Smartphone Plans For Seniors, Cell phones without annual plans offer limited help to homeless people

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Smartphone Plans For Seniors – Most older homeless adults have access to cell phones, but they are usually basic telephones, without annual contracts that allow them to keep a stable amount, and are therefore only practical for one-way communication, according to the UC San Francisco study on how homeless use technology cellular and internet.

Without an annual telephone contract, the owner loses their number every time they get a new telephone. The researchers say this constant churn increases stress and social isolation from groups that are already very vulnerable, making it difficult for older adults, many of whom have chronic health conditions, to stay in touch with family and friends, or to access care medical needs. services.

Smartphone Plans For Seniors

“It only makes life very difficult, which is much more difficult,” said Margot Kushel, MD, professor of medicine at UCSF and senior author of the study published Wednesday, December 5, at the JMIR (Journal of Medical Information Research) mHealth and uHealth. “Moving with family is one of the most common ways out of homelessness, so the inability to stay in touch with family members is a big problem.”

This result comes from an ongoing Kushel-funded study, called HOPE HOME, which maps the lives of 350 homeless people – mostly single black men – aged 50 and older in Oakland, California. Kushel, director of the Center for Vulnerable Populations at the San Francisco Zuckerberg General Hospital and Trauma Center, has shown that homeless people experience poor health problems and health problems related to ages 20 to 30 years earlier than the poorest members of the general population who have housing. The average age of HOPE HOME participants is only 58 years old, but many have experienced health problems related to geriatric patients.

Most of those in the study only had access to the most basic technology, and they used smartphone and internet technology even less than elderly adults in the general population – those aged 65 years or older – or those with very low incomes.

“This is a group at the bottom of the digital divide: older, minority and poor,” Kushel said.

Although three quarters are owned or have access to cell phones, two-thirds have what is called a feature cell phone, not a smartphone, which cannot access the internet. Only about six percent have annual cellular service contracts.

More than half of those surveyed – 55 percent – said they had used the internet at some point. Nearly 40 percent have been online the previous month, gaining internet access in various public locations, such as libraries. About a third say they have an email account at this time.

More than 80 percent use their cellphones and / or internet to contact their families, and almost two-thirds use this method to communicate with medical providers. About a third use them to find housing and jobs.

The authors say the lack of two-way communication exacerbates the use of unnecessary emergency services by homeless patients, because it is very difficult for them to make and keep medical appointments.

“We found that 72 percent of our study participants had clinics and more than 50 percent had primary care providers, but people still use the Emergency Department very much, and partly because of the lack of two-way communication,” said Maria Raven, MD, MPH, professor of emergency medicine at UCSF and the first author of the study. “This system is regulated so patients cannot get health care without admission, unless they have a telephone where providers can reach them.”

The authors say some providers try to make up for the lack of communication by scheduling their homeless patients to come back often for problems that can be managed by telephone, even though travel is a problem for these patients. Providers also sometimes detain homeless patients in the Emergency Department to wait for test results.

“The call is not the solution to the homeless crisis,” Kushel said. “But we must do everything possible to make the lives of these people easier and alleviate the unnecessary challenges they face.”

Authors: Maria Raven, MD, MPH, Lauren Kaplan, PhD, Lina Tieu, MPH, David Guzman, MSPH, and Margot Kushel, MD, from UCSF; and Marina Rosenberg, from the UC Berkeley School of Public Health.

Funding: This study was funded by grants from the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health [K24AG046372, R01AG041860, and P30AG044281] and by the National Institute on Minority Health and Disparities Health [R25MD006832].

Disclosure: None.

About UCSF: UC San Francisco (UCSF) is a leading university dedicated to promoting health throughout the world through advanced biomedical research, postgraduate education in life sciences and the health profession, and excellence in patient care. These include graduates of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy schools; a postgraduate division with nationally renowned programs in the fields of basic science, biomedicine, translation and population; and a superior biomedical research company. This also includes UCSF Health, which consists of three top-ranked hospitals – UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in San Francisco and Oakland – as well as the Langley Porter Psychiatric Hospital and Clinic, UCSF Benioff Children’s Physicians and Faculty Practice UCSF . UCSF Health has affiliations with hospitals and health organizations throughout the Bay Area. The UCSF Faculty also provides all medical care at the Zuckerberg San Francisco public hospital and the Trauma Center, and the SF VA Medical Center. The UCSF Fresno Medical Education Program is the main branch of the University of California, San Francisco Medical School. Please visit


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