Here are some things I learned on my quest to get my mom a new phone for her stay in rehab:
1. There are “pre-paid” phones, but that’s not the same as “pay as you go” phones. Pre-paid includes two different schemes: you pay a flat fee every month, just not with a contract, OR you pay only for what you use (pay as you go.) Then within pay as you go, there are plans in which you pay a high amount, like 25 cents, per minute, and others in which you pay about two dollars for any day you use the phone, no matter how much, and nothing on the days you don’t. And those minutes expire – you can have them longer if you pay more up front, but then you have more to use up.
2. There are fancy-schmancy phones for seniors. You pay much more to have simple operations and some bells and whistles that include medication alarms, a built in 911 that finds you via your cell signal and even, for a fee, access to nurses and doctors. The most popular one is Jitterbug, which costs around $100 for the phone and then has monthly charges on top of that – similar to any other plan until you add the services.
3. Without Jitterbug, it’s easy to find a simple phone. We all like to make fun of our friends with flip-phones (well not all of us, some of us are nicer than others) but the thing about a flip-phone is that you can set it to answer when you open it and hang up when you close it, and that’s an easy thing for someone not used to cell phones. It’s working beautifully for my mom.
4. When you buy a new phone, test it before you leave the store. Dial out from it and dial in to it! The first phone I bought had a defective ringer – it didn’t ring. I spent SO much time reading the manual and searching the web. It became a thing with me – something I would figure out if it killed me. But there was nothing to figure out. It was just broken. I really wish I had figured that out in the store and saved a bunch of trips.
And then I figured out why this was all so important to me. But that’s the next lesson.