It is important for elderly and seniors to be able to communicate with their family and friends. Landline phones help seniors feel connected to the world and not so alone. This is especially true when there is an emergency and they need to call for help. Sometimes, though, dementia and Alzheimer's keeps them from being able to use a phone properly. Other problems such as poor vision and hearing keep a senior from using the phone too. But there are options for elderly people in these situations. Here is how to find the best home landline phones for the elderly and seniors.
There are lots of challenges that keep an elderly person from being able to use their home phone. There are problems that are caused by the senior's medical issues such as loss of memory, vision, and hearing. Other problems are caused by the equipment if they are too hard to understand and use.
Elderly people with memory problems caused by medical issues like dementia or Alzheimer's will often have difficulty using the phone. Sometimes, they cannot remember phone numbers - especially in times of crisis. If the disease has progressed far enough, they often won't even know who to call.
There are phones though that can help an elderly person deal their memory issues. Phones that use pictures are particularly helpful. The elderly person calls out by just touching the button with the person's picture on it. No need to memorize or look up phone numbers!
For elderly people who are having trouble remembering family members or who they should call, there are phones with a programmable help button. Look for a phone with an easily identifiable help button. They are usually red and have a red cross symbol or say "911" on them. Then program the button to automatically call a trusted family member or friend. Program it to call straight to 911 unless false calls are likely.
Poor or failing eyesight makes a phone hard to use for some seniors. Medical issues like cataracts and retina problems make small buttons and numbers hard to read. Small buttons cause the elderly person to dial wrong numbers. This just adds to their embarrassment and frustration. Even though phones have standardized layouts, the senior may not see well enough to recognize it.
Thankfully, there are phones with big buttons that can help with vision problems. In addition to the just having bigger buttons and writing, some phones are easier to see because they also use high contrasting colors and print. For example, the numbers and words are dark in color and printed on a white background.
Perhaps nothing causes more frustration in elderly people than age-related hearing loss. Not hearing well and having to ask for someone to keep repeating themselves can be aggravating - for both parties. Hearing aids may not always help because some phones do not work well with them. They will actually cause interfering whistles and chirps that make conversations impossible.
There are several phones that boost the volume by amplifying the sound. Typical conversation is about 60 db, and there are phones that add 30, 40, and even 50 db to the conversation. Look for a phone with a built-in amplifier with these levels of amplification.
For an elderly person to use a phone, they must feel comfortable with it. This is a big reason many seniors use landline phones and have not adopted cell phones or smartphones. If it has too many buttons, switches, and options, one of two things will probably happen. First, the senior may refuse to use the phone because they don't understand it. This usually comes out of a fear of embarrassment or frustration. The other thing that may happen is they constantly call the wrong people or mess up the phone's settings requiring someone to fix it. Neither option is good!
When shopping for a new home phone for an elderly person, look for one that is simple to operate. The fewer buttons and switches the better. Keep it simple: number buttons, volume buttons, and maybe a hang up/answer button for a cordless model.
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.
Take a look at these recommendations. Most of these phones meet all the criteria above and can make using the phone simpler for the elderly person... and the caretaker!
The Clarity P300 is a great choice for elderly people who prefer the old, familiar standby phone. For elderly with vision problems, I like the easy to see photo buttons where the numbers of family and friends can be programmed right in. Then, the senior just presses the picture of the person they want to call. This will also help people facing dementia and Alzheimers. I also like that the numbers are very easy to see. For those facing a loss in hearing, this phone offers built-in amplification and both the ringer volume and handset volume can be adjusted. There is even a large flashing red light at the bottom for an additional alert.
The only potential negative I see on this phone is that there are several buttons on the bottom. If the senior is curious, they could press a few of these and mess up the programming.
This phone is about as simple as it gets for a regular home phone for the elderly. For those with dementia or confusion, it can be put into photo only mode. This allows the senior to call by pushing the photo of the person only. Then, the phone dials that person. This mode can be turned off too for higher functioning seniors. There is also a bright red 911 button for quick emergency calls. If you are worried about false 911 calls though, this button can be programmed to call somewhere else also. These features are also helpful for those with vision problems.
For elderly with hearing difficulties, this phone boosts the incoming call volume by 40 db which is one of the loudest. The ringer can be set to hi/lo/off and there is also a bright red LED that lights up when the phone rings.
This phone has few buttons to mess with too. The programming function requires multiple steps so it is unlikely they can accidentally erase the programming on this one. This is the best choice for simplicity and ease of use for those facing memory and hearing issues.
This cordless phone has features that will help seniors with poor vision, hearing, and even arthritis. The big buttons with high contrast print also light up for easy viewing - day or night. Elderly users will also be able to hear it ring with different melodies and volume levels to choose from. The soft touch buttons are easy to press and will cause less pain for those with arthritis joints. This is a great choice for seniors who want the freedom to take their phone with them while being able to see and hear it.
There aren't many helpful features though for people with dementia or Alzheimers. There are 10 memory settings and the address book holds 100 phone numbers. But, getting to the phone numbers will be difficult to remember due to the multiple steps. For these folks, it may be best to stick to a corded phone where there are more options due to the larger size.
The phone system from Clarity is the best choice for someone who wants the complete package in their phone but does not want to buy extra pieces of equipment. This phone has a corded regular landline phone, a cordless phone, a speakerphone and a digital answering machine. And... all of these are adapted for use by the elderly.
For the senior with vision problems, there are large, easy to read buttons. The caller ID screen also uses big print and lights up for clear, simple reading of the display. The cordless handset also big buttons with high contrast print.
For elderly with poor hearing, this phone amplifies incoming calls 40 dB. Even the answering machine message playback and speakerphone use amplification to make calls clear. There are also 10 ringing patterns with 6 volume levels to choose from so that the senior won't miss calls.
For seniors with dementia and Alzheimer's, there are a few features to help - especially beginning stages. There are more buttons than I recommend for this group BUT the buttons are clear what they are used for and are easy to read. There are also 5 memory buttons BUT there is no where to write whose number is stored in that slot. Although, the name and number will display on the screen once pressed. This could help.
I hope this list of the best home phones for the elderly and seniors with medical problems has helped! Do you have any experience using landline phones with elderly people? Is there a model or device that worked well for you? Please share with my readers in the comments below!