When all you need is a phone…

My mom and telephones have not gotten along well for the last several years. The more advanced the phone is, the less she likes it.

When mom moved a few weeks ago to assisted living I asked about phone service. Someone told me that the service in the apartments didn’t work so I got mom a non-contract flip phone from AT&T. Seriously… what was I thinking!!!! After 4 weeks mom told me that she’d rather not have a phone than use the little flip phone.

I asked the folks at Preston Place again about telephone access and was told to call Verizon to activate the phone service in her apartment. OK, I could do that. But when I called Verizon they said ‘no, they don’t do that anymore but Frontier might’. I was about to come unglued (this had been a frustrating day) and the nice man on the phone kept saying, ‘ but wait… we have this cellular thing.’ It only took him a few tries but he finally got me to listen to what he was saying and it’s pretty cool.

Verizon has a small shiny black box with an antenna that plugs into an electrical outlet. It’s called Wireless Home Phone. You can plug a landline phone into the back of it. In fact, you can plug in 2 phones!


This is the Wireless Home Phone unit.

They are having a promotion so the initial $40 fee was waived. I signed a 2 year contract locking in the price at $20 a month for unlimited calling (+fees and taxes). That’s cheaper than the flip-phone contract was going to be.

Mom’s fancier Panasonic cordless phones worked but she didn’t love those phones. They have too many bells and whistles and have been hard for her to use. Mom asked if I could just get her a telephone—and she asked in such a way that I knew I might as well find what she wanted, now, not later. So I Googled retro phones and found all sorts of choices.

Mom is now the proud owner of a beige princess phone. It isn’t smart. It’s just a phone and so far she is very happy. UPDATE: I need to get a better/more expensive princess phone. This one is a little twitchy but her cordless landline phone works very well. She doesn’t like it as much, but she can use it.


It’s loud enough for her to hear, the buttons are big and lit. It’s not as heavy as the original princess phones, but it feels sturdy.


I wish I had known about this years ago. Mom had phone service from Cableone and I know it was more expensive than this service is. And I wish I had thought to get her a retro phone a long time ago too.

I’m sharing this because I know some of you may know people who are having similar phone problems. I hope this helps!

8 thoughts on “When all you need is a phone…

  1. Omgosh!!! My husband forgets how to operate everything depending on the day if it is the phone or the remotes. (Hospice/cancer meds it is not his fault.)

    Thank you thank you so much!


  2. Thank you for this thoughtful and informative post. As a geriatric social work, I know you and your mother are absolutely not alone in this struggle. I’m recording this info for future use with families and will share it with colleagues. Kudos!


  3. AT&T also has that type of service. Don’t know the price difference. The only drawback is if the person ( my husband) has a pacemaker or some other thing that has to be sent over the phone lines, these do not work. Just an FYI. Another learning experience. Thanks Becky. As you said. Sometimes all we want is a ” real” phone. Hello….☎️



  4. I had this a couple of years ago with AT&T and we liked it because you could take the black box wherever you went (like to Florida for the winter or if you were traveling for a weekend or whatever) and plug it in wherever you were and you could get your house landline calls. Can’t remember how much it was but I’m sure it wasn’t too much. Really came in handy.


  5. I ended up getting my mother a large button photo phone. You could insert pictures of people she wanted to call in the number buttons and you would assign a number to each person. You would have to hit “call” button first, which she would never remember. By the way, I’m pretty sure the phones in your photos are not princess phones, but Trimline phones which came later. I know this because I begged my parents for a princess phone in the sixties!


    • You are probably right about the tramline vs princess phone. I probably got the trimline back in the day.

      I looked at the photo phones but so far I think numbers are working for mom. We’ll see how long that lasts :-). Good to know they are there, when needed.



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