Staying Connected During COVID-19

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, Lively, 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 – Lively, 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.

Lively, 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.

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6 thoughts on “Staying Connected During COVID-19

  1. September 24, 2020 at 1:02 pm

    […] is more important than ever for older people, Best Buy Health learned in a survey of U.S. adults. Insights from this study have informed the launch of the Lively Flip, which Best Buy Health introduces today. This phone […]

  2. September 24, 2020 at 1:58 pm

    […] is more important than ever for older people, Best Buy Health learned in a survey of U.S. adults. Insights from this study have informed the launch of the Lively Flip, which Best Buy Health introduces today. This phone […]

  3. September 24, 2020 at 3:27 pm

    […] is more important than ever for older people, Best Buy Health learned in a survey of U.S. adults. Insights from this study have informed the launch of the Lively Flip, which Best Buy Health introduces today. This phone […]

  4. October 16, 2020 at 8:54 pm

    […] the new phone includes rapid emergency contact and 24-hour telehealth access. According to a survey that Best Buy Health commissioned in September, those three options represent the top features older adults want in a cell […]

  5. Quester West
    April 4, 2021 at 3:09 am

    My mom has had your product for about 3 months.
    While the instruction booklet seems straightforward, trying to use it reveals it to be colorful but not practical.
    Your instruction book does not provide any guidance on “managing” or “changing” contacts information.

    People change addresses or phone numbers all the time.
    Your instruction booklet DOES NOT address managing or changing contacts however, your television commercials imply that these choices are possible.
    Are we to believe that when Mommy’s brother, friends, MD changes address or area codes that there is not a way for this phone to register/accept those changes? Better question, how can she “easily stay connected with family and friends” if phone number cannot be managed? If so, please demonstrate?

    Also, there appears to be four or five phone contacts that have no phone number attached and when you select the name, the phone defaults to a blank Main Menu screen. Nothing can be added to the Main Menu screen because there are no choices provided (see attachments)

    I spoke to a telephone representative about this matter.
    He said that Mommy’s phone needed to be “updated” and instructed me put it on the charger, wait 1 hour, turn it off then back on to begin making changes.
    He said that while it was charging, the updates would be installed.
    We are still unable to make changes to current contacts. We cannot get past the MAIN MENU to do anything!!!

    Many of the persons in Mommy’s senior community group and church society have complicated, smart phones with tons of “apps” that “grandma” and “grandpa” do not know how to use effectively and cost a small fortune to “look impressive.” These seniors are burdened with trying to “look” modern carrying devices that they can only use to call someone else to tell them how to “find attachments” or “open pictures” or “make the magnifier come on.” Not funny.

    I thought Great Call would be a mobile phone alternative for my senior parent but programming is complicated even for me to help her use it. Your phone representative seemed grateful for my purchase (and his commission). All communications are managed by the Federal Communications Commission. As I am no stranger to government agencies, I would be bound to report any fraudulent activity or product misrepresentation. Mommy (nor any of her senior friends) cannot afford a $26.00 paperweight. We were trying avoid being forced to a “pay phone” during an car trouble or road construction, route changes during a pandemic. HAVE WE MADE A MISTAKE patronizing your company?!?!

    How can we reach someone from your company to guide us /resolve this matter? How do we speak to person about this – until it is concluded? We await your response.

    Quester or daughter

  6. MARSHA POWELL
    May 20, 2021 at 1:09 am

    I need to get the information for me to get a phone like that . I’M ON a fix income and I need the information to try to get the phone for my self.

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