Photo Memory Phones – A Good Choice For Dementia Patients?

Difficulty using the telephone can be an early sign of mild cognitive impairment or early Dementia.

Today’s telephones are more difficult to use than in days gone by as society is increasingly relying on technology for every day living whether using a coffee pot, a telephone or alarm clock.

Have you noticed these problems when your family member uses the phone?

  • Misdials phone numbers they always knew from memory
  • Misdials phone numbers even when referring to their address book or telephone book
  • Will talk to people if the phone rings, but reluctant to place calls themselves

    Picture Care Photo Memory Phone by Future Call

    Picture Care Photo Memory Phone by Future Call

  • Confused by special features such as voice mail, speed dial buttons, answering machine or Caller ID
  • Tells you they can’t reach the doctor by phone because the office always seems to be closed

What can you do to help prevent isolation, inability to communicate and depression when the person with dementia can’t reliably make a phone or receive a phone call anymore?  How will they stay connected to family and friends?  You will need to choose a different kind of phone that uses photos or pictures to jog the memory.  The mind remembers what a person looks like longer than it can remember a string of numbers or what the symbol of a red phone means.  The photo memory phone is ideal for this need.  You insert a small photograph of the person on their short call list, children, grandchildren, doctors, best friend for example.  It may also be better to use a little younger photograph than the way the family member looks like now, as the mind seems to remember people that way longer.  If you don’t have a photo of the doctor, you could just write the word doctor for example, but avoid using a medical symbol for a doctor.

If the family member with cognitive impairment or dementia  is calling 911 and you don’t want them calling 911 without good reason, you can usually program the photo memory phone’s 911 emergency button to call another number, such as a family member.  If the phone is going to be used in a nursing home or assisted living setting again, you can program the 911 button to call a particular family member or not to call anyone.

Memory photo phones can be superior to a regular phone with numbered buttons  because the number buttons are all the same size and color, causing confusion.  You will want to reduce the number of visual similarities as object perception is a problem for those with cognitive impairment.  When looking to purchase a photo memory phone it is best to find a phone with the least buttons to help prevent confusion, and to only purchase a phone with the least number of features.  It should be extremely simple.  Then once you get the phone enroll the telephone number in the National Do Not Call List to help prevent fraudulent/scam calls as seniors/elderly are more prone to being scammed.

Typically when using a photo memory phone you would just pick up the handset and push the photo of the person you want to call – no numbers to remember, no memory buttons. The simpler the better.


About dsm49

I am the CEO of Modern Senior Products LLC, based in Arizona. I am a graduate of the University of Cincinnati. I spend a lot of time researching health, fitness and technology for my company. We specialize in senior products and gifts for seniors, offering phones for hearing loss, whether due to service in the military, age related or other reasons, also phones for vision and memory loss. We offer S.O.S. Alert Phones, tv assistive listening devices, hearing protection and garden tools for those with arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome. We also offer exercise & rehab equipment. You can find us at

Posted on November 29, 2013, in Alzheimer's Disease, Cognitive and Memory, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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