Published: August 29, 2023
Updated: November 21, 2023
This post reviews three popular cell phones for seniors with Dementia or Alzheimer’s. These include:
The RAZ Memory Cell Phone is the only cell phone specifically designed for seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s, although it is also a good choice for some seniors who just want a very simple experience. The cell phone is based on 3 design principles: (1) it is incredibly easy to use for the senior, (2) the phone can be managed from afar through a feature called Remote Manage, and (3) every additional capability offered by the phone is optional.
The RAZ Memory Cell Phone has one primary screen. The screen accommodates up to 6 contacts with an option for up to 30, with contact pictures and names underneath. The pictures help seniors with dementia who cannot always remember the names of their contacts or who may have difficulty reading. There is also a button to call 911; the senior does not have to enter the digits. To make calls, the senior taps and holds the picture of the person they want to call. That’s it! There is no menu system, no apps, no ability to access settings …etc.
The senior’s contacts can video call the senior at any time through the RAZ Care app. Video calls are answered by the senior in exactly the same way as voice calls, making participating in video calls especially easy.
With simplicity for the senior with dementia in mind, the phone’s volume button is disabled and is always set to maximum, the screen does not lock or go to “sleep” (the display is always on), and even the power button can be disabled.
Normally a cell phone’s features are managed in device settings or in individual applications. In the case of the RAZ Memory Cell Phone, to maximize simplicity for the senior with dementia, and to accommodate the fact that many caregivers do not live with their loved ones, the cell phone is managed through a feature called Remote Manage. Remote Manage allows caregivers to manage all aspects of the RAZ Memory Cell Phone from afar, using a mobile application or an online portal.
Remote Manage offers many capabilities and options. These include:
The RAZ Memory Cell Phone is a smartphone with a 6.5-inch display, which provides a lot of real estate for contacts and their pictures. The large display also helps people with vision loss. It has a modern “tear-drop” design with minimal bezels. Nobody can tell from the design that the phone is for seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s, which means that users will not feel self-conscious that they have a “special” phone.
The display itself is very bright. It dims a little when it has not been used for 2 minutes in order to save battery power. Even in this dimmed state, it can be seen easily by seniors. As soon as the user touches the dimmed display, it brightens.
At the top edge of the phone is a headphone jack. On the right edge are the power button and the volume rocker. On the left edge is the SIM card slot.
The price of the RAZ Memory Cell Phone is $349.00 and works on all major wireless providers, including Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Consumer Cellular, Mint Mobile, Affinity Cellular, and other compatible networks. The phone is unlocked. In other words, the user can select his or her wireless provider and plan. Currently, the phone comes with a free SIM card and three (3) free months of service from Affinity Cellular.
The Secure Phone GPS Tracker is designed for children, rather than dementia. The company website describes the phone as a parent’s “All In One Security Solution”. Nevertheless, the phone is sometimes purchased for individuals with dementia or Alzheimer’s as a result of its simplicity.
The Secure Phone GPS Tracker is the shape of a rectangle and is 4.25 inches long and 2.0 inches wide. It has a width of 0.7 inches, so it is quite thick, but can easily fit into a pocket. The cell phone has a touch screen and the display is 3.5 inches. It is a very small smartphone, which is fine for a child, but would be very challenging for a senior who has low vision or even a slight hand tremor.
The left edge of the phone has three buttons, and the right edge of the phone has four buttons. It may be difficult for some seniors with dementia to remember which button does what.
The bottom edge of the phone has the USB-C charging port, which is covered by a little piece of plastic for water resistance.
The volume keys of the Secure Phone GPS Tracker cannot be disabled. Neither can the power button.
One very positive feature of the phone is that it is both water-resistant and dust-resistant with a rating of IP68. This means that it can withstand being submerged in at least 1 meter of water for 30 minutes.
There are four menus that appear on the bottom of the touch screen. These include “Phone”, “Messages”, “Contacts” and “Menu”. If the “Phone” menu is tapped, the senior will see up to 3 family contacts. The contacts do not have pictures. If a family contact is tapped, the call is initiated. Each of the three family contacts can also be called by pressing a corresponding button on the side of the phone. But this is useful only if the senior can remember what button to press for each contact; not likely for
In order to call other contacts, which are called “Phonebook” contacts, the senior must tap the “Contacts” menu and tap on the desired contact. Note that the font size of the listed contacts is very small and may not work for seniors with vision loss or hand tremors.
The senior cannot access a dial pad to contact anyone other than a contact, and the phone cannot dial 911. The phone prevents anyone other than contacts from calling the senior, which will prevent spam calls.
The phone offers GPS tracking and geo-fencing, which may be very useful features for finding a wandering senior with dementia. The phone also offers text messaging, and access to settings through the touchscreen menu system. These additional features add some complexity to the device and may be confusing to individuals with dementia or Alzheimer’s. With respect to the text messaging feature, the keyboard is very small because of the small size of the display.
The Secure Phone GPS Tracker also offers voice monitoring. To activate the feature, the caregiver sends a text message to the phone, and within less than a minute the phone will call back without activating the screen, allowing the caregiver to monitor the senior’s surroundings.
The price of the Secure Phone GPS Tracker on the company website is $250.00. The phone is locked. Wireless plans must be purchased through the Secure Phone website and cost $45/month for unlimited service with T-Mobile coverage and $55/month for unlimited service with AT&T coverage.
The Jitterbug Flip2 is a simple flip phone. It is designed for seniors generally, rather than specifically for people with dementia or Alzheimer’s.
As the name suggests, the Jitterbug Flip2 is a flip phone. When it is shut, it measures 4.3 by 2.2 inches and is .7 inches deep. It comes in red and graphite. On the left edge of the phone, close to the top, is a standard headphone input, and below it, a USB port. On the right side, near the top, is the volume toggle. The power button is on the keypad itself. The battery is removable.
The cell phone comes with a charging dock, which is definitely a bonus for seniors.
There are four ways to place a call: first, by dialing the number with the keypad. Second, by placing calls from contacts. Third, by dialing by voice. The cell phone can be set up so that the senior can dial by voice as soon as they open the flip phone. The senior can initiate a call by speaking someone’s name if they are in the senior’s contacts or by speaking the phone number. Fourth, the cell phone also includes Amazon’s Alexa service. So, the senior could say, “Alexa, call Ben”.
None of these methods include pictures of contacts. Seniors must remember the number or name of the person they wish to call. Further, seniors can call any number without restriction, which will be problematic in the case of some users.
Unlike the RAZ Memory Cell Phone or the KidsConnect KC2, incoming calls cannot be limited to contacts. Thus, if you are concerned about the senior being taken advantage of by predatory telemarketers, the Jitterbug Flip2 is probably not a good option.
Users can dial 911 in the event of an emergency. They must type each digit individually.
The Jitterbug Flip2 is really all about health services. It advertises itself as a “personal safety device.” The Basic health and safety package is priced at $24.99 per month (on top of the cost of your cell phone service), and most notably includes a private emergency dispatch service. There is also a Premium package for $34.99. The Premium package includes access to a board-certified doctor or nurse without an appointment. These services are accessed by pressing the 5Star Button. A subscription to these health services does not prevent a senior with dementia from calling 911.
Watch a video of the Jitterbug in action.
The Jitterbug Flip2 supports other features, including text messaging, a camera, call history, a flashlight, a magnifier, a clock, a calculator, and FM Radio. It also has Amazon Alexa, which allows the senior to ask it for information, such as the weather. It does not support video calls. The availability of all of these features may introduce more complexity than a senior with dementia can handle.
Users can also make various adjustments in settings, such as colors, jingle on/off, ring tones, and Bluetooth.
The Jitterbug Flip2 is a simple basic cell phone. Nevertheless, the senior must be able to navigate the menu system in order to use it effectively. And there may still be too many features for a senior with dementia who needs the simplest of cell phones. Finally, there are no pictures to help the senior remember contacts.
The price of the Jitterbug Flip2 is $99 on its website. People who purchase the Jitterbug Flip2 must use the Lively wireless service. Lively uses Verizon’s network, so coverage is very good. The price of Unlimited talk and text is $19.99 per month.
As discussed above, the various health and safety features of the Jitterbug Flip2 cost additional; prices start at $24.99 per month.
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