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 5 Dementia Phones:

  1. 1. DORO PhoneEasy Photo 331PH
  2. 2. DORO 580 Secure 580 with GPS
  3. 3. Classic Amplified Telephone with SOS button
  4. 4. Amplified Photo Telephone
  5. 5. Trimline Retro Phone

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, 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 they’re inputting. TRY the popular corded DORO PhoneEasy Photo 331PH or the Cordless Land Line Big Button Phone

Photos

Some photos 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. This is useful if they’re in the mid stages of dementia.

TRY: Amplified Photo Telephone or DORO PhoneEasy Photo 331PH

Alarm pendants

If you’re worried about the person you care for having a fall – particularly in the mid and later stages of dementia, and not being 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, can provide an extra safety measure.

TRY: Unforgettable’s 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.

TRY: Classic Amplified Telephone with SOS button or if you’d rather just buy a separate amplifier for the phone you have, try the Vox Telephone Amplifier.

Visual ringer

If they refuse to wear a hearing aid (or frequently take it out), some dementia phones also have a visual ring indicator, which is basically a light which starts to flash when the phone is ringing.

TRY: Telephone 90dB Ringer Amplifier and Flashing Light or if you’d rather just buy a phone with amplified sound try the Amplified Photo Telephone.

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.

TRY: The four button DORO Secure 580 with GPS or the Simple Mobile Phone.

Nuisance call blockers

These are a useful addition for someone with dementia, particularly if they’re prone to answering the phone and not understanding or being able to deal with scam callers or people calling to carry out market research or push sales.

They work by only allowing certain numbers to come through to the landline, and blocking any sales calls, market research calls, recorded message calls, and silent calls.

TRY: Fuss Free Phones – Mobiles made simpler

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: Difficulty using phones

A complicated phone that has lots of buttons or options on it could be too overwhelming for someone with dementia. And because the condition can affect your ability to process or understand numbers, even inputting a phone number could become too tricky.

SOLUTION: Try a Simple Landline Phone with automatic disconnect. (So if they forget to hang up, the call will still be terminated).

PROBLEM: Not recognising the voice of the caller

As their memory starts to decline, they may struggle to remember or recognise a familiar voice. This may happen in the mid and later stages of dementia. As much as you try to assure them that it is their daughter on the other end of the line, they may still not believe you. If you’re able to visit them in person, it may be easier to say what you need to say face-to-face. Trying to convince them of who you are (and therefore your right to dole out advice to them) over the phone could prove tricky.

SOLUTION: Try one of the popular photo phones such as DORO PhoneEasy Photo 331PH. Being able to see a picture of the person who’s calling might enhance their ability to recognise the voice.

PROBLEM: Not recognising the phone anymore

If you notice them trying to pick up a remote control to answer a phone call, it could be time to swap their modern phone for a vintage style phone which they may feel more comfortable with. There are lots of retro phones to choose from so find one that’s really simple and brightly coloured.

SOLUTION: Try the Trimline Retro Phone which offers good value for money at £16.99.

PROBLEM: Dialling emergency services

This is more common than you might think, particularly in the earlier stages of dementia. It can happen because they’ve accidentally dialled 999 by pressing the wrong buttons.

SOLUTION: If 999 calls are only happening occasionally, try not to worry too much (or get angry with your loved one). Increasing numbers of emergency services operators are receiving training in dementia, and may be able to recognise that it’s someone with the condition, and know how to handle them. But if they’re dialling 999 quite a lot, try a Simple Landline Phone with Automatic Disconnect which will only allow them to phone the three numbers you have pre-programmed in.

PROBLEM: Calling randomly, often in the middle of the night

This can be a very difficult problem for carers, particularly in the early stages of dementia. They may receive 20 or more calls in one day from their loved one with dementia. The person with dementia may be calling up because they’re stressed or worried about something, or simply because they’ve forgotten that they’ve already spoken to you.

SOLUTION: This is a tough one because tough can’t simply ignore their call – what if they really do need your help? But you also have to think about your own wellbeing because having your sleep interrupted can be emotionally and physically draining. Try getting yourself an answerphone that can screen calls, so if they leave a message, you’ll be able to tell if it’s important or not.


Need more information?

For more information on phone products to help someone with dementia, click here.