A phone can be a lifeline for someone with dementia, but only if it’s one they can use confidently. Here’s three common problems phones can cause – and three best-selling dementia phones which offer great value solutions.
Difficulty using the phone
A complicated phone with lots of small buttons and options can quickly become too overwhelming for someone with dementia. Since the condition can also affect your ability to process or understand numbers, even tapping in a phone number can become too fiddly . ‘Mum used to love chatting on the phone but then she suddenly stopped calling,’ recalls Kate. ‘It took a while for me to realise that she just couldn’t operate it anymore.’
SOLUTION: Swap to the simplest phone you can find. We love the best-selling Amplified Photo Telephone. It has large, soft number buttons to make dialling really easy even if you have sight problems. It also has eight photo memory buttons which can be used to speed dial loved ones (they simply press the button with your photo on it). This phone is also hearing aid compatible and at only £27.42 we think it offers really good value for money.
Difficulty recognising the phone
As dementia progresses, modern technology can become increasingly alien and confusing. For example, a modern handset look quite similar to TV remote control, so it’s hardly surprising the person you care about might start getting the two mixed up.
SOLUTION: Go back in time. There are lots of retro style phones available to buy now which your loved one is probably much more comfortable using. We think Trimline Retro Phone offers great value for money at £16.66 – and definitely wouldn’t get mistaken for a remote control.
Dialling emergency services
This is far more common than you might think. Sometimes people with dementia dial 999 by mistake, or because it’s the only number they remember. But it can also happen regularly especially if they’re feeling distressed. ‘When we first moved mum into sheltered accommodation she was really stressed and kept phoning the police saying she was being held against her will,’ says Kate.
SOLUTION: Fortunately, many emergency service operators are now given dementia training and are able to recognise someone with the condition. But if 999 calls are happening more frequently, you could consider buying a phone which will only allow them to call the pre-set numbers you have installed. For example, the Doro MemoryPlus 3191PH has only four picture buttons (no numbers) with phone numbers preset. They simply press the photo of the person they want to speak to. Of course, if they are calling because of a genuine emergency the onus will then be on you to call the emergency services on their behalf). This phone is also hearing aid compatible and reasonably priced at £33.28.
Calling randomly, often in the middle of the night
This can be a very difficult, particularly in the early stages of dementia when families often report receiving 20 or more calls during the day and night from loved ones who are feeling stressed, worried or have simply forgotten that they’ve already spoken to you.
SOLUTION: This is a tough one because you 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.
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