The ability to quickly and easily contact others is essential in the 21st century. Telecommunication is making huge leaps forward, which can often leave seniors baffled. Many of them still cling to their old corded phone, claiming that it works perfectly fine for them. Nostalgia is good and all, but the elderly may well be oblivious to the benefits that advanced home phones can have.
Switching to a cordless model or purchasing an amplified phone not only makes their life more convenient, but also provides a quicker means of calling for help during an emergency. For this reason, they should at least consider the newest home phone models.
Cordless or portable phones operate on a similar basis as the wired ones, even though the handset is completely free from the base station – which also serves as the charging station. Cordless phones were heavily favored in homes before smartphones became popular, since they allow the user to stray away from the phoneline socket instead of constantly sitting next to the base station.
Despite the fact that cordless models offer more freedom, it’s important to note that corded phones produce clearer audio. But on the plus side, recent advancements in technology has enabled cordless phones to integrate cellphones and support Bluetooth headsets. Being able to wear a hands-free headset is useful for seniors, whose hands might become cramped after holding the phone for long periods of time.
Amplified Phones for Hearing Impaired
Increasing the volume isn’t the only strength of an amplified phone’s arsenal, either. Such devices also boast larger buttons and numbers for better visibility, instant emergency calling, bigger display screens and a speed dial function with the ability to alter buttons to include a loved one’s photo. Amplified phones come in both wired and cordless flavors.
In case the hearing-impaired person lives in a large home, they should consider installing standalone amplifiers in multiple rooms. They connect to the landline just like the phone, and a loud noise is emitted every time there is a call. They work best when stationed in regularly occupied rooms, such as the bedroom or the kitchen.
Recommended Home Phones for Elderly
Choosing the most fitting phone for seniors is not easy, and so consider some of the following devices that may suit their needs.
Future-Call Picture Care Phone
In addition, the Care Phone has very large buttons to make custom dialing easy, and it has an adjustable volume of up to 40 decibels. Most of the features are automated, so the owner can easily toggle between low and high ringtone volumes. It even has a specific button for speed dialing 911, although it can be reprogrammed to add one extra relative to the roster. The device doesn’t come with an answering machine, but it can be hooked up with one.
AT&T CL4940 Corded Standard Phone with Answering System
Seniors will surely like the fact that the phone is compatible with hearing aids. The speakers provide crystal clear audio, and the receiver and ringer volume are separately adjustable. The base station boasts a speakerphone mode, and has a built-in digital answering machine as well.
RCA 1123-1WTGA Amplified Big Button Corded Phone
It’s good to know that this is an amplified phone, which is backed up by the fact that the volume level can be adjusted on both the handset and on the base station alike. The audio range is capable of reaching 20 decibels, which is good enough for the room it’s stationed in but seniors with hearing impairments might struggle to notice it from the far end of the building.
Clarity Amplified Corded Photo Telephone
The phone is capable of amplifying the audio up to 20 decibels, but it caters to seniors in other ways too. For example, the red light by the buttons lights up, indicating that there is an incoming call. The buttons are also extra-large to avoid accidental misdials.
Clarity E814CC Amplified Corded/Cordless Combo with Answering Machine
Both models are amplified phones and have the ability to toggle the audio level. There are four settings for the sound, while the maximum volume output is 40 decibels – certainly loud enough to catch the attention of a hard of hearing senior. Since the package includes two phones, it’s highly advised to keep the corded version in the living room next to a comfy chair, while placing the cordless one in the hallway or the kitchen.
Smartphone Instead of a Home Phone
Family members and caregivers may reason that a smartphone is the superior option for seniors. They are small, lightweight and more open in terms of possibilities and feature set. It’s far easier to adjust the audio level on a smartphone, not to mention the varied options for vibration, lights and ringtones to help get their attention. The app stores are also chock-full of useful programs. Medical alert apps and ringtone amplifiers are just the beginning, since smartphones are a constant source of games, news and reading material.
On the downside, smartphones require a certain level of tech know-how. Seniors often lose their patience while fiddling with the touchscreen or accidentally do something they didn’t intend to, such as delete their contacts while navigating through the maze of options. In the end, they could well stop using the ‘fancy doodad’ and return to the tried and tested landline phone.
Companies, like GreatCall, aim for the middle ground by providing a smartphone with an extra-large interface for increased readability, and comes with a handful of pre-installed apps that are truly useful for any elderly user.
Regardless of whether a senior opts for a wired landline phone, a cordless amplified phone or the latest smartphone, this increased ease of communication won’t necessarily help them in a crisis. Just because someone owns the necessary technology to quickly alert the emergency services (such as via speed dialing, for instance), this won’t necessarily mean that the older adult can maintain the composure to explain the situation to an operator in a calm and detailed manner. There are also cases when the elderly resident might lose consciousness or be unable to reach the phone.
A medical alert system addresses all of these problems. The base station is compatible with landlines and the system dials the monitoring center’s toll-free number the moment the help button is pressed. Medical alert hubs are even fitted with enhanced two-way communication that can reach the far-end of a room. The company’s care agent has the senior’s medical history on file, and will notify the paramedics in a timely manner.
It’s important to mention that most medical alert companies also offer fall detection pendants, which are fine-tuned devices to pick up the signs of a sudden collapse. If this happens, the pendant sends a help signal without manual input, ensuring that help arrives to the unconscious or incapacitated user.