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December 31, 2013

Age-friendly telephones help seniors stay in touch

NORMAN — Dear Savvy Senior, Can you recommend some good, age-friendly home telephones for elderly seniors? My 82-year-old mother has a difficult time hearing over the phone, and her vision and memory isn’t so great, either.  

— Shopping Son

 

Dear Shopping,

There are dozens of different types and styles of age-friendly phones on the market today that can help seniors with a variety of challenges like hearing loss, low vision, memory problems and limited mobility.

 

How to choose: To help you select a good, age-friendly phone for your mom, you need to take into account her specific needs and wants, because there are lots of options to choose from.

For example, for seniors with hearing loss, there are “amplified telephones,” both corded and cordless, that provide various levels of amplification, usually ranging from 25 decibels (dB) up to around 55 dB, with some offering tone adjustments for high-frequency hearing loss. Most amplified phones are also hearing aid compatible and come with extra loud ringers and bright ring flashers to indicate incoming calls.

Most amplified phones also come with big buttons and a lighted keypad that make them easier to see and easier to operate for seniors with hand tremors or dexterity problems. Some phones even offer “talk back” buttons that speak the number as you dial and announce the number of incoming calls, which is great for people with low vision.

If remembering is a problem, you may want to consider a “photo phone” for your mom that lets you insert pictures of family members or friends over preprogrammed buttons, so she can simply press the picture of the person she wants to call and they’re automatically dialed.

“Emergency alert phones” are another option to consider, especially for elderly seniors who live alone. These phones come with a neck pendant or wristband (SOS button) that your mom would wear, so if she falls down and can’t get up, she can press it and the phone’s preprogrammed emergency numbers will automatically be dialed.

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