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Actually, yes, depending on the stage of their illness, seniors struggling with memory loss really can benefit from a cell phone — for a number of reasons. Practically speaking, having a mobile phone handy gives older folks with difficulties remembering more independence. With the right phone, they can call for help if there’s an emergency or they have a foggy moment. They can also use GPS navigation features to find their way home if they wander.
Most importantly, cell phones make it easier for loved ones to stay in touch. This is probably the best reason for older adults with memory loss to have a phone. Studies have shown that just 10 minutes of social contact a day can improve their quality of life substantially.1
Additionally, with GPS tracking, family members and caregivers can locate loved ones quickly if they go missing or get lost. Many cell phones for seniors also come with medical alert or emergency response features — for good reason. Approximately 70 percent of seniors with dementia experience a fall every year,2 so monitoring features like fall detection, activity tracking, and an SOS button can be literal lifesavers.
While we love the Alcatel GO FLIP 3 for many reasons, it is missing one important feature that can help older adults experiencing symptoms of dementia: It doesn’t come with a dedicated medical alert button or app.
But that shouldn’t stop you from trying the FLIP 3. Plenty of mobile apps out there are compatible with the FLIP 3. Just download one you like and you’re good to go. Plus, the Alcatel GO FLIP 3 is equipped with other features that can help older folks struggling with memory loss, like Google Assistant for emergency calls, voice recognition to help out with daily phone tasks, and speed dialing for easy access to important numbers.
The GO FLIP 3 has a lot going for it. It’s very easy to use, but it doesn’t skimp on the smartphone features seniors need to make their lives easier and safer. Those smartphone features are especially useful for loved ones coping with a serious condition like dementia, because they let them monitor their medication schedules, location, and calendar events. That means more independence.
Beyond smartphone features, staying social via video chat, email, and texts to family and friends is absolutely vital for mental health. The GO FLIP 3, which comes with internet access, allows seniors with dementia to stay connected.
FYI: If you’re taking your first steps in the cell phone market, or you’re shopping for a loved one or someone in your care, our 2022 seniors cell phone buyer’s guide is a jargon-free breakdown of the best phones and plans for seniors, and the features to look out for.
The only other thing we’d like to see in the future from Alcatel is a medical alert feature. But that isn’t a dealbreaker. For the time being, you can just download a third-party medical alert app and install it on your GO FLIP 3, and you’ll be fine. To learn more about T-Mobile’s 55+ phone plans that pair with the GO FLIP 3, visit our T-Mobile review.
To use Jitterbug’s Urgent Response service, you need to subscribe to a Lively Health & Safety Package. Those plans aren’t free; they start at $19.99 per month.
Unlike other smartphones, the Jitterbug Smart3 doesn’t allow you to download or customize apps, which may be a drawback for those looking for more apps and uses for their devices. On the plus side, a basic apps tray keeps things simple. Although you might never have thought about it this way, it also limits screen time for older adults, who already spend 12 percent more time plugged into their devices than their kids do.3
The Jitterbug Smart3 is an excellent phone for older adults beginning their smartphone journey. The Smart3’s simplicity allows for ease of use but still offers plenty of great features for staying connected and protected. This is a win-win for seniors with dementia. In terms of budget, the Jitterbug Smart3 runs on Lively’s network, which offers a wide variety of mix-and-match plan options for talk, text, and data.
As we’ve mentioned, Lively’s Urgent Response button is what makes it one of the best cell phones for seniors with health problems. Understandably, this service costs extra, so consider that when budgeting for your cell phone plan. Unlike the Jitterbug Smart3, the Flip2 doesn’t connect to the internet, so it’s best for seniors who want to stick to the basics.
The Jitterbug Flip2 is a great choice for seniors any way you cut it. It is easy to handle and use, has first-rate safety monitoring and emergency response built in, and comes with a voice-activated assistant. Plus, Lively gives seniors with serious health conditions access to board-certified nurses and doctors 24/7. You can even fill prescriptions over the phone! The only downside to the Jitterbug Flip2? There’s no internet, so this isn’t the right phone for tech-savvy seniors with or without dementia.
Did You Know: Flip phones aren’t just a trip down memory lane. They’re popular with a lot of seniors because they usually have wider screens (which means more room for letters) and big, tactile keys. Also, because the screen on a flip phone is never exposed when you close it, it’s harder to crack that glass.
The GrandPad connects directly to the internet via Consumer Cellular’s 4G LTE network. You can’t connect via Wi-Fi. This means you can only use your GrandPad where there’s a Consumer Cellular signal.
One feature we really wish the GrandPad had is hearing aid compatibility. Many seniors with hearing loss depend on hearing aids to use and enjoy mobile devices. However, this doesn’t mean you should write the GrandPad off. This big boy comes with a powerful internal speaker and has a headphone jack that works with most headphones.
If you can make do without pairing your hearing aid with your mobile device, then the GrandPad makes a good companion for seniors with memory loss. For one, with most tablets, you can’t call and text. With the GrandPad, it’s easy. Staying connected is an important ingredient of mental health, but it can be a lifesaver for seniors coping with dementia, so this is a big plus.
Quick tip: Check out our 2022 Consumer Cellular review to learn more about our hands-on experience with this carrier.
With its family content hub, the GrandPad serves simultaneously as a barrier against online senior fraud like spam and robocalling, and a place everyone in the family can share content safely. Couple that with its extra-large screen, easy-to-grip frame, and jump-out apps, and the GrandPad is a terrific option for seniors with difficulties reading or lifting heavy devices.
The Sonim XP3’s $189.99 price tag is definitely on the high side for many budget-conscious older adults. But that extra cost could make sense, especially if you’re a serial dropper or your phones have ever ended up in “wet environments” by accident.
If that’s you, a super-resilient tank of a phone might well be worth the extra expenses you’re likely to pay replacing a more fragile one. Also worth keeping in mind: To offset the sticker shock, the Sonim comes with an attractive three-year warranty, so even if you accomplish what the military couldn’t, you’re covered in the highly unlikely event that you manage to break your new XP3.
A feature-packed Alcatel GO FLIP 3 is about half the price of a Sonim XP3. Ordinarily, that would be reason enough to go with our favorite T-Mobile phone for seniors. But we’re not talking about an ordinary phone; we’re talking about a Sonim XP3 flip phone, the Humvee of senior cell phones.
The Sonim XP3 is beyond resilient. It offers military-grade durability and protection against dust, weather, and water, which makes it one of the best phones on the market for older folks who are liable to drop phones or leave them in places where they can get damaged.
The Sonim XP3 gives seniors all the features they need to keep connected with loved ones. You can text, call, and surf the internet with outstanding reception and voice quality. So, durable, yes. But a great-all-around phone too.
Senior tip: Breaking your phone or dropping it in water isn’t the only way to say goodbye to a perfectly good mobile device. Cell phones are easy to lose too, whatever your age. If you tend to forget your phone when you’re out and about, make sure you turn on Find My Device. For Android devices, click Apps > Settings > Google (Google Services) > Location > Security. For Apple devices, go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Privacy tab > Enable Location Services.
While we love the Snapfon ez4G for many reasons, we’d like it to have a bigger screen. Text might be difficult to read for seniors with impaired vision. We also weren’t thrilled to see Snapfon’s monitoring service billed separately. Emergency monitoring might not be negotiable for older folks suffering from dementia, and that extra fee could be out of budget. That said, Snapfon’s $19.99 monthly fee is par for the course.
While we’d definitely like a larger screen, the Snapfon ez4G does give older folks the best of both worlds: the practicality (of a brick) and pretty great connectivity. It also has the SOS emergency and GPS location features that seniors struggling with memory loss shouldn’t live without, even if emergency monitoring is a billable add-on. We haven’t even mentioned that the Snapfon ez4G actually has a decent camera with enough storage for plenty of pics.
Senior saving tip: Discounted phone plans aren’t the only way for budget-conscious seniors to save. You can economize on retail, restaurants, and even travel in your golden years. If you’re tired of combing the internet for special seniors deals, head on over to our seniors discounts guide, where we’ve collected the best for you.
Older adults who don’t mind the smaller screen can surf the web, connect with friends, and receive and send emails. Unlike the Consumer Cellular GrandPad, where you need to connect with a cellular signal, the Snapfon is Wi-Fi ready. So, if seniors are out and about, and connecting in person, they can still access the internet.
The senior population is growing, and it’s tech savvy and connected. That includes seniors living with and managing life-changing illnesses like dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Because dementia affects cognitive abilities, staying connected poses its own challenges for older folks who live with the disease. That’s why the right cell phone is a must, and why we’ve carefully researched and curated this list.
The cell phones that made the cut met specific criteria. They had to be easy to handle and use, with dedicated medical and emergency alert features (or compatibility), long battery lives, and (where possible) built-in internet access. Price points also had to make sense for budget-conscious seniors. Every phone on our list also had to meet the following requirements:
Yes, seniors with dementia can learn how to use a cell phone with some practice. But the device has to be easy to use, and caregivers should make sure privacy settings are in place to protect against common forms of senior fraud, like spam emails, fake websites, and robocalls.
Based on our research, a quality phone with the right features to keep seniors struggling with memory loss safe ranges from $50 to $150.
While many of these phones are available through cellular carriers, we purposely chose models without contracts for optimal flexibility.
Absolutely. Even if they’ve reached a stage where they can’t surf by themselves, caregivers and loved ones can help them access emails, photos, and videos from family members.
Yes, most of the carriers that offer the phones on our list have discounted rates specifically for seniors. T-Mobile, for example, has a senior-specific unlimited plan that starts at $40 per month for one line. Other plans provide the option to mix and match talk, text, and data, depending on your needs.
For over five years, Taylor has been writing, editing, and researching products and services covering topics such as senior care and technology, Internet and the digital divide, TV, and entertainment, and education. Her research on media consumption and consumer behavior has been… Learn More About Taylor Shuman
Science Direct. (2018). Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Translational Research & Clinical Interventions.
AARP. (2020). Worried About Increased Screen Time? Think About Its Quality.