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Cell phones
Posted: Monday, June 10, 2019 3:42 PM
Joined: 6/10/2019
Posts: 1

looking for any suggestions for easy to use cell phones for people with dementia. No need for a camera or testing ability, just basically for emergency purposes if needed.
Posted: Monday, June 10, 2019 3:57 PM
Joined: 10/21/2016
Posts: 2558

Non-smart phones (flip or candy-bar style) may work for a while.  Eventually, that will be too difficult also.
Jenn T
Posted: Monday, June 10, 2019 4:23 PM
Joined: 9/4/2018
Posts: 2

Check out "Greatcall". They offer an easy to use flip phone geared toward seniors. You can find the phone for $49.99 on Amazon which is about $25.00 cheaper than if you buy from Greatcall. 

If you buy on Amazon just make sure the retailer is "Greatcall".


Posted: Monday, June 10, 2019 5:02 PM
Joined: 10/24/2018
Posts: 1068

Previous posters have given ideas that I second. My mom couldn't reliable run her easy one before she had symptoms! The concept of "turning on and off js different than answeing or hanging up even if the buttons are the same ones" just did not compute.
Posted: Monday, June 10, 2019 5:14 PM
Joined: 9/5/2017
Posts: 577

My DH has a flip phone.  Since 2017 he no longer knows how to use it.  He's mid Stage 6 Alzheimer's.
Johns baby girl
Posted: Monday, June 10, 2019 5:37 PM
Joined: 2/26/2019
Posts: 56

Agreed on GreatCall.  It also has a tracking device and an emergency button with operators that know how to respond and react to someone with AD.  Large buttons, simple use.  We're nearing the end of his ability but it has been great for 5 years.
Posted: Monday, June 10, 2019 6:29 PM
Joined: 6/10/2019
Posts: 28

We have gone through 4 cell phones including greatcall. DH dropped the last one at 4:30 am activating the emergency button. The police arrived within 5 minutes. DH invited them in and showed them his hobby stuff. They left...and I slept through the whole event. DH is level 4. Save your money if you can.
Posted: Tuesday, June 11, 2019 2:15 PM
Joined: 4/16/2019
Posts: 5

My FIL is a nightmare with phones and every time he can't figure them out, he buys a new one. He had a smartphone with Great Call on it, but honestly, it wasn't any easier for him to follow and he is a little past early stage. I think a flip phone is your best bet - much more straightforward. Good luck!
Posted: Tuesday, June 11, 2019 2:59 PM
Joined: 10/9/2014
Posts: 1091

It is not likely the PWD will be able to learn how to use a new phone, if they are not able to use their existing phone.  Also, if they are struggling with using a phone, it's probably not a good idea for them to be left alone.  PWD may often just freeze and not be able to call in an emergency.  I've known several PWD who fell and had an emergency call button on them, but, they forgot to press it. Later, they had no explanation as to why they didn't press for help.
Posted: Sunday, June 16, 2019 8:29 PM
Joined: 7/17/2017
Posts: 403

I agree with the other posters who advise you to save your money. I put my mom on my cellphone plan and she wasn't able to use it at all the last four years of her life, even though I kept paying because I was too busy doing other stuff to drop the extra line.   Of course you realize that there is no new learning with Alzheimer's.  I would suggest a medical alert system/necklace service such as medical alert, medical guardian, or life station.  

If you really only want your loved one to have a cell phone, go to your local cell phone provider brick-and-mortar store and take Mom or Dad to try out the phones to see for yourself if they can actually use one. Walmart or Target might sell Jitterbug phones in the electronics department (or Costco?).  I would definitely want to make sure Mom or Dad can really use it, though, before buying it and paying for the plan, which Really adds up over the months and years.  

Posted: Sunday, June 16, 2019 8:51 PM
Joined: 9/18/2018
Posts: 44

My mom had a Tracfone until March when I let her contract run out. She didn't understand how to use it, it was never charged and she never had it turned on, so I decided it wasn't worth $100 a year to keep it active. Granted; I moved in to her house in February so her need for an emergency phone is pretty low at the moment.

We've had all sorts of other phone (landline) adventures here though. Mom has two phones in her bedroom - a big button answering machine and a portable. There is a wall phone in the basement and when sister and I moved in I moved the 2nd portable phone from her studio (a building on the edge of the property) to the upstairs.

When we got here, Mom was answering EVERY call that came through and talking to EVERY telemarketer/scammer. In addition, she has a tendency to call her church and lament that there is no one at the house with her - total BS. Or she'll call my home phone while I'm standing right in front of her or have left the house for 5 minutes. My sister and I can only head off so many phone calls, so I set up caller id on her phone account and we turned all the ringers off the phone except for the one near our bedrooms which is on as low as it can go. Then, I ended up moving the answering machine from her bedside to upstairs and stacked jigsaw puzzles over and around it so she doesn't constantly turn it off. She hates lights that are on "for no reason" so every electronic device in the house that has a status light now has a piece of black electrical tape over it so she doesn't unplug the device. I replaced the answering machine in her bedroom with a cheap big button phone which I unplugged from the phone line because even it has a light on it that flashes when calls come through. She has a portable phone sitting right next to the cheap phone so if we need to make a quick call from the downstairs, we can. I check the caller id log every time I pass the phone so I know if someone important has called and can then check the answering machine to see if they left a message. She still makes some calls to her church, but they now know the situation and don't call my sister or I in a panic.

Long way to answer - if the cell phone never gets used due to confusion or no need - don't waste your money. It's pretty likely that in an emergency your LO won't be the one using the cell phone, it'll be helpers who are looking for people to call. Better to hide a phone list on your LO that hopefully won't get lost.

- Holly

Posted: Monday, June 17, 2019 4:14 AM
Joined: 6/17/2019
Posts: 1

I recommend the Jitterbug. They have a basic flip phone. It has has big buttons and works on a simple "yes or no" system. My husband has had his for nearly two years now. He has FTD dementia and learned how to use it easily. He was lost trying the other simple phones. It's designed for seniors. The price is $100, but it often goes on sale at Best Buy or Rite-Aid for 25% or even 50% off. There are plenty of plan choices. Good luck to you.
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