While almost half ofAmericans (48 percent) already have used their cell phones in emergency
situations, millions of U.S. senior citizens — who might benefit the most
from the technology — are not yet taking advantage of the “cell phone
security blanket effect,” due, in part, to a lack of awareness about such
low-cost options as prepaid cell phones.
The Seniors Coalition and Nicholas P. Sullivan today outlined the three
things every senior — or the child of an aging parent who may be reluctant
to use new technology — should know about when it comes to prepaid and
other cell phones. Sullivan is a researcher and the author of a March 2008
study based on more than 110,000 interviews with cell phone users who were
asked about emergency/safety use of wireless phones.
Older Americans are among those least likely to have cell phones.
Research published earlier this year by Sullivan shows that 38 percent of
America’s 45 million poorest households — including millions of seniors —
are now without cell phones. According to the Sullivan report, those who do
not now own a cell phone tend to be older (37 percent are retired) and low
income (38 percent make less than $35,000 a year).
Unlike many seniors, younger Americans are benefiting from the “cell
phone security blanket effect.”
Sullivan’s report shows that about half of Americans (48 percent) have
used their phone to call or text during an emergency situation, and a fifth
(20 percent) have received an emergency call or text on their cell phone.
Nearly three out of five Americans (58 percent) say if they had to choose
only one phone, it would be a cell phone rather than a landline phone. When
asked to choose the most important phone in an emergency situation,
Americans now favor cell phones over landlines by a more than three-to-one
margin. In one encouraging sign for seniors, nearly a third (32 percent)
have bought a cell phone … often an inexpensive prepaid phone … for a
child, parent or other relative to use in emergency situations.
The three points outlined by The Seniors Coalition about older
consumers and how they can make the most of the “cell phone security
blanket effect” are as follows:
1. “Wear” your cell phone whenever it is not being charged. A cell
phone that is stowed away in your car’s glove compartment or always sitting
in a recharging stand by your door isn’t going to do you any good if you
fall down the basement stairs or get mugged in an alley. Get in the habit
of keeping your cell phone on your person all day long — except for when
it is being charged once or twice a week, preferably on a regular schedule.
Remember: The only cell phone that does you any good is the one you can get
to when you need it!
2. Pre-program your cell phone — or your parent’s cell phone — with
key numbers — including home, doctor, pharmacist, and adult child/other
family contact. Make sure that you know how to find these pre-programmed
numbers in your cell phone and then how to place a call using a
pre-programmed number. Add “ICE” (In Case of Emergency) to these saved
numbers that you will want emergency responders, police or others to call
if you — or your older parent — is in trouble, e.g. ICE Doctor; ICE
Pharmacy; and ICE Family Contact.
3. Beat high “contract” cell phone prices with an inexpensive prepaid
phone. Everyone is on a budget these days, but that’s no reason for a
senior — or the adult child of an older parent — to miss out on the “cell
phone security blanket effect.” Many seniors are opting to use low-cost
pre-paid phones that allow them to buy a cell phone for as little as $15
and then use pre-purchased minutes for $20 or less for three months, versus
a wireless contract plan that can cost $30-$40 per month … or even more.
“Grandma” Flora Green, national spokesperson, The Seniors Coalition,
said: “It’s easy for older Americans to put the ‘cell phone security
blanket effect’ to work for them. In some cases, it can literally make a
life-or-death difference in the case of an accident or a case of crime.
Older Americans and their adult children owe it to themselves to get an
inexpensive prepaid or other cell phone and then to use it as a literal
lifeline in emergency situations.”
Nicholas Sullivan said: “The data show that older Americans arguably
are the group that could benefit the most from the ‘cell phone security
blanket effect.’ Seniors are the most prone to suffer dangerous accidents
in the home and are prime targets for certain types of crime. Clearly, the
often high cost of post-paid (also known as contract) cell phones is a
major stumbling block for older Americans and the parents of older
children. That means prepaid cell phones are going to be the most logical
way for millions of older Americans to live safer.”
For more information about the March 26, 2008 Sullivan report on cell
phones and safety/economic issues, go to
http://newmillenniumresearch.org/archive/SullivanReport032608.pdf on the