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3 Best Phones for Seniors with Dementia or Alzheimer’s in 2024



Published: May 13, 2024

Updated: May 13, 2024

This post reviews three popular cell phones for seniors with Dementia or Alzheimer’s. These include: 

RAZ Memory Cell Phone – the Best Phone for Dementia or Alzheimer’s in 2024

 

The RAZ Memory Cell Phone is the only cell phone specifically designed for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, or mild cognitive impairment.  It is also a good choice for seniors who are fine cognitively, but who are tech-averse and want a simple experience.  The cell phone is based on 3 design principles: (1) it is 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.  In other words, the phone can be customized by the caregiver to suit the needs of the senior. 

RAZ Mobility is the only company and phone listed that participates in the AARP’s AgeTech Collaborative.  The cell phone won the Collaborative’s 2022 Connect and Thrive pitch competition.      

The Focus is Simplicity for the Senior with Cognitive Decline

The RAZ Memory Cell Phone has one primary screen.  The screen accommodates up to 6 contacts with an option for up to 50, 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.

 

 

 

Remote Manage to Help the Caregiver

Normally a cell phone’s features are managed in device settings or 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.  The mobile application is called the RAZ Care app.   

Remote Manage, available through the RAZ Care app, offers many capabilities and options. These include:

  • Contact management – Create and edit your senior’s contacts remotely.
  • Limit incoming calls to those from contacts – If telemarketing and scam calls are a concern, you can block incoming calls from anyone other than contacts.
  • Video calls – Contacts can place video calls to the senior through the RAZ Care app. This feature is coming soon.
  • Contact allow list – Create a list of people (other than contacts) who can call the senior even if incoming calls are limited to contacts.
  • Quiet hours – Set up windows of time during which your senior with dementia cannot place calls to selected contacts, for example, during the night.
  • Receive text message alert when the battery is low – The care partner will receive a text message when the RAZ Memory Cell Phone’s battery decreases to a specified level.
  • Reminders – Remind your senior about events or things they should do. A sticky note will appear on the RAZ Memory Cell Phone, and there is an option for an audio message, as well.  
  • Status information – Use the app to check the remaining battery power, the signal strength, track the location of the phone, whether the RAZ Memory Cell Phone is currently being charged, and whether the phone is powered on or off.   
  • Auto answer – The RAZ Memory Cell Phone will automatically answer phone calls. The senior does not have to press “Answer”. 
  • Calls to the speaker – Place all calls automatically on the speaker by selecting this option in the online portal or app.
  • Disable power button – Disable the power button, ensuring that the phone is always on and that the senior does not inadvertently turn off the phone and struggle to turn it back on.
  • RAZ Emergency Service The RAZ Memory Cell Phone includes a dedicated 9-1-1 button. The senior simply presses the button to contact emergency services.  If the senior has the habit of repetitively calling 9-1-1, which is not uncommon for seniors with more advanced dementia or Alzheimer’s, the care partner can subscribe to the RAZ Emergency Service for $99.99 per year.  Calls are routed to a private dispatch service and the dispatch agents know that the caller suffers from memory loss.  Also, care partners are notified of emergency calls by text message and can “cancel” the emergency. 
  • Receive a text message when the senior calls 911 – Up to 3 people will receive a text message notifying them that their senior has called 911.
  • Announce that battery is charging – The phone will speak “phone charging” to inform the senior that they are successfully charging their phone.
  • Remind senior to charge – The senior will receive a reminder to charge when the battery is low.
  • Keypad – An option for a keypad symbol to appear at the bottom of the display, providing access to a high-contrast keypad.
  • Toll-free calls – An option for a keypad to appear automatically when the user dials a toll-free number to allow the senior to navigate the automated phone system. 
  • Voicemail – The display can include a voicemail button to provide easy access to voicemail.  
  • Hear the name of the caller – During an incoming call, the phone will announce the name of the caller.
  • Special mode for low vision or tremors – Make the contacts, answer button, and hang-up button, much larger for seniors with low vision or hand tremors, such as from Parkinson’s disease. 
  • Missed calls – Option for the senior to be notified of their missed calls.  
  • Day of the week, date, and month – Option to include the day of the week, the date, or the month in the status bar of the RAZ Memory Cell Phone.

The RAZ Care app also includes a Dementia Care Advisor. Ask a question about dementia, and the Advisor will provide a trusted answer. For example, ask how you can help your senior sleep better, or reduce their level of agitation. The Dementia Care Advisor can be a valuable resource that helps people navigate their caregiving journey. It is a unique large language model-based conversational AI tool, and is trained on trusted sources of clinical data, resulting in reliable answers. The Dementia Care Advisor can be used within the RAZ Care app as frequently as desired at no additional cost.   

 

Physical Description

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.

Price and Wireless Service

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, which uses the Verizon network.        

Secure Phone GPS Tracker

KidsConnect KC2 phone for children

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 because of its simplicity.   

Physical Description

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. Nevertheless, can fit into a pocket easily.  The cell phone has a touch screen and the display is 3.5 inches.  It is small, which is fine for a child, but would be very challenging for a senior with low vision or even a slight hand tremor.

The left edge has three buttons, and the right edge has four buttons.  It may be difficult for 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 positive feature of the phone is that it is water-resistant and dust-resistant with a rating of IP68: it can withstand being submerged in at least 1 meter of water for 30 minutes.   

Phone Calls

Four menus 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 someone with dementia. 

To call other contacts, 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 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 prevents spam calls.

Other Features

The phone offers GPS tracking and geo-fencing, which can help find a wandering senior with dementia.  The phone also provides 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 some individuals with dementia or Alzheimer’s.  Certainly, some people with dementia text message, but the small keyboard will make text messaging difficult for many seniors.  Moreover, the keyboard is the standard Android keyboard, which has symbols and features that are too advanced for many with dementia.      

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.  This is a helpful feature if there is concern that the senior is being abused.   

Price and Wireless Service

The price of the Secure Phone GPS Tracker on the company website is $199.00.  The phone is locked.  Wireless plans must be purchased through the Secure Phone website.  It costs $45/month for unlimited service with T-Mobile coverage and $55/month for unlimited service with AT&T coverage.         

Jitterbug Flip2

Display and keypad of Jitterbug Flip2

 

The Jitterbug Flip2 is a simple flip phone.  It is designed for seniors generally, rather than specifically for people with dementia or Alzheimer’s. 

Physical Description

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.      

Making Calls 

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.

Other Features 

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. 

Complexity – it is Simple, but not for Seniors with Dementia

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.

Price and Wireless Service

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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