It’s not at all uncommon for elders in the beginning stages of Dementia or Alzheimer’s to struggle with using the phone.
Some days are better than others, of course. Often, the problems show up as forgetting common phone numbers. Sometimes, they may not even remember who is it they are calling. Phones are meant to be one of the most important means of communication. But, they all too often end up becoming a challenging piece of tech for seniors.
There are easy to use phones for seniors with dementia though. Read on to see what options are available. And, how you can find the best one for you or your loved one.
Comparison Chart: Phones for Dementia
In a hurry or just want to see my top picks? Here you go! Keep reading to learn more about each model or to learn more about buying phones for seniors with dementia in general.
Where to Buy
Future Call FC-0613
Serene Innovations HD-40
Vtech SN6307 Accessory Phone
Vtech SN5147 Amplified Combo Phone System
Vtech SN5127 Amplified Cordless Phone System
Suggested Phones for Seniors with Dementia or Alzheimer’s
Here are a few of my recommended phones. These phones have a great blend of the dementia friendly features are pretty affordable too.
Future Call FC-0613 Picture Care Desktop Phone
The photo number storing and protective features make this one of the best phones for people with dementia. Even patients with severe memory loss can use this picture care phone with minimal issues. Phone calls can cause many issues for seniors with dementia and disabilities, and this phone is designed to address that.
When someone is suffering from dementia, they may no longer be able to remember phone numbers. Going through all of the steps of making a call can be difficult, if not impossible. The Future Call FC-0613 phone makes it easier for seniors to dial their loved ones. The phone features 10 “memory buttons” that allow 1×1 pictures to be installed. Each button can be programmed to dial a specific phone number. Making a phone call will only require a single push of a button.
The phone also includes protective features that will allow seniors to enjoy this phone’s features with minimal issues. It has an on/off switch that can disable memory storing. Users won’t be able to overwrite the numbers that have been programmed. It’s also possible to disable standard dialing, which means users will only be able to dial 911 and the programmed numbers. Family members can set up this phone for their loved ones and allow them to use it on their own.
- One-touch dialing makes calling a breeze
- Programmed numbers aren’t lost if the phone is unplugged
- Seniors can’t program or replace a number by mistake
- Phone is already programmed to call 911
- Hearing aid compatible
- Corded phone can’t be moved from room to room
- Handset cord is short and may need to be replaced
- One-touch calling can lead to accidental calls
- Seniors could unintentionally dial 911. However, the red 911 button can be reprogrammed
- No speakerphone functionality
Serene Innovations HD-40P High Definition Amplified Photo Phone
This Serene Innovations phone was designed for seniors and the features that it offers reflect that. Although it isn’t an ideal choice for all users, it’s equipped with features that make it an excellent choice for patients with dementia. This is one of the most senior-friendly phone models on the market today.
Patients with dementia may find it difficult to complete basic tasks, such as making a phone call. Serene Innovations HD-40P High Definition Amplified Photo Phone is designed to address that. The phone allows you to install nine different memory photo buttons so that you can call someone with the touch of a button.
At times, someone with dementia may not be able to remember the name of the person that they want to call. One-touch photo calling can help people reach their loved ones even when their memory has seriously deteriorated. It eliminates a lot of the confusion associated with phone usage.
It’s common for people with dementia to struggle with other issues, such as hearing or vision loss. These are issues that this phone was designed to address. It also visual ring flashers, which means users can see when they’re getting a call. The numbers on the phone are also over-sized, allowing patients with deteriorating eyesight to read them without issue.
The phone is even hearing aid compatible, which means people with hearing loss will be able to hear conversations.
- Memory Buttons are simple to set up
- Dementia patients can make phone calls even when they’re experienced severe memory loss
- Volume settings make it easier to hear clearly
- Phone is durable and can withstand wear and tear
- Corded handset isn’t ideal for people with limited mobility
- Only one handset is available
- Users will need in-person assistance to set up one-touch calling
- Large buttons are easy to press accidentally
Vtech SN6307 Careline Accessory Handset With Photo Speed Dial
The VTech SN6307 CareLine phone is an accessory handset that can be paired with the SN6127, SN6187, SN6197 or SN6197 phones to give users convenient access to a phone in an additional room. This phone is easy to use with a full-duplex speakerphone feature and clear audio quality. It is a good choice for seniors with dementia thanks to its simple interface.
This is one of many devices in the VTech line for senior citizens. As with some of the other devices, getting the phone to work out of the box can be tricky, so this is something that you should buy and install for your loved one, rather than leaving them to figure it out. Once it is working, however, it is reliable and well made. The simple interface is perfect for older users who are having memory or motor control difficulties, but still want to retain their independence.
This accessory phone is designed with ease of use in mind. Unlike a standard phone with buttons to enter phone numbers and access menu options, this phone cuts everything back to a bare minimum. Even the dialing numbers are removed, replaced instead with four photo speed dial options, and three buttons “Talk”, “Off”, and “Speaker”.
This reduces confusion for people with dementia or who struggle to remember phone numbers and how to operate complex devices. Your senior loved ones can enjoy the peace of mind of knowing that all they have to do is push the button with your photo on it, and they can reach you in seconds.
- Incredibly easy to use
- Four large speed dial buttons
- No confusing menus or difficult to read displays
- No number buttons on this handset
- Can be confusing to configure at first
VTech SN5147 Amplified Corded/Cordless Answering System
This phone is easy to use and is a good choice for a senior who has memory issues or sometimes gets confused when using more sophisticated devices. The phone can pair with other VTech cordless add-ons such as SOS alert buttons, which makes it useful for people with mobility issues as well.
This VTech cordless phone is designed for use by senior citizens, as is evident by the simplicity of the design and the accessibility features. This is a two-part product, a simple corded phone and a second cordless phone with a charging station.
The phones include an audio assist feature that makes it easy for seniors who are hard of hearing to turn up the volume with just a single button press. The big, clearly labeled buttons are a boon for those with eyesight difficulties, and also for those with dementia.
Learning to use a new feature phone is confusing enough even for adults that are accustomed to technology. For a senior with dementia, it can be an even more frustrating experience. This VTech phone takes away many common sources of frustration. Buttons are large, bold and clearly describe what they do. Digits ‘talk’ so that the user knows that the number was properly pressed, and the call blocking button has a voice guide so that the user understands what is happening. This is a phone that is reassuringly simple to use.
- Large and easy to understand buttons
- One click volume control
- Picture speed dial for key family contacts
- Loud ring tone and clear audio
- Automatically blocks robocalls
- The mute button is close to the call button and easy to hit by mistake
- Seniors may need help to set up and pair the cordless handset
VTech VTSN5127 Amplified Cordless Answering System
If you are looking for an easy to use cordless phone, it is hard to go wrong with VTech models, and this particular cordless device offers good build quality and a nice set of features.
The VTech SN5127 is an amplified cordless phone with answering machine and smart number-blocking features. This phone is a good choice for senior citizens with eyesight difficulties and also for those with hearing issues or dementia.
As with the other phones in the VTech range, this cordless phone is designed with ease of use in mind. The buttons are large and clearly labeled. There is a visual ringer and a caller-ID feature so the user can both see and hear that there is a call coming in, and decide whether they feel up to answering that caller.
The base station has four large speed-dial buttons that can have photos inserted into them so that the user can simply push the correct photo to call the associated number. For some seniors with memory issues, this is far more convenient and easier to remember than trying to navigate a complex phonebook memory.
The base unit’s buttons are big and tactile, so people who struggle with fine motor control can still use the phone with confidence.
The call blocking feature is something that is often overlooked when people are choosing a phone for their elderly relatives. This feature blocks a large percentage of incoming robocalls, reducing the stress of unwanted calls and offering some protection against scammers. The feature does not claim to stop all calls, but it is still worthy of note as a nice addition on this phone.
- Large buttons
- Photo speed dial
- Visual ringer
- Very easy to use
- Can be combined with other VTech products
- Can be confusing to configure
- No backlight on the buttons
Key Features To Look For While Choosing Phones for Seniors with Dementia
There are many phone options to choose from. But, if you want to select a phone for somebody with dementia, you could consider a phone with the following features:
Phones for Dementia Checklist
- A complicated phone with too many buttons is often hard to learn for most every senior. But, they can be overwhelming for seniors with dementia. Choose a phone with only a few buttons. The buttons should be large enough to clearly see which buttons are being pressed.
- Look at phones that have a space beside the buttons for pictures. There you can put in a picture of the person whose number is saved there. So, when the elder presses that button that is who will be called. Picture phones end the need to remember long numbers. And, importantly, they make calling someone in an emergency very easy.
- Try and get a phone which has an automatic disconnect. This is helpful for people with dementia who may forget to hang up the phone correctly. That way, the call is automatically hung up even if the receiver is not placed on the base right.
- Some phones even come with an alarm pendant as an additional accessory. This pendant is linked to the phone and is worn by the user around his or her neck. This is a huge help if the person has a fall or is unable to reach the phone. They can use the pendant to make an emergency call for help.
- For seniors who refuse to wear hearing aids, or simply “forget” to wear them, phones with a visual ringing indicator is also a good choice. These phones use vibrations or bright blinking lights to let the elder know the phone is ringing.
Every senior or elder has different needs based on how well they function. Some may need a phone with all of the options above. Some may only need basic features – especially if they are in the early stages of dementia.
Common Phone Problems Faced by Elderly People with Dementia
So, what are the common problems people with dementia or Alzheimer’s have using telephones? Most, of course, have to do with memory problems and not being able to recall necessary information. Especially in an emergency.
Elders with dementia, or even Alzheimer’s, may sometimes have difficulty recognizing even a very familiar voice. If you are calling your parents or loved ones with dementia, constantly remind them your name and your relationship with them. They may sometimes fail to make that connection on the phone themselves. Frequent reminders are helpful.
Sometimes, your loved ones will start confusing the TV remote control with the cordless phone. They may try to answer the phone by picking up the remote! If this happens, it may be a good idea to pick up an old vintage phone that they may find more easy to use.
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Dementia patients may end up randomly calling family and caregivers. It’s not at all uncommon for some to call 10 – 15 times a day even. They do this either due to anxiety or simply because they have forgotten that they have already talked to you earlier in the day. To keep yourself sane and maintain your own peace of mind, think about getting an answering machine and screen these calls. You can always call back your loved ones later. Or call them right back if they leave an important message.
Summary and Recommendations
Finding the right phone for your loved one with dementia is a huge help in them maintaining independence. This is also very important for them getting help quickly during an emergency. Picture memory phones are a great way to help seniors get over the frustration of not remembering who they are calling. Quick, easy to access emergency buttons reduce confusion during stressful situations. These facts are especially true for people with early signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. (Check out this article about games you can play with seniors with dementia.) These people need reliable phones they can use to contact people and loved ones.
Tell me about your telephone experiences with seniors in the comments below. Do you have a suggestion to make phones easier to use? Did you find a particular product helpful? Let me know below! Also, if you found this article helpful, I’d appreciate a share on your favorite social site!