Sense & Sensitivity

Reader Wants to Help Elderly Family Member With Cellphone

DEAR HARRIETTE: My niece bought her grandmother a cellphone thinking it was a great idea. She bought her an iPhone so that she could receive photos from family members who are dispersed all over the country. Everybody thought this was wonderful, including her grandmother -- until she got the phone. This lovely lady is 83 years old, and she has never had a cellphone. She is having the worst time trying to figure out how to use it. It’s just not working. My niece is frustrated because she wants her grandmother to be able to use the phone. What can we do so that Grandma can be connected? -- No Cell Connection, Orlando, Florida

DEAR NO CELL CONNECTION: This happens to older people a lot, as newer cellphones can prove difficult for them to navigate. Some older people have problems simply seeing the screen because the numbers and letters are very small. Others can’t make their fingers work on the small surface. What you may want to do is have your niece return the smartphone and replace it with a simple flip phone that has a keyboard and not much else. Some flip phones have the ability to receive and transmit photos so that function may be available in a simpler phone. What you likely cannot get is the option of FaceTime or a similar service.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

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