How can dementia phones help people?

Phones can be challenging pieces of equipment for a person with dementia, but they can also be a lifeline. Here’s our pick of the best phones for someone with dementia.

Our Top Dementia Phones:

DORO MemoryPlus 319I

DORO 580 Secure 580 with GPS

Telephone with SOS Calling, Waterproof Pendant

Amplified Photo Telephone 

How to find the right phone for you:

With so many phones to choose from it can be difficult knowing where to start, but if you want to buy a phone for someone with dementia/Alzheimer's, you should start by looking out for the following features:

Big buttons
Large, soft-touch buttons are useful as it makes it easier to see what numbers you're inputting.

2 worth trying:
Amplified Photo Telephone
DORO PhoneEasy Photo 331PH

Photos
Some photo phones provide only a few buttons, each with a space to slide in a photo of the person. This means the person with dementia only has to identify the picture of the person they want to contact and press that, rather than have to remember and input a long number.

2 worth trying:
DORO MemoryPlus 319I PH
Corded and Cordless Telephone Combi with Answering Machine

Alarm pendants
If you’re worried that the person you love may have a fall or an accident, and won't be able to reach the telephone to call for help, then an alarm pendant that can be worn round their neck or wrist, and which is linked up to a phone, could be a solution.

2 worth trying:
Telephone with SOS Calling, Waterproof Pendant
Personal Alarm & GPS Tracker

Hearing aid compatible (HAC)
Dementia phones often have a louder ring and are hearing aid compatible. This means that the telephone speaker in the earpiece not only outputs the sound of the person you are talking to, but it also outputs a magnetic signal representing the sound. Hearing aids have a feature called a telecoil built into them, and this allows the hearing aid to pick up a magnetic signal representing an audio signal instead (or in addition to) just an audio signal. Using a hearing aid with a Hearing Aid Compatible telephone can dramatically improve your ability to hear on the telephone.

2 worth trying:
Amplified Photo Telephone
Wireless Amplified Telephone with Answering Machine

Visual ringer
If the person you care about refuses to wear a hearing aid (or frequently takes it out), some dementia phones also have a visual ring indicator, which is basically a light that starts to flash when the phone is ringing.

2 worth trying:
Telephone 90dB Ringer Amplifier and Flashing Light
Classic Amplified Telephone with SOS button

Simple mobiles
As well as landline telephones for people with dementia, you can also get simple mobile phones. They often have less buttons and a simpler design (much like the landline versions) but can be taken out and about by the person with dementia. They may also be made of harder-wearing materials so that if they drop the phone it won’t crack or break.

Worth trying:
DORO Secure 580 with GPS

Nuisance call blockers
These are a useful addition for someone with dementia who can be particularly vulnerable to scam callers and pushy sales people on the phone. They work by only allowing certain numbers to come through to the landline, and blocking any sales calls, market research calls, recorded message calls or silent calls.

2 worth trying:
CPR Call Blocker Protect +
CPR Call Blocker V5000

Top 5 problems with phones when you have dementia (and how to beat them)

Phones can become confusing and even frightening if you have dementia, here’s some of the most common challenges your loved one might face – and how to overcome them.

PROBLEM: Not recognising the voice of the caller
As dementia progresses, it can become more difficult to remember or recognise a familiar voice. Trying to convince the person you care about that you are their daughter/son, friend when you phone them, can become trickier – and very upsetting.

SOLUTION
Phones which have photographs of loved ones, rather than just numbers, and large caller ID display screens can provide good memory prompt. Take a look at the Corded and Cordless Telephone Combi with Answering Machine.

For more solutions to phone problems take a look at this article.