Some seniors prefer to experience life without a cell phone

My husband and I do not own smart phones. Yes, you read that correctly. We do not own them and we do not miss them. Our two sons believe this makes us totally old school and opposed to learning new things, our grandchildren cannot understand how we can even function in life without them, and friends keep cautioning us that it is unsafe to not have them. A choice to postpone a purchase has turned into a belief that not only can we save money by not buying them, we can actually get more out of life without them. So …. we have dug in our heels a little on the subject, and I thought I would share what we have learned or observed as a result of this decision.

First is the issue of safety. I would argue that the lack of a cell phone actually keeps us safer. We pay attention to the road and our surroundings when we drive and are not distracted by technology. Given our age and less than perfect eyesight at night, we no longer drive after the sun goes down unless it is no great distance away from our front door. We also keep our cars filled with gas and well maintained. Consequently, the likelihood of unexpected road emergencies is pretty slim, and the safety issue becomes a moot point.

Second, I would argue that navigation skills become quite sharp without the aid of the GPS provided by a cell phone. Paper maps not only show me multiple routes from which to choose, but I get a very real sense of what else is around me en route to my destination. I learn the other towns in the region and what county trunks intersect with the state highway upon which I happen to be travelling. And I am much more likely to notice my surroundings so I do not get lost in the first place. I remember environmental details, and I read and remember road signs. I am, in short, tuned into my world as I am driving through it. Eventually, I know the route and no longer even need a map; I can simply enjoy the journey.

How often does a person follow the direction on their cell phone’s navigation and end up in a parking lot instead of the movie theater, or a dead-end street instead of the restaurant they were hoping to find? I am also amazed at the routes Google has given our relatives when they travel up north to visit. In such situations, cell phone users have paid such close attention to the directions in the palms of their hands that no knowledge of their actual surroundings has been acquired on their journey. Consequently, it is quite difficult to backtrack, as points of interest that could have been used as guides have not been noticed.

It is certainly possible to get lost using a paper map. But I would argue that, by in large, the map user is also better able to appreciate a wrong turn by actually noticing a physical environment he was not expecting. I remember when I first started to explore the back roads between Niagara and Florence in Wisconsin and beyond. Travelling west on County N, I initially missed the right turn that would take me into Florence and continued straight — also missing the road sign that told me I was no longer on County N but was now on County C. Before I knew it, there was a buffalo ranch on my left and Highway 101 on my right. I remember once passing 101 on my way to Eagle River on Highway 70, so I took it appreciating the new scenery along the way. I discovered rivers on my detour that had only been names to me in the past. It turned out to be a fun and unexpected adventure!

When travelling to new places, cell phone users appreciate that they can check out restaurant reviews before making a “wrong choice.” My husband and I prefer to do our own exploring of whatever town we are in and to make up our own minds by checking out the place ourselves. After all, our tastes may be very different from the preferences of the reviewer. Or the reviewer may have simply hit a bad day or a server having an off shift. And, after all, most of the fun of travelling is to discover new places and to have new experiences.

Without all of the advice found on cell phones, what other options does the traveler have? Try asking a local! Engage and communicate with the folks who live in the area. They will be happy to share their thoughts with you, and you will not only learn about their home town, but will get to know them as well. It is all about having the fullest experience possible so you can really learn something new.

Finally, travelling without a cell phone as your guide allows you to be fully immersed in the experience and to appreciate each moment of your trip. My husband and I have noticed so many instances of this. We notice that people soon become so attached to their phones that they are missing out on the very reasons they have taken the trip in the first place. I hesitate to use the word “addiction” because it is such a strong term, but I really sometimes wonder if it does border on that.

A couple of years ago, we were up in Marquette on a beautiful summer day. The Zepher wine bar had just opened, so we decided to check it out. While sitting at an outdoor table near a walkway that was completely strung with colorful umbrellas overhead, we could not help but notice how many young people were oblivious to that very unique and artistic display. They were either actively using their cell phones or walking with elbows bent at their waists and palms extended holding their cell phones in case they rang!

On another occasion, we had decided to spend the day on the Stonington Peninsula in hopes of witnessing the butterfly migration while we had a picnic. We braved the two-rut road all the way to the end — grateful that we had not met anyone coming toward us. While there were very few butterflies, we were treated to the most glorious view of the most awesome lighthouse on the shore of Bay de Noc. There was a woman there so caught up using her cell phone’s camera — attached to the end of a selfie stick — to get close-up shots of flowers that she completely missed the larger picture. We never once observed her actually looking out at the water, experiencing it only as a narrow background through her cell phone’s camera lens.

The final, and to us the saddest, example of not being engaged in the moment occurred on a recent visit to Green Bay. We had always wanted to try Che Fusion, a restaurant we learned not only promised exceptional food but a dining experience unsurpassed by any we had encountered. As we sat enjoying our table, the view, our waiter’s attention, and great conversation over a delicious four-course meal, we could not help but notice a nearby couple. They were close to our age, and judging by the flowers on the table, it was a special occasion — maybe an anniversary, we guessed. They were both busy on their cell phones and never looked up or even engaged with each other until their food arrived. To us, it was such a missed opportunity to share a lovely occasion.

Granted, everyone’s idea of what constitutes a good time is different. And, admittedly, we may be a bit old school. But, I definitely prefer to experience my world through my own eyes rather than through a device resting in the palm of my hand.





Scenes and Sounds, 11:30 a.m. Sunday through Saturday.

Sunday: Toss across, 1 p.m.; dunking donuts, 2 p.m.; church, 2:15 p.m.

Monday: Room visits, 10 a.m.; brouhaha, 11 a.m.; library cart, 1:30 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; ice cream social, 3 p.m.

Tuesday: Crochet, 10:30 a.m.; reminisce, 1:15 p.m.; Kentucky Derby, 2 p.m.

Wednesday: Room visits, 10 a.m.; rosary, 10:30 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; movie and popcorn, 3 p.m.

Thursday: Reading buddy, 11 a.m.; Bible study, 1:15 p.m.; Crystal Hogan, 2 p.m.; “Lawrence Welk,” 4:30 p.m.

Friday: What’s cooking? 11 a.m.; parlor games, 1:15 p.m.; Golden K bingo, 2 p.m.; happy hour, 3 p.m.

Saturday: Meet and greet, 10:30 a.m.; daily newspaper, 11 a.m.; oldies but goodies, 1 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; evening news, 6 p.m.

Iron County 

Medical Facility

Crystal Falls

Sunday: One-to-One church visitors, 8:30-11 a.m.; room visits 9-11 a.m.; Yahtzee, 10 a.m.; afternoon matinee with popcorn, 1:30 p.m.

Monday: Crafts, 9-10:30 a.m.; exercise, 11 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; sunshine club, 2:30 p.m.

Tuesday: Room visits, 9 a.m.; book club, 10 a.m.; Catholic Mass, 10 a.m.; Iron River St. Vinnies, 12:30 p.m.; travel film, 1:30 p.m.; current events, 2 p.m.; action movie, 6 p.m.

Wednesday: Coffee social/travel club, 10 a.m.; exercise, 11 a.m.; getting pretty, 1:15 p.m.; men’s club, 2 p.m.; night bingo, 6 p.m.

Thursday: Puzzler, 9:30 a.m.; bowling, 10 a.m.; Bible study, 1 p.m.; wildlife film, 1:30 p.m.; Christ United, 2 p.m.; happy hour, 2:30 p.m.

Friday: Crafts, 9-10:30 a.m.; exercise, 11 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; ’50s party with Jan and Geno, 2 p.m.; ’50s movie, 6 p.m.

Saturday: “Price Is Right”/Pictionary 10 a.m.; geri-gym, 11 p.m.; intergenerational social hour, 2 p.m.

Manor Care


Wet your whistle: 9:30 a.m. Sunday through Saturday.

Exercise: 10 a.m. Sunday through Saturday.

Movie: 10:45 a.m. Sunday through Saturday and 3:15 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Popcorn Day: Every Friday

Sunday: Just jokes, 10:15 a.m.; company’s coming room visits, 1:30 p.m.; Protestant church, 3 p.m.

Monday: Who, what, when, 10:15 a.m.; Catholic Mass, 2 p.m.; chips and chatter, 2:30 p.m., pokeno, 5:45 p.m.

Tuesday: Who am I? 10:15 a.m.; Lutheran church, 2 p.m.; movie and manicure, 5:45 p.m.

Wednesday: Table talk, 10:15 a.m.; Golden Throats music, 2 p.m.; flip five, 5:45 p.m.

Thursday: Crosswords, 10:15 a.m.; K bingo, 2 p.m.; crazy for cards, 5:45 p.m.

Friday: ABC game, 10:15 a.m.; Catholic Mass, 2 p.m.; chips and chatter, 2:30 p.m.

Saturday: Current events, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.

Maryhill Manor

Niagara, Wis.

Rosary, 8:30 a.m. Sunday through Friday.

Sunday: Help your neighbor, 10:15 a.m.; tailgate party – Packers vs. Cowboys, 1:30 p.m.; Protestant service, 2:30 p.m., Christian fellowship, 5:30 p.m.

Monday: Spelling bee,10:15 a.m.; nickel jokereno, 2 p.m.; Chaplet of Divine Mercy, 3 p.m.; Baptist service, 6 p.m.

Tuesday: Current events, 10:15 a.m.; resident council, 2 p.m.; time slips, 2:30 p.m.; sing along by the Steinbrechers, 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Protestant service, 9 a.m.; you be the judge, 10:15 a.m.; jokereno, 2 p.m.; Chaplet of Divine Mercy, 3 p.m.; movie and popcorn, 6:15 p.m.

Thursday: Catholic Mass, 9 a.m.; Scattegories, 10:15 a.m.; rummage bingo, 2 p.m.; help your neighbor, 6:15 p.m.

Friday: Protestant service, 9 a.m.; exercise, 10:15 a.m.; short stories, 10:30 a.m.; happy hour with Ron W., 2 p.m.

Saturday: Baking, 10:15 a.m.; pamper and polish, 2 p.m.; bingo, 5:45 p.m.

Victorian Pines

Iron Mountain

Juice time, 10 a.m. Sunday through Saturday.

Exercise, 11 a.m. Monday through Friday.

Shopping days: 10 a.m. Tuesdays and Fridays, must sign up.

Sunday: Bible study, 2:30 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.; Packers vs. Cowboys, 3:25 p.m.

Monday: Bingo, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Tuesday: Trivia, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Wednesday: Bingo, 2 p.m., refreshments, 3 p.m. 

Thursday: Music with “The Girls,” 2 p.m..; rosary, 3 p.m.

Friday: Bingo, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Saturday: Movie and popcorn, 2 p.m.

Florence Health Services

Florence, Wis.

Morning news, 6 a.m. daily.

Beauty shop open Tuesday and Thursday

Snack cart, 7 p.m. Sunday through Saturday

Sunday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; music with Grace and Dave, 2 p.m.

Monday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; coffee and chat, 11 a.m.; resident council meeting, 2 p.m.

Tuesday: Fall pumpkin craft, 10 a.m.; coffee and chat, 11 a.m.; music with Jan and Gino, 2:30 p.m.; social hour, 3:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Uno, 10 a.m.; coffee and chat, 11 a.m.; leaf painting, 2 p.m.; social hour, 3 p.m.

Thursday: Pastor Jason, 10 a.m.; coffee and chat, 11 a.m.; manicures, 2 p.m.

Friday: Catholic church service, 10 a.m.; coffee and chat, 11 a.m.; “Wheel of Fortune,” 2 p.m.; social hour, 3 p.m.

Saturday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; music with Jason and Amber, 2 p.m.

Pinecrest Medical Care Facility


Sunday: Lunch at Long Branch, 10:30 a.m.; Pictionary, 2 p.m.; phase 10, 3:30 p.m.

Monday: Life connections, 10 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 p.m.; worship and communion service, 1:30 p.m.; rosary (1st), 2 p.m.; bean bag toss, 3:30 p.m.; Scrabble, 6 p.m.

Tuesday: Veterans’ program, 10 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 p.m.; bingo, 1:45 p.m.; scattegories, 3:30 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Karaoke, 10 a.m.; Jim Clements, 2 p.m.; cribbage, 3:30 p.m.; room visits, 6 p.m.

Thursday: Shopping outing, 10:30 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 p.m.; bingo, 1:45 p.m.; cards, 3:30 p.m.; Sorry board game, 6 p.m.

Friday: Lunch outing, 11:30 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 a.m.; happy hour, 2:30 p.m.; Bunco, 3:30 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 6 p.m.

Saturday: Trivia, 10:15 a.m.; coffee social, 10:30 a.m.; mind joggers, 2 p.m.; sensory, 3:30 p.m.


Note: All centers ask for 24-hour advanced reservations for lunch. Those who have meals delivered who will not be home should notify the center.

Alpha-Mastodon Center


Meal at noon every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

Amasa Center


Open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Lunch at noon.

Bingo on Tuesdays.

Free meal drawing on Thursdays.

Menu for the week:

Tuesday: Chop suey, rice, stir fry vegetable blend, Mandarin oranges

Wednesday: Ham scalloped potatoes, peas, corn relish

Thursday: Meat loaf, baked potatoes, California vegetable blend, salad

Breen Center


Meals Monday through Friday.

Pasty sale every third Saturday of the month, except on holidays. 

Cards and games available 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 2 p.m. 

Hostess on duty Monday through Friday.   

Treats and coffee, 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Center retail store is open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday; volunteers and donations are welcome.

Birthdays acknowledged every day.

Evening meals are on the first and third Thursday of the month. Salad bar opens at 4 p.m., with dinner at 5 p.m. Donations are $4 for those 60 and older and $5 for 60 and younger.

Menu for the week:

Monday: Liver and onions, roasted potatoes, carrots

Tuesday: Pot roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, biscuit, green beans

Wednesday: Cheeseburger, potato wedges, baked beans

Thursday: Chicken pot pie, stewed tomatoes

Friday: Baked fish or chicken, parslied potatoes, cauliflower

Soup, salad and dessert are offered with every meal. Reservations for meals are encouraged. Walk-ins are welcomed.

Crystal Falls Center

Head cook: Lucy Korhonen


The center is not just for seniors – bring a friend.

Suggested meal donations: $5 if older than 60; $6 if younger than 60; $1 extra for take-out

To reserve meals, call the center by 1 p.m. with name and number of people.

All dinners include the soup and salad bar, homemade dessert, tea, coffee and milk

Open: Monday-Wednesday, 4:30 p.m. — soup and salad bar, 5 p.m. – dinner

Mondays: Basket weaving after dinner – all are welcome for dinner and/or class. Beginners can make their first basket with materials provided.

Menu for the week:

Monday: Unavailable

Tuesday: Unavailable

Wednesday: Unavailable

Crystal Lake Center

Christine McMahon

906-774-2256, ext. 235

The center is closed on weekends.

Monday: Woodcarvers, 10 a.m.; mahjong in dining hall, noon; Les Artistes Art Club, noon; Bridge Club, 12:15 p.m.

Tuesday and Thursday: Pinochle, 12:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: Billiards, 9:30 a.m.

Wednesday: Spinning Spools Quilters Guild, 1 p.m.; crafters, scrapbookers and others also welcome; knitting and crocheting class, 1 to 3 p.m.

Thursday: Happy Quilters, 1 p.m.; two-person team cribbage, 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Friday: Smear, noon.

The kitchen once again is open and serving meals. A new lunch program is offered every Wednesday from 11:45 to 12:45. Meals cost $5 for those younger than 60 and a $4 donation for 60 and older.

Home-delivered meal menu for the week:

Monday: Cabbage rolls, peas and carrots, dinner roll

Tuesday: Sloppy Joes, tater tots, broccoli

Wednesday: Beef roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn

Thursday: Chicken Cordon Bleu casserole, California blend vegetables

Friday: Sausage pizza, side salad

Center-based meal menu for week:

Tuesday evening: Beef roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn

Wednesday lunch: Meatball subs, creamy chicken spinach soup, salad bar

Transportation is available from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call Buzzin’ Around Town at 906-282-0492. Rides are $3 for age 60 and older, and $3.50 for younger than 60. 

Felch Center


Meals served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Wednesday.

Bingo after lunch on the first and third Wednesday of each month.

A congregate jigsaw puzzle is done daily.

Menu for the week:

Monday: Country-fried steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, mixed vegetables, peaches

Tuesday: Bratwurst with bun, baked beans, tropical fruit

Wednesday: Barbecue chicken, oven-browned potatoes, corn, oranges

Aging and Disability Resource Center of Florence County, Wis.


Director: Tiffany White

Suggested donation for seniors older than 60 is $4 per meal. Residents younger than 60 must pay $7. Reservations and cancellations are needed 48-hours in advance.

The ADRC can assist area seniors and those with disabilities with transportation Monday through Friday. Transportation reservation should be made with meal reservation.

Menu for the week:

Monday: Chicken alfredo over noodles, peas and carrots, peaches

Tuesday: Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes, broccoli, fruit cocktail

Wednesday: Chili with shredded cheese and onion, cornbread, cucumbers in sour cream, fruit pie

Thursday: Baked chicken, stuffing, au gratin potatoes, carrots, fruit

Friday: Bacon cheeseburger tater tot bake, biscuits, three bean salad, Mandarin oranges

Other assistance includes information on aging, benefits specialist, and care-giver support.

Fence Center/Town Hall

715-336-2980 – RSVP for meal at 855-528-2372

Meal at noon Wednesdays only – Same menu listed under ADRC of Florence County. Reservations are requested. Cribbage and cards are available.

Florence Community Center/Town Hall

RSVP for meal at 715-528-4261

Home-delivered meals are available. Meal is served at 11:30 a.m. at this center Monday thru Thursday, with the same menu as listed under ADRC of Florence County.

Tipler Town Hall

715-674-2320 – RSVP for meals.

Serving lunch at noon on the second Thursday of the month only, with the same menu as listed under ADRC of Florence County.

Hillcrest Senior Dining Center, Aurora

715-589-4491 – RSVP for meals

Meal is served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday, with the same menu as listed under ADRC of Florence County. Transportation arrangements can be made to and from the meal site.

Hermansville Center

Coordinator: Pam Haluska


Meal is at noon Monday through Friday. Suggested donation is $3 for age 60 and older and $7 for those younger than 60. Morning coffee is available daily.

Fifteen games of “fun bingo” are played each Tuesday and Friday, along with a 50-50 drawing.

Tuesday: Bingo, 12:45 p.m.

Wednesday: Cards played in the afternoon. Call ahead to see if a game will be going on.

Friday: Bingo, 12:45 p.m.

Monday through Friday: Walking in the gym, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. A treadmill also is available.

Enjoy friendly interaction with other crafters.

Iron River Center


Meals served 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; a $4 donation is encouraged from those 60 and older, and a $5 payment is required from those younger than 60. Thursday meal, 3:30 p.m. soup, 4 p.m. salad bar, with dinner 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Home-delivered meals are available — call 906-774-2256 ext. 235 or ext. 230.

Menu for the week:

Monday: Barbecue pulled pork, potato wedges, baked beans, fruit, milk

Tuesday: Salisbury steak, cheesy hash browns, peas, fruit, milk

Wednesday: Chicken breast sandwich, tater tots, California blend vegetables, fruit, milk

Thursday: Lasagna, wax beans, garlic bread, dessert, milk.

Saturday: Dance from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Cost is $6.

Niagara Northwoods Senior Cafe and Center

Meal site manager: Corrie Maule, 715-251-1603

Senior center director: Jill Anderson, 715-251- 4154

Noon meals served Monday through Thursday. Transportation is available to the meal site for those living in the Niagara, Wis., area. Any senior groups who would like to use the meal site as a meeting place are welcome — join us for lunch then stay for a meeting or social time. Wii games, cards, puzzles and board games are available to play. 

Other activities are in the works — suggestions are always welcome. 

Those who have not been at the meal site/senior center are invited to give it a try. Those who haven’t been here in a while are encouraged to come back.

Norway Center

Director: Susie Slining


Monday through Thursday: Meals served at noon, with salad bar. Soup also is available at 11 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Milk, juice, bread, fruit, tea and coffee served daily. Meal donation is $5. Reservation for the meal should be made in advance.

Two special-themed meals take place each month on Tuesday, with bingo, prizes and a 50-50 drawing.

Two evening meals offered at 5 p.m. on the first Monday and third Wednesday of the month, with bingo, prizes and a 50-50 drawing.

Menu for the week:

Monday: Noon — Polish sausage with sauerkraut, boiled potatoes, peas, fruit, juice, salad bar, dessert

Dinner at 5 p.m.: Company chicken dinner, mashed potatoes and gravy, vegetables, soup and salad bar, dessert

Tuesday: Columbus Day Dinner – boiled dinner of ham, carrots, potatoes, with biscuit, soup and salad bar, fruit, juice, dessert

Wednesday: Spaghetti or polenta with meat sauce, winter blend vegetables, salad bar, fruit, juice, dessert

Thursday: Chicken breast with Swiss cheese and mushrooms, garden rice, spinach, soup and salad bar, fruit, juice, dessert

Saturday: Leif Eriksen Festival at the Center 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. includes craft and bake sale and sloppy joe lunch for $5.00

Tuesday: Green Card Food Distribution 9:30 to 11 a.m. at Iron Mountain Center

Cards are played daily after the noon meal.

Craft and exercise classes: Mondays and Thursdays.

Ceramic and art classes: Wednesdays.

Puzzles always in the works.

Note: File of Life packets available at the center.

Sagola Center


Meals: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 11:45 a.m. Cards: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Commodities every other month and quarterly commodities are every three months. A puzzle table is available to enjoy. Volunteers are always welcome. 

Menu for the week:

Tuesday: Philly steak sandwich, potato wedges, green beans, Mandarin oranges

Wednesday: Roast turkey, stuffing, gravy, mixed vegetables, peaches

Thursday: Chili, bread, corn, pineapple.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)