In the UK today approximately 3.8 million elderly people live alone, and 2 million of those are aged 75 years and over. For this proportion of the population communication with the outside world is so important – not just to keep contact with family, loved ones and friends, but also for the security of knowing that in an emergency help can be sought quickly. Plus, of course, cost can be an important issue.
So if you’re an elderly person looking for the right phone system – or if you’re buying a phone on behalf of an elderly friend or relative – it’s important to find the right system. There are a number of options on the market that can equip elderly people with benefits including cost savings, convenient access and emergency support when it’s needed. Here’s our round-up of what to consider.
Systems that provide elderly people with easy phone access
Especially for elderly people living alone in a large home it’s important to have quick, on-hand access to a phone wherever you happen to be. But landline calls can be very expensive these days. One solution is the liGo Bluewave hub. For a modest initial outlay this hub can be quickly and easily installed in the home. The user can then pair their mobile phone with the hub, so that incoming and outgoing mobile calls are diverted through a standard handset.
This has several advantages. It means that elderly people can access mobile calls even if their mobile doesn’t happen to be to hand – or it’s somewhere else in the house charging. Because mobile tariffs typically offer cheap or free calls this means that the user can enjoy the convenience of making and receiving calls anywhere in their home, but avoid expensive landline call charges that might push their phone bill up.
It also means that if the home has mobile reception dead spots that might interfere with an emergency call these can be bypassed by placing the hub in an optimum reception position – giving reassurance that contact can be made with the outside world under any circumstances.
Skype phones that can connect elderly people to relatives across the world
Statistics from the ONS show that almost 350,000 people emigrate from the UK every year. But often those in search of a new life will leave behind elderly people who dearly want to be able to keep in touch.
A great solution lies in the new generation of Skype Phones that are hitting the market nowadays. For elderly people the benefit is the ability to access very cheap rate Skype phone calls to overseas destinations – but without needing to own a PC. New Skype phones offer the ability to set up and run Skype directly from the handset, giving all the convenience of just picking up the phone plus the cost and technology benefits that Skype offers. Take a look at our recent review of the best Skype phones to get some ideas.
Phones with emergency response facilities
Especially for elderly people who are infirm or living on their own it’s a good idea to look into an emergency response phone. Phones such as the Siemens Gigaset E500A range offer an SOS function on the base station. Some systems feature a remote personal alarm that can be carried around by the user as they go about their day. If they encounter a difficulty, they simply press the alarm and the phone will automatically call the pre-programmed emergency numbers of the user’s choice, alerting a trusted person to the fact that the user might be in difficulties.
Look out as well for phones that are hearing aid compatible and feature large scale buttons and easily visible displays, making them easy to use for elderly people who may be living with impaired vision or hearing loss. Crucially, it’s important to remember that each user’s situation will be different. So if you’re looking for phones that are suitable for elderly people discuss the options carefully with the person in question, do your research thoroughly and you’re bound to find a phone system that suits their personal circumstances exactly.
Elderly people and carers can find more general support and advice at www.nidirect.gov.uk.