Cordless phones have some distinct advantages and disadvantages for seniors. They offer more convenience and safety but are often more complicated to use. When choosing a cordless phone, find one that has big buttons that are easy to see, lots of volume amplification, a choice of loud ringers, plus emergency dialing features.
Income Disclosure: I may earn a small advertising fee (at no extra cost to you) when you click links on this page. Learn More.
Cordless phones also offer several advantages for seniors. One of the most important benefits is that can carry these phones with them wherever they go in the home. That way, they always have a phone with them.
But, there are some drawbacks too. They usually have smaller buttons and are often hard for some seniors to use.
I’ll go over these benefits and drawbacks in the buying guide below. I’ll also talk about the important features you should consider when shopping for a senior friendly cordless phone.
But first, here are my recommended models that will improve independence and reduce frustration in the lives of seniors and the elderly.
Table of Contents
Cordless Phone Reviews for Seniors
Clarity XLC2+ Amplified Cordless Big Button Speakerphone
If the cordless handset has too many buttons, switches, and options, it won’t get used. This is usually because of frustration or embarrassment – not understanding how to use it. Or, they will use it incorrectly and call the wrong people. Another possibility is that they might mess up the settings and the phone won’t work correctly. None of these possibilities are good!
So, look for phones that only have basic functions and as few buttons as possible. Functions to look for are: number buttons for dialing, volume buttons or switches, and maybe a hangup/answer button for a cordless model. One touch dial buttons are another good thing to have.
If you have trouble finding a phone with only those buttons, here is a great hack. Use black tape to cover up the other buttons so they elderly person won’t be tempted to press them. This is also a great idea to make a phone they already have more usable.
2. Big Button Phones for Seniors
Also, look closely at the button size too. Arthritic hands will often struggle with pushing the small buttons on many phones. The print is smaller on them too!
This is why the most popular phones for seniors are “big button” phones. These phones have very large buttons (hence the name, huh?). They are easier to see and use because they have big bold numbers that often contrast with the background. The usual combination is black print on white buttons or white print on black buttons.
3. Ringer Volume
Hearing the phone ring is, of course, important. Look for a phone with a loud ringer that has a high, repeating sound. If the phone uses melodic tones, get one that has a choice of tones so that you can find the setting that is the easiest to hear.
The loud ring of a physical bell like the old wall mounted phones seems to be the easiest to hear. Some newer models duplicate this sound very well. It is also important that the volume of the ringer can adjust to the hearing level of the senior.
4. Volume Amplification
Another volume option to think about is the receiver volume. Many seniors have hearing problems or even wear hearing aids.
The models recommended above automatically boost the volume of the incoming caller. Some are controlled by a switch. Typical conversation is about 60 db and there are phones that add 30, 40, and even 50 db to the conversation.
Choose a phone with a built-in amplifier with as much boost as needed.
5. Memory Dialing
Calling people at the touch of a button is another great feature for seniors. They won’t have to take the time to look up their loved one’s numbers during emergencies.
Also, the senior won’t have to rely on their own memory for phone numbers either. This is important for seniors with dementia or fading memories. (I have some specific recommendations for these folks you can see by clicking here).
The memory buttons should be as large as possible. Unfortunately, there is limited space on cordless handsets. Another option is to write the name of the person next to the button on a label or tape if there is room. Some models have a chart on the base for you to write in the names who are programmed into the phone.
6. Emergency Calling
Think about how the senior will reach someone in an emergency. Memory dialing buttons are important for this. Pushing one button will immediately call someone for help. Buttons that are red and stand out are the best option. You want them to find this button quickly when needed.
7. Speakerphones for Seniors
Many seniors like to use speakerphones because the volume is louder. My own grandmother used the speaker on her cordless handset for most calls. Although, there is no privacy in this situation. Anyone can hear the call.
Corded vs. Cordless Phones for the Elderly: Which is Best?
Trying to decide if a corded landline phone or a cordless model is best for your situation?
There are advantages and disadvantages to each type. The answer may depend on the current or future problems the senior is having.
You may not have to pick between them either. Combination phone products have a corded phone base with cordless handset too.
Most of the advantages of a standard phone have to do with its larger size.
Standard corded phones usually have louder ringers and louder receiver volume. So, they are generally easier to hear.
The buttons on a corded phone are larger and easier to see. Even the Caller ID screen / menu screen is bigger on a corded phone.
But the one huge disadvantage they have is that long, stretchy cord. These cords invite a trip or fall to happen. People often add extra long cords to their phones: 20, 30, or even 50 ft long. They do this so they can move about while on a long call. .
Cords like these easily get wrapped around the feet. Senior falls can get serious quick. Avoid them at all costs.
I’ll bet you can guess the main advantage. No cord gets wrapped around their feet! Now the senior can move about while talking on the phone without having to worry about where the cord is.
This smaller size has both advantages and disadvantages. The small size and lack of a cord lets the senior take the phone with them as they move about the house. That way, they will always have a phone close if they need it. Many models even have clips on them so they attach to a pocket or belt.
But, there are problems with the smaller size too. Buttons and screen are not as large because there is less space for these kind of options. Sometimes the volumes aren’t quite as loud either. Although, all the models I have recommended above have very loud ringers.
Why Are Some Cordless Phones Difficult to Use for Seniors?
Medical problems and the process of aging itself makes phones difficult to use. This is even the case for a phone a senior has used for years after a change in medical or mental status. The main issues are memory problems, vision deficits, and difficulty hearing. Problems like these really affect the ability to use both phones and computers for many seniors.
Choosing the right device though will help seniors overcome these problems.
Memory Issues Caused Dementia or Alzheimer’s
Medical issues like dementia or Alzheimer’s lead to memory deficits. Often, seniors with these conditions cannot recall phone numbers – especially in an emergency.
Programmable memory buttons are helpful in this situation. Choose a cordless phone system that has memory dial buttons that are large as possible. Also, look for a phone that has one button set up specially for emergency calls. Often this button is red or larger than the others.
Program this button to automatically call a loved one or relative. Another option is to Program it to call 911 as long as the user isn’t likely to make false calls to them.
As our vision fails us, phones become hard to see and use. I’ve experienced this with my cell phone even in my mid-40’s. Medical issues like cataracts and retina problems make it even harder to read small print. This leads to misdialed numbers, embarrassment, and even frustration.
Thankfully, a large button cordless phone for the visually impaired is very helpful for these seniors. In addition to the just making the buttons larger, the print on these phones have better contrast too. For example, the numbers and words are dark in color and printed on a white background – or vice-versa.
Hard of Hearing or Hearing Loss
Aging related hearing loss is particularly frustrating for senior. Continually asking people to repeat themselves is aggravating – for both parties. Hearing aids may not always help because some phones are not compatible. If you have ever heard those whistles and chirps, you know they make conversation impossible.
Fortunately though, there are now amplified phones for seniors. These phones boost sound making it easier for them to hear the call. And, they are hearing aid compatible!
Summary and Final Recommendations
Vision problems, hearing challenges, and other medical issues create problems in the lives of many seniors. Using a telephone is unfortunately no exception. Phones are their lifeline to the outside world. It is important they have a phone they can use – and can trust.
There are specially adapted phones on the market that help overcome these issues. The best cordless phones for seniors have:
I hope this guide helped! Do you have any experience using cordless handsets with elderly people? Is there a model or device that worked well for you? Please share with my readers in the comments below!