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According to Alzheimer’s Disease International, someone in the world develops dementia every three seconds. Accompanying symptoms of dementia include memory loss, difficulty communicating, and frequent confusion and disorientation. These cognitive changes often prove challenging for caregivers, especially if their loved one lives alone without a cell phone to stay connected.
There is a strong correlation between dementia and loneliness. Naturally, this can be eased if your loved one has family or friends nearby. If this is not the case, however, then you’ll want to consider alternative strategies such as a reliable cell phone with safety features or a caregiver.
For older adults who live alone, a cell phone can be an essential part of their care regimen. A reliable cell phone helps alleviate communicative barriers, giving your loved one an easy way to keep in touch with friends, family, and medical professionals.
The devices listed below facilitate communication and are designed for easy operation. Each of these phones features large buttons, bright screens, and powerful speakers. Most importantly, they all feature some form of emergency assistance, ensuring that when trouble arises, your loved one will have no issues contacting help.
Without further ado, here are our picks for the best cell phones for those with dementia.
Designed specifically to assist those with dementia, the RAZ Memory Cell Phone offers a highly simplified and visual mobile experience. At first glance, this phone might look like a typical smartphone; however, you’ll see that everything about it is radically simplified upon turning on this device. The main menu features six contact photos in addition to a dedicated 911 button. Any of these contacts can be reached with just one touch.
The beauty of this phone is in its simplicity and ease of use. There are no other screens, menus, or apps to be found on this phone. While this might seem restrictive to some, it could certainly come in handy for the user who is easily confused by the numerous features of more complex devices.
The large, 6.5-inch display remains on for safety purposes, making it easy for users to get the information they need right away. With this phone, you also won’t have to deal with unnecessary spam calls. If you’d like, you can opt for calls only from the contacts that you’ve listed. What’s more, this phone makes it easy for individuals with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or intellectual disabilities to stay connected with loved ones through its streamlined one-touch dial picture feature. Since the phone has only one primary screen, users can add the pictures and names of up to six main contacts for easy access. There are no numbers to dial or confusing voicemails to go through. For emergencies, there is also a red emergency 911 button on the main screen for added peace of mind.
Cost: $299 when purchased through Consumer Cellular
While it’s technically not a cell phone (really, it’s a tablet), the Consumer Cellular GrandPad does just about anything a cell phone can. On the main menu, you’ll see each of its features: phone, email, photos, camera, news, weather, music, encyclopedia, games, and a flashlight — all of which are easily accessible through its large touchscreen.
This tablet doesn’t require Wi-Fi; it can send and receive data through a 4G LTE connection. In fact, its large 1920×1200 full HD display is perfect for seniors who prefer a larger screen and text. It comes complete with colorful icons and large text to make it easier for seniors experiencing memory or vision loss. If you’re an older adult with dementia, you can use the simplified video chat feature to stay connected with loved ones. With loud speakers and dual speakers, you can easily browse the internet, listen to music, or play popular games like sudoku or other brain games to improve memory.
The GrandPad is user-friendly and great for users who have minimal experience using tablets or cell phones. When I turned on the device, I was able to watch the welcome video, which reviewed all of the important features of the tablet, ranging from photos to contacts. I liked that this tablet lets you create a private circle where a family administrator can be in charge of managing the GrandPad and creating a close circle of family contacts. With the GrandPad, there’s no dialing or typing required; all you have to do is simply touch the screen and click on large fonts and buttons to navigate and connect with loved ones. For instance, when I wanted to make a call, all I had to do was click on the photo of a loved one, and it automatically placed a call.
Easy to use and equipped with an accessible Urgent Response button for emergencies, the Jitterbug Flip2 is the ideal way for those with dementia to keep in touch. Its large, tactile buttons set against a backlit keyboard make it a breeze for anyone to operate, and its voice commands give users the option to make calls and send messages right away.
I appreciated the user-friendly design of this phone, particularly the list-based navigation, which makes it easier to find contacts or send voice commands to make a call. When reading small print, I was able to use the magnifier feature on the phone to enlarge text on my screen. If you’re an older adult with both dementia and hearing loss, this phone comes in handy because it’s hearing aid compatible and comes with a powerful speaker to hear clearly.
With Jitterbug’s health and safety features, the Jitterbug Flip2 can also work as a medical alert device for users with dementia. The company’s dedicated 5Star emergency button connects you with Lively’s monitoring center. If you’re lost, a monitoring agent can provide you with directions, and if there’s a medical issue, they will contact the appropriate assistance.
With the Lively app, caregivers can also keep track of their loved one, receiving notifications about emergency calls, battery level, and location information. The Jitterbug Flip2 can become an indispensable part of one’s care regimen, helping the user to remain active and independent.
Loud and Clear Speaker
Hearing Aid Compatible
Urgent Response Button
Large Buttons and Screen
No Family Plans
Additional Charges for Going Over Minutes or Texts for Some Plans
The Jitterbug Smart4 by Lively is the company’s latest cell phone and is equipped with advanced features, such as an emergency button and video chat. This phone is a great option for older adults with dementia because it helps keep them safe during emergencies and it provides voice typing for faster messaging.
For starters, this particular phone has advanced medical alert features through its Urgent Response button for emergencies. If you get lost and press the button, it will automatically connect you to Lively’s 24/7 response and monitoring center. When you wear the Lively Wearable2 in tandem with the phone, it adds another layer of security and protection with its fall detection capabilities. When a fall is detected, you will be connected to an Urgent Response Agent through the lively app on your Jitterbug Smart4 device — even if you are unable to press the button.
What’s more, this phone is a great option for users with dementia because it has Brain Games, which can help improve memory, focus, and concentration. This app is pre-installed on the phone, so it’s a great tool for seniors with dementia to use on a regular basis.
The Snapfon ezFLIP 4G is a great option for older adults with dementia because of its plethora of safety and senior accessibility features, such as fall detection, intuitive buttons, hearing aid compatibility, and a low-battery warning system.
What’s more, this flip phone is easy to use with its large buttons and an LED flashlight to help users with dementia find misplaced items. The large side controls on this phone also make it easy to quickly adjust the volume when making calls. For seniors with dementia who might forget contacts, this phone has eight speed dial keys to make dialing as easy as possible.
This phone has a large red emergency SOS button that mimics some of the features of medical alert systems, so you can rest assured that you’ll be able to summon help in the event of an accidental fall or other emergency. When this button is pressed, the Snapfon ezFLIP 4G notified five of my preselected contacts through call and text, with an optional siren.
I appreciated that the Snapfon ezFLIP 4G recited the numbers that I dialed on the keypad to ensure that I was dialing the right numbers. What’s more, the numbers can be recited in either English or Spanish, making it even more language accessible for seniors. Overall, this phone boasts all the great safety features that you want to have — everything from an SOS button for emergencies to fall detection to a large keypad to speed dial keys.
How does Snapfon compare to other cell phone brands like Lively? Read my comparison, Snapfon vs. Lively, to learn more.
Incompatible With Verizon
Snapfon Network Plan Required
Data Plan Available Only With the Unlimited Talk and Text Plan
There are many cell phones that are geared toward users with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Some of the most important features to look for in a cell phone include large buttons, a streamlined design, and enhanced safety features such as fall detection or an SOS button that connects you to a 24/7 monitoring center or certified emergency response agent. Whether you’re looking for a more affordable phone option or one that’s specifically designed with voice command or medical alert features, equipping yourself with a reliable cell phone helps you stay connected with loved ones and feel less isolated or lonely.
If you’re on a budget or on looking for alternative cell phone options, read the following articles:
There are plenty of cell phones on the market today that have user-friendly features such as a brighter screen with larger text or voice command. In particular, RAZ Mobility offers their RAZ Memory Cell phone, which is designed specifically for individuals with dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Backlit buttons, an SOS button, and voice command or easy-to-navigate menus are all great features to look for when searching for phones that may be helpful for individuals with dementia.
Amie has been writing about senior care products and services for the last decade. She is particularly passionate about new technologies that help improve the quality of life for seniors and their families. Seeing her parents and grandparents age made Amie ask herself, “Would this be good enough for my loved ones?” In her spare time, Amie enjoys outdoor adventures and spontaneous road trips. Learn more about Amie here