It is important for elderly and seniors to be able to communicate with their family and friends.
Having easy to use home 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. However, shopping for phones for the elderly can be a huge undertaking.
What are the best landline phones for seniors? Use this buying guide to find the best home phone for the senior in your life.
Reviews of Home Phones for Seniors and the Elderly
Future Call FC-1507 Big Button Phone with 40db Handset Volume
This big button phone for seniors from Future Call has a ton of features that will really help these folks. It has nearly every feature I suggest for a phone for the elderly and is well rated by users too. Here are the things I really like about this phone:
Large, Easy to Read Numbers
As you can see by the picture, the buttons are very large and the print on them is extremely easy to read. Most seniors will have no trouble seeing and using big buttons like these!
There is a volume control on the handset that boosts the incoming sound by up to 40 more dB. This is a pretty significant increase. The receiver is also hearing aid compatible. There is also a Ringer Hi/Lo switch for adjustments to the ringer volume. For those who may have trouble hearing the ringer, there is also a flashing red LED light too.
Bright Red 911 Key
For emergency calls, there is an easy to see and use emergency key. This emergency key can call 911 or someone else you program for help. And, the number is backed up for life – even in the event of a power outage.
12 Memory Speed Dials
There are 12 memory speed dial locations too for quick calls. But, using these memory dialing requires pressing a series of buttons to dial out. It isn’t super complicated but there are a few steps. However, the numbers are backed up for life even without power.
This is by far the best big button phone for seniors. The buttons are large and easy to see, I also like that this phone has lots of safety features built in like the emergency key, permanent programming, and it works during a power outage. There are additional features too that make it a great phone for hard of hearing seniors.
Future Call FC-0613 Picture Care Desktop Phone
This phone is about as simple as it gets for a regular home phone for the elderly.
Photo Only Mode
For those with dementia or confusion, this phone can run in 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 who won’t have trouble making their own calls.
911 Emergency Button
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.
Also Read: Best Panic Alarms for Elderly People
Volume and Ringer Controls
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. The receiver is also hearing aid compatible.
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.
For the simplest phone for seniors with dementia or Alzheimers, this one is probably the easiest. It can literally work by pushing a picture to call a person. Wrong numbers and calls to the wrong people can be minimized too with this type of picture phone. It also has lots of features too to help seniors with vision problems and hearing difficulties.
Trimline Corded Phone for Seniors And Hearing Impaired
This corded home phone for seniors by RCA combines some of the best features of the two phones above. It has bigger buttons similar to the big button phones and also the photo memory dialing features of the picture phones.
The buttons on this phone are not as large as those on the big button phones above but they are significantly larger than the standard phone buttons. The contrast is not as sharp either. But, many elderly people will be able to use it just fine. The main exception will be those with severe vision problems.
Picture Photo Dialing
There are 4 photo memory dialing locations on this phone too. This is a good way to program family members or frequent contacts into the phone for quick dialing. This could really be beneficial in an emergency. But, unlike the picture phones above, this one operates more like a normal phone too. The photos don’t take up all of the space or buttons.
This phone also adds the handy feature of a speakerphone. Some seniors say they hear better when using a speakerphone. It also allows them to talk while they walk and look something up. This could reduce the chance of them tripping on the cord while moving if they have the receiver in their hand.
Receiver volume is amplified by up to 20 dB on this model. This should be sufficient for many seniors but those with profound hearing loss may need more boost. There is also volume control for the ringer and the speakerphone volume too. and it is hearing aid compatible.
This landline phone for seniors by AT&T is a great choice for seniors who are beginning to have difficulty or who have moderate difficulty using a phone. It combines toe most important features of big button phones and picture phones while also having the sound amplification and ease of use features that many seniors need.
RCA Corded Phone With Enhanced Visual Ringer, 1123-1WTGA
Well, if there ever was a simple phone for elderly people than this is it. This trimline phone is a bit retro and a design that many elderly people will be familiar with. It looks a lot like the princess styled phones of the 60’s and 70’s.
Big, Clear Buttons
The best use for a simple, big button trimstyle phone is for seniors who are primarily having vision problems. The bright white buttons are large and the contrasting black bold print is easy to see too. They are also backlit for easier viewing and use at night or in the dark.
Amplified Receiver and Ringer
The ringer and the receiver are both amplified for improved volume and sound. There is also a flashing light when the phone rings for an additional alert.
No Memory Functions Though
But, for seniors with more serious medical problems, there aren’t any memory features so I wouldn’t recommend this phone for dementia patients.
Buying Guide: Finding an Easy to Use Phone for Seniors
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. Some won’t even use a cordless phone.
The Fewer Buttons and Options the Better
If the home phone 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 a very simple phone with only the necessary features. The fewer buttons and switches the better. Keep it simple: number buttons, volume buttons, and maybe a hangup/answer button.
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.
Big Button Phones for Seniors
In addition to there being fewer buttons, look at the size of the buttons too. Seniors with arthritis especially will have trouble pushing the small buttons on many phones. Seniors with vision problems will also have trouble seeing the print on those small buttons.
Look for what is called a big button phone for seniors with these challenges. These phones have very large buttons (hence the name, huh?). And, they are usually easier to see too because they have big bold numbers and letters on a contrasting background. The buttons are usually black writing on a white background or the other way around. Either option is fine but I think black letters on white buttons are easier to see.
Many of the phones designed for seniors have highly visible emergency call buttons. Many of these are preprogrammed to call 911 but others have buttons that can be programmed to call a family member instead. Usually, these buttons are bright red and easy to find. Of course, that is what you want. Look for a phone that the elderly user can easily find this important button.
There are two different areas where you need to consider the volume of the phone. The first is the ringer. The best phone for the elderly should ring loud with a high, repeating sound. Phones that play music when they ring or have deep buzzing ringers are often difficult for seniors to hear. The loud ring of a physical bell like the old phones seems to be the easiest to hear. Some of the newer phones mock these ringers quite well electronically. It is also important that the volume of the ringer can adjust to the hearing level of the senior.
Another volume option to consider is the receiver volume. Many elderly folks have some level of hearing loss and many wear hearing aids or personal sound amplifier alternatives. There are several models of corded phones for seniors that automatically amplify the volume of the incoming caller. Others allow this to be adjusted manually with a slide switch or button. 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.
Speakerphones for Seniors
Many seniors say they hear phone calls better by using the speakerphone option. My own grandmother puts her phone on speaker when she uses it. A speakerphone uses a speaker outside of the receiver to play the incoming call. Because it plays the phone call externally, it will be louder than listening through the receiver only. The drawback though is that anyone near can listen to the call, so there is a definite loss of privacy.
Picture Phones for Dementia
Picture phones can be handy for seniors too. Picture phones are phones for the elderly that have replaced some or all of the buttons on the phone with pictures.
For programmed numbers, most phones have a slip of paper or a label where you write the person’s name and/or number. For example, Memory #1 is Aunt Betty, #2 is Danny your son, etc. This writing often ends up small and hard to read.
So, instead of a senior trying to remember a phone number or trying to read this small print, they can simply press the photo of the person they wish to call. This prevents wrong calls to the wrong people and makes it easier for the senior to call out.
If you’re looking for a phone for a senior with dementia, you may want to look at a picture phone where all the buttons have been replaced with photos. If the intended user doesn’t have dementia and you are looking for a simpler phone for them to use, you can get a picture phone where the pictures are used for the memory locations only. Big number buttons are included for dialing other numbers.
Corded vs. Cordless Phones for the Elderly
Each of these have advantages and disadvantages for seniors. It honestly depends on the senior and their abilities as to which is the best phone for them.
Corded phones usually have louder ringers and louder receiver volume. They are generally easier to hear. Corded landline phones also have larger buttons and are easier to see when dialing. Screens that show Caller ID and other options are also larger and easier to see on a corded phone vs a cordless phone.
But corded phones do have one main disadvantage – that curly cord. This is a trip hazard for many seniors. You see, often times seniors will add 20, 30, or even 50 ft cords to their phone so they can go sit in a comfy chair while they talk. This cord presents an opportunity for a fall. Falls, of course, can be quite serious with seniors. Even seniors who do not have mobility issues should take care to not get tangled in the cord while walking.
So, of course, the main advantage of a cordless phone for the elderly is that there is no cord to get tangled up in. The senior can move about freely while they talk without fear of tripping on a cord.
Cordless phones, though, are generally smaller than corded phones. This is good and bad. The smaller size allows them to be carried throughout the house so that the senior always has a phone nearby. Often they even come with belt clips.
But, the smaller size has its problems too. The buttons are just naturally going to be smaller too. The ringer and receiver may not be as loud either.
Thinking a cordless phone is what you need? Read more about my recommendations here.
Problems Elderly People Have Using Phones
There are lots of challenges that can keep an elderly person from being able to use their home phone. Sometimes 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. 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.
Overcoming Memory Issues
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.
Overcoming Vision Problems
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.
Overcoming Hearing Problems
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 can make conversation impossible.
When choosing the best phone for the elderly person in your life, it is important to take their medical status into account. Do they have vision problems that make phones hard to see? Are they hard of hearing and cannot hear the phone ring? Or, maybe they get frustrated because they cannot hear the person calling them very well.
There are many phones for seniors that have adaptations for these problems. There are landline phones that boost the receiver volume making it easier to hear callers. Some home phones for seniors have extra loud ringers so that they don’t miss calls. Big button phones have buttons that are larger than normal and are easy to read. For seniors who need help quickly, some phones have special buttons that make emergency calling fast and safe. And, there are even special phones for dementia patients that have pictures on them for memory calling so that the user can call the right person to get the help they need.
Here are my quick picks and favorites of these recommendations. I think the RCA Amplified Big Button Phone is the overall best landline home phone for seniors. It has most of the features I recommend at a great price.
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!