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The Best Phones for People With Dementia

What Is A Dementia Phone?

When you’re living with dementia it’s important that you have access to technology that is going to enhance your life, not make the world around you even more confusing, and this is where telephones with simplified features can be helpful.

For instance, the phone may have larger buttons than usual, ‘one-touch’ buttons with space for photos, a loud volume setting, larger displays or a combination of several features. This can be helpful because someone living with dementia may have impaired eyesight or dexterity difficulties that would make smaller buttons impossible to press, or a standard display too tiny to see.

How Are Dementia Phones Easier to Use?

Whether it’s the large push buttons, adjustable text size, or the fact that it doesn’t have clashing colours and thousands of apps the way a smartphone does, the simplicity of a phone can make all the difference to someone’s ability to communicate and stay connected when they’re living with dementia.

There are many models of both mobile and fixed line phones on the market and it’s important to ensure that whatever model you choose is going to do exactly what you want it for. The Alzheimer’s Society has several different phones featured in its online shop, all with features that have been designed to make life and communication easier, and choosing something that is less complex and easier to pick up will be a real benefit to daily life.

Deciding on The Right Phone For You

It’s important to think about the reasons you have a phone and what you want it to be able to do for you. For instance, if you enjoy text-messaging and want to be able to do that then you’ll need a phone with mobile connectivity, such as the Emporia ‘Classic’ (see below). However, if it’s simply to call people from your home, especially if you only really call two or three of the same number, then a phone with a few ‘speed dial’ functions would probably suit you well. We take a look at the Emporia ‘big button’ fixed line model below, as well as consider other brands such as the Geemarc ‘Amplidect’.

Our Top Picks

Mobile phone

The Alzheimer’s Society recently did a product test with several of its service users who are living with dementia, trying out different mobile and fixed line phones to see what they recommended.  One such model is the Emporia ‘Classic’, with its feature-packed yet simple design. It has extra-large, illuminated buttons, 3 speed dial keys, emergency call function, a large screen with adjustable text size, and lots more to recommend it.

One of the review panel said ‘It’s excellent, I like it very much… I certainly would recommend it to others.’ Demonstrating how simplicity in technology can make all the difference to someone living with dementia he continued, ‘I was given an iPhone a while ago and, I must say, I couldn’t get on with it. I’m going back to an old-style phone.’ Emporia also have another, slightly cheaper mobile on the website that comes with a charging bar so you’ll always know where it is, appropriately called the ‘Simplicity’.

Fixed line phone

The Emporia ‘big button’ fixed line phone also got rave reviews from the panel, with one reviewer saying, ‘We used one of the picture buttons and set up a number on it…it was extremely fast redialling the number.’ Picture buttons are a feature that recur in almost all dementia phones, such as the Geemarc ‘Amplidect’ models that are also available in the online shop, as they can quickly dial through to the programmed number with just one push of the button.

The photo is also useful for people whose dementia hasn’t reached too late a stage as they’ll be able to associate the photo with the person they want to call. Other features on the ‘big button’ phone include an SOS key, redial for last dialled number, large illuminated LCD display with adjustable contrast, 3 different ringer volumes and power outage backup, which is very reassuring for loved ones and the person themselves. It definitely got a thumbs-up from the panel, as another reviewer felt that ‘it was easy to make and receive calls, certainly,’ however they did also think the handset cord could be longer, as you have to get close to the phone when picking up; ‘within a foot or a foot and a half, otherwise you pull it off the table!’

How We Can Help with Other Aspects of Dementia

When you’re living with dementia and the time comes that you or your loved ones need to consider professional care, it is so beneficial to your physical and emotional wellbeing to remain in the home you love. This is because you’ll be around familiar people, pets and possessions that mean the world to you, helping to reduce confusion and associated anxiety that can come from being in unknown surroundings.

Receiving dementia care at home from Helping Hands means you’ll be in the care of a company who has been supporting people living with dementia to remain safe and cared for at home since 1989. Our carers are trained to understand what dementia is and how it can affect a person’s day-to-day life, and because our service is fully manged by the Care Quality Commission and Care Inspectorate Wales you’ll never have to worry that we’ll deliver anything less than we promise. Contact us today to discover how we could be caring for you or your loved ones, on either a visiting or live-in basis.

Page reviewed by Carole Kerton-Church, Regional Clinical Lead on October 8, 2021