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.
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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.
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.
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.
Suggested Phones for Seniors with Dementia or Alzheimer’s
Keeping the suggested shopping tips above in mind, here are a few of my recommended phones. These phones have a blend of the features above and are all pretty affordable.
Serene Innovations HD-40P High Definition Amplified Photo Phone
$65.94 in stock
4 used from $ 39.99
The Serene Innovations Photo Phone is a simple photo phone. It has 9 large, easy to set up photo memory buttons that allow one-touch dialing. It also amplifies incoming sound up to 20 times. This makes it ideal for people who are hard of hearing.
- 9 large photo buttons for quick one-touch dialing
- Bright lights on the front and side work flash when there is an incoming call. This is a great feature for people who have trouble hearing.
- Super loud ringer with adjustable ringing volumes
- Hearing aid compatible
Future Call FC-1007 Picture Care Phone with 40dB
$34.11 in stock
4 used from $ 29.00
This easy to program photo phone allows up to 10 photo numbers to be stored for easy, single touch dialing. It is ideal for people who are unable to remember or dial long numbers. Numbers can also be manually dialed too.
- Features bright, flashing red lights to when calls come in
- Programmable with 10 one-touch numbers with pictures, or an additional 10 two-touch numbers
- Has an easy to press 911 emergency key for quick dialing in an emergency situation
- Hearing aid compatible
VTech SN6187 CareLine Expandable Cordless Phone with Answering System and Accessory Portable Pendant, White
The Careline Phone from Vtech is easy to install and really improves the quality of life of its users. The system comes with a cordless handset, answering machine, and a portable safety pendant. The phone has large buttons, big displays and a powerful speakerphone on each device. It connects to multiple extensions and covers the entire house. The pendant, which is carried by the user around the neck, receives calls and even calls out for help in emergencies.
- One button or voice-activated dialing
- Caller ID announces who is calling from a list of 50 programmed numbers. All other calls are sent to the answering machine.
- The pendant can store up to two numbers as emergency contacts
- Optional corded phone with 4 Speed-dial Photo buttons can be added to the system
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!