The need to keep in contact with your social circle, friends and family does not diminish with old age. The ability to use most modern devices does, though; enhanced by factors such as diminishing eyesight, hearing impairment, loss of mobility and other impairments. This does not mean that they have to be left behind and stay alone. Landline telephones are a great way for senior citizens to keep in contact with friends and keep up with what’s happening around them without having to struggle with using confusing and tiresome gadgets. Many companies offer free landline services for senior citizens to help them improve their quality of life.
A landline is a phone that uses a metal wire or optical fiber telephone line for transmission and can either be hard-wired or cordless and are typically used in fixed locations such as homes. Landlines have major differences when compared to cell phones. For one, landlines use metal wires or optical fiber wires for transmission while cell phones use radio waves. Landlines derive their electric power from utility mains electricity while cell phones are powered by a battery that needs to be charged continually.
The function is another key difference where a landline will only perform the most basic function of making and receiving calls while cell phones (smartphones in particular) combine so many functions in a single device such as calling, texting, emailing, use of the internet and use of numerous other applications stored in the device. Free cell phones for seniors offer all these great features. Even as the use of landlines is on the decline, this important device has not seen the last of its days yet. Senior citizens who earn low income do not need to worry about being able to afford phones and phone services. The Federal government’s program Lifeline offers free cell phone service for life unlimited everything for qualifying citizens.
How to choose the best landline phone services for seniors
According to ACA International, only 41% of American homes are operating solely on wireless services. Although holding on to a landline service may seem like an outdated option, many benefits come with landline phones including:
In cases of emergency, a cell phone can only detect the general vicinity of the user and not the exact location. When you make a call to emergency services using a landline, the operator can see your exact address, floor and even apartment number. Your data is also secure since it can’t be intercepted unlike smartphones which use radio waves that are easily intercepted, compromising your privacy and security.
ii) Clear connection
Landlines rely on a network and not cell towers hence they have crystal-clear strong connections. If you are tired of having a lot of dropped calls and poor connections, landlines are the best bet. They are known for having consistent and high-quality transmissions, Additionally, a landline will also work during a power outage as long as it is connected to a corded base.
iii) Low maintenance
Landlines are generally easy to maintain and they can be used for very long periods without significant wear. They are also significantly easier to use for senior citizens than modern smartphones.
iv) Extended talk time
Landlines generally have a longer talk time compared to smartphones due to their limited features.
With all these great benefits, how do you choose the best landline phone and services for senior citizens? Here is a comprehensive list of the features to look out for.
i) Call quality
This is important when choosing a landline phone. Make sure you choose one that promises no call interference and zero interference. Distorted calls can be a great source of frustration for a senior citizen so make sure that the clarity of voice is excellent on both ends.
ii) Caller ID and call blocker
The caller ID will make sure you know who is calling you at all times as it displays the name, number and date of incoming calls. The call blocking feature is also great assistance in blocking spam calls to make sure you have peace at home with no random disturbances.
iii) Disability considerations
Cell phone companies are continually manufacturing cell phones that can be used by people with different disabilities such as cell phones for visually impaired seniors, hearing disabilities and more. Choose a landline with easily dialable buttons and a backlit keyboard for ease of use by visually impaired citizens and also consider the ringer volume for seniors with hearing aids.
iv) Backup power on the base unit
Make sure the base unit has a backup power source such as batteries or it will not transmit calls during a blackout.
Other factors that need to be considered when choosing a landline for a senior is whether they have an alarm system and answering machines for recording messages when they are not there. But choosing the landline is only half the job.
Make sure you choose a landline service provider with a trusted record for clear calls at all times and a great coverage area. Make sure to also consider the bundled services offered by the service providers and whether they offer value for money.
How to get lifeline for seniors
The lifeline assistance program was launched by the Reagan administration to provide free landline service to low-income households. Today, this program offers qualifying customers monthly discounts of $9.25. Here is a complete guide on how seniors can get lifeline assistance for their landline service.
Step 1: Eligibility
Although Lifeline is sponsored by the Federal government, it is regulated by the state governments. The eligibility requirements may, therefore, have slight variations from state to state. Generally, there are two ways in which you can qualify for lifeline assistance
i) Income-based eligibility
You qualify for Lifeline if your total household income is at or below the 135% mark of the federal poverty guidelines. To prove this, you need to present any of the following items:
- The previous year’s federal, state or tribal tax return
- Child support award or divorce decree
- Paycheck stub or recent revenue statement from an employer
- Worker’s unemployment’s compensation statement of benefits
- Any other official document that contains income details
ii) Participation in Federal Assistance Programs
You also qualify for Lifeline Assistance if you participate in any of these Federal assistance programs including but not limited to;
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Federal Public Housing Assistance
- Food stamps or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- National School Lunch Program (NSL)
- Temporary Assistance for needy families (TANF)
You will need letters of participation from the program you are participating in to prove eligibility.
Step 2: Choose a lifeline provider
Find out which companies offer lifeline services in your state. Each Lifeline provider is required by the Federal government to provide a minimum amount of services. Look at the services offered and choose the package that suits you.
Coverage is also important. Find out if the company you are considering offers good coverage at your specific location Once you settle on a company, it is now time to make the application.
Step 3: Make the application
After picking a carrier and informing them that you qualify for Lifeline, they will begin the application process for you. An application form will be mailed to you within a week with a PIN in a pink envelope. Fill in the form honestly, sign it and send it to the Lifeline administrator in your state together with all required documents.
Step 4: Wait for notice on the state of your application
If your application is not accepted, you will receive a notice via email or mail followed by a letter. If, however, your application is successful, you will receive your discounted service within 7 to 10 days on your registered landline.
Step 5: Renew your Lifeline application
Applying once for Lifeline is not enough. You will need to renew your application yearly. A renewal form with a PIN will be mailed to you 105 days before your registration anniversary. To renew your discounts, fill in the form, sign it and send it to the California lifeline administrator before the due date. Failure to renew your application will see you discontinued from receiving more discounts.
Although Lifeline services being limited to one phone per household, seniors living in nursing homes and homeless shelters may also receive Lifeline discounts despite these areas being considered as multiple households.
The 5 Best Free Landline Phone Service for Seniors
AT&T is one of the largest telecommunications service providers with a 140-year history. It has great nationwide coverage and has a high probability of having coverage in your area. Today it offers home phone, cellular, internet and television services.
You can get great discounts by bundling these services together. AT&T also participates in the Federal government’s lifeline program and you can receive up to $9.25 in discounts per month and a free phone.
AT&T offers the following calling features on their landline phones: all call forwarding, busy call forwarding, exclusive call forwarding, no answer call forwarding, safe call forwarding, call blocking, anonymous call blocking, call screening, call screening, do not disturb, caller ID, caller ID blocking, call waiting, call trace, directory assurance blocking, international call blocking, locate me, three-way calling, cancel call waiting for all calls, single call, and mid-call.
AT&T offers more features than most competitors and if you have any queries, you can contact a customer care representative on their toll-free line.
2) Set up landline with Google voice
Google voice has home phone services with call forwarding, call blocking voice calls and text messages for free. Google voice connects your phone number to your recipient’s number for free. Here’s how you sign up for google voice services.
First you need to get an adapter box from Obi. An Obi box taps into Google’s free voice calling service and makes it work through a landline. Secondly, you need a google voice phone number. If you don’t have one you can set it up at the Google Voice website. Lastly, you just need to plug everything in and follow the instructions on the Obi box and use your phone.
Ooma is a phone system that offers unlimited calling to US and Canada and unlimited users with private voicemail. Though originally designed for office use, it offers great services for senior citizens. The initial investment in an Ooma router may be a bit high (around $200), you will face almost zero costs thereafter.
You will be responsible for the payment of around 3.47 dollars per month. Another great thing with Ooma is that it supports Local Number Portability (LNP).
This means that you don’t have to get a new phone number as you can transfer your old one. If you buy the router at the company, your account will be set up for you so all you have to do is plug it in and use it.
4) Magic Jack
Magic jack is a landline service that allows you to attach their VoIP adapter directly to the computer. This adapter supports the connection of your phone cord into your computer, using your computer in place of the VoIP adapter. Your computer will need to be kept in operation always for you to be able to use your phone.
The adapter is worth $20 with annual fees of around $20 and no other hidden fees, which is way affordable for senior citizens. You get free calls to the US and Canada. The biggest disadvantage is that you can’t port your existing number.
Skype is well known as a computer to computer calling service, but that isn’t the only service it offers. It provides a good number of solutions that allow you to link your home phone with Skype to talk with your contacts on their landlines or computers.
You will need a Skype account before you use it on your home phone. Just buy a Skype adapter that will transform your home phone to a Skype phone and with Skype premium you get free United States and international calls.
Studies have shown that seniors who stay socially active and engaged experience many benefits including; better cognitive function, great emotional health, boosted immune system and they enjoy a more restful sleep. What better way for them to keep in touch and plan their calendar with friends than to use their landline phones.