Welcome to our Buyers’ Guide to the best home telephones for older people. In this article we discuss the various issues that the elderly face when it comes to using the telephone. We also discuss the features that have been designed to assist older people. We look at the best products that are currently available on the market and discuss the key things you should consider when buying a telephone built specifically to address the needs of older people.
Buyers’ Guide to Home Phones for the Elderly
Whether it is to keep in contact with friends and family or the peace of mind in knowing it is there in case of emergency, the home telephone is an essential lifeline for many older people. Whether it’s large buttons or just a little extra volume, Our Buyers’ Guide to Home Phones for the Elderly looks at some of the best, easiest to use home telephones currently on the market. We also look a little more in depth at some of the features that are available and compare the products. Our aim is to help you decide on the perfect product to suit your particular requirements.
In this guide we break it down into three main sections. Phones for the visually impaired, phones for the hearing impaired, and phones for those that may struggle with memory loss. Many of the phones that cater for one of these may also cater for others, so there is some considerable crossover between the products in each section.
Home Phones for the Visually Impaired
Modern phones can be a little bit complicated and unnecessary technology that most of us don’t need or use. Many older users want something nice and simple with big clear buttons. Users who struggle with their eyesight benefit from larger buttons that contrast against the colour of the telephone itself.
Doro have a strong reputation for making easy to use telephone for the elderly. Their Doro PhoneEasy 311 Big Button Telephone and PhoneEasy 312CS are good examples of corded big button landline telephones. Doro also make an easy to use big button cordless phone the PhoneEasy 100W and PhoneEasy 100W Duo.
For the more acutely visually impaired, another very useful feature is what are known as ‘talking keys’. With talking keys, the user receives audio feedback, the phone repeating back to the user which key has been pressed. If you press the #4 key, the talking keypad will ‘speak’ the number four back to you. Telephones that include this feature include the Swissvoice Xtra 2355 and the Swissvoice Xtra 3355 Combo, which includes a corded and a cordless handset. Rather than talking keys, the entry level Swissvoice Xtra 110 has braille dots on the large high contrast buttons.
Home Phones for the Hearing Impaired
For those with hearing loss, everyday activities such as talking on the telephone can be challenging. Having to ask people to speak slower or louder or asking people to repeat themselves can be a source of frustration. Our range of amplified telephones can help you to stay in touch with your loved ones and make talking on the telephone a pleasure once again.
All of the telephones in our Easy to Use Home Phones section are hearing aid compatible and approved by the RNID. This means you can hear the call more clearly through your hearing aid on the hearing loop setting.
Many of the phones made specifically with the hard of hearing in mind feature additional amplification which enable the user to boost the incoming volume. This helps users to hold normal, more natural telephone conversations. The level of additional amplification varies across the range. If we firstly look at corded phones, the Swissvoice Xtra 110 can increase the incoming volume by 30dB. The Amplicomms BigTel 40 has a +40dB boost which is roughly 8 times normal volume. The Swissvoice Xtra 3355 Combo which includes both a corded and cordless handset also increases the incoming volume by a similar amount. For those with the most acute hearing loss, the Amplicomms PowerTel 196 offers a +60dB boost. This is an increase of approximately 32 times louder than a normal telephone.
Extra Loud Ringer
It’s not just the receive volume, those who are hard of hearing sometimes struggle to hear the phone ringing. Most of the products in the Easy to Use Home Phone category have an increased ringer volume. The Swissvoice Xtra 110 can be increased to 85dB and the BigTel and PowerTel range can boost the ringer volume to 90dB. In addition to an increase in the volume level of the call alert, most of the phones also feature a visual indicator. This is usually a bright flashing light that alerts the user to an incoming call.
Cordless Phones for Older People
Many users appreciate the mobility offered by cordless handsets. You can take cordless handsets with you to other rooms, or move about whilst on the phone. The good news is that there are also a range of cordless phones with features that benefit both visually and hearing impaired users. The Doro PhoneEasy 100W that offers a 30dB volume boost and is available as a single or twin has always been a best seller.
The Amplicomms BigTel 1500 range offer a 35dB boost and come as either a single or twin, and give you the option of adding additional handsets (up to 4 handsets in total). It is also available with an integrated answer machine with a generous 30 mins of record time as the BigTel 1580. It is also available to purchase as a BigTel 1582 with twin handsets or BigTel 1583 triple pack.
In our view, the pick of the bunch is the Swissvoice Xtra 2355. This is available as a single or twin, it offers a further maximum volume boost, giving up to 40dB of additional receive volume. Its large black keys contrast against the stylish white handset. Another useful feature is that the answer machine with 30 mins of call time enables you to play the messages back more slowly at a speed and a volume which is comfortable for you. The Xtra 2355 can be expanded up to four handsets, and the base has four photo dialling speed dial buttons.
Phones for Users With Dementia or Memory Loss
Photo dialling enables users to place a picture of their most frequently called numbers onto pre-programmed quick dial buttons. Home telephones with picture button dialling are a great help for those with memory loss, Dementia, or Alzheimer’s. There is no need to have to remember telephone numbers, or even which friend or family member is assigned to which quick dial memory function.
Corded phones with the photo dialling feature include the Swissvoice Xtra 110 and the Amplicomms BigTel 40 Plus. Both of these phones also include a visual ring indicator and a significant volume boost. Users wanting this photo dialling feature aren’t limited to corded phones, the Swissvoice Xtra 2355 range of cordless phones features four photo dialling buttons on the base.
Corded and Cordless Combo
For those who want to combine the security of a corded landline telephone, with the mobility of a cordless handset there are a couple of great options that combine all of the features together in a great bundle. Both the Amplicomms BigTel 1580 Combo and the Swissvoice Xtra 3355 Combo offer photo dialling, increased receive volume and extra loud volume ringer with visual call indicator. Both have an answer phone with a generous 60 mins of record time. They can also be expanded, supporting up to 4 handsets. So you won’t need to rush for the phone, you can have a telephone in virtually every room in the house.
Call blocking is an increasingly popular feature which helps to stop spam, scam and unwanted sales calls. These kind of calls can be particularly frustrating for people with limited mobility who may struggle to get to the phone. Repeated calls from sometimes aggressive sales people can also leave older people feeling somewhat vulnerable.
Firstly, it is important to note that to use the call blocking feature you will need to have a caller line identification service activated. This is available from your telephone network provider. Your network provider is whoever bills you for your telephone service (BT or similar). Generally there are a couple of options to the type of call blocking. Firstly users can blacklist any particular individual numbers to stop them from being able to call. A second option offers an even greater level of security by only allowing telephone numbers stored in your phonebook to be able to call you. Products that have the call blocking feature include the Amplicomms BigTel range and the Swissvoice Xtra 2355 and 3355 Combo.