devices and how they’d use them in practice. For example, almost half of all older adults surveyed (46.7%) stated that their greatest challenge with using voice services/voice activated devices is that they found them unnecessary, confusing or difficult to use, or are generally unfamiliar with them. However, when asked what voice features they’d be most likely to use with their mobile device, older adults responded that they’d use voice to make phone calls in order to stay connected with friends family, as well as dictate text messages and conduct searches.
Similar to what we learned in the Caregiving in the US 2020 survey, there are certain barriers to technology adoption that must be overcome by older adults and caregivers; and while it’s clear voice services are wanted, greater education about this technology is needed to further enhance adoption. By providing the products, tools and services that older adults want and need – such as the recently released Lively Flip – GreatCall, as part of Best Buy Health, is continuing the fight to breaking down these barriers.
During these trying times, it’s important to check in with aging relatives throughout the day and leverage technology to communicate with them, and provide peace of mind and connectivity – even from a distance.
GreatCall, as part of Best Buy Health, commissioned a Google survey of US-based adults aged 65+ from July 27 – July 30, 2020. The study examined cell phone features and services of importance to this demographic. Full results of the survey can be referenced here.