Home phones: People with dementia try out some landline phones

People affected by dementia in Kent look at specially designed landline phones to see if they could be easier to use.

Dementia Café Tonbridge is a relaxed, welcoming place for local people affected by the condition to come together every couple of weeks. The spring weather was changeable when we visited, but it was clear that the group offers a reliable source of support and friendship. 

Between catching up over tea and biscuits and an informative talk about financial planning, people at the café told us what they thought of specially designed landline phones from our online shop.

Photo buttons 

We showed the group three phones.

  1. Big button photo telephone

    The Big button photo telephone has eight photo buttons, and three smaller buttons without pictures that you can also programme to call numbers with just one touch.
  2. Amplidect Combi phone

    The Amplidect Combi phone has three photo buttons on its base unit plus a fourth one-touch button without a picture. You can store up to 50 numbers in its phonebook and see the number of the person calling on its large LCD screen. It comes with a handset with its own LCD screen and number buttons, along with a charging stand. The handset has up to four hours’ talk time before the batteries run out and you can link up to four additional handsets, which would need to be bought separately.
  3. Amplidect Combi Photo phone

    The handset of the Amplidect Combi Photo phone has four photo buttons that will dial the numbers you’ve programmed into the one-touch buttons on its base unit.

All three have large number keys and picture buttons that you can set to call your most important contacts with one touch. You can add photos to the picture buttons, so you don’t have to look up names or remember a sequence of buttons to press. The phones are also all compatible with hearing aids.

You can mount the Big button photo telephone and the base units of the Amplidect Combi phones onto a wall if preferred. 

Big button photo telephone

Big button photo telephone


Although people generally liked the appearance of the phones, Trevor and Janet thought the Big button photo telephone looked a bit bulky, whereas the Amplidect Combi phones looked more like ordinary office phones. 

Margaret thought that the smaller buttons on the Amplidect Combi phones could be hard for some people to see and use. Most people found that buttons with black numbers on white backgrounds were clearer than the other way around. 

Amplidect Combi phone

Amplidect Combi phone.

Tony was reassured that you could see incoming call numbers on the Amplidect Combi phones’ LCD screens, since this would make it easier to avoid scam and nuisance calls. 

Linda wanted to know if they need to be plugged into the mains, because her aunt had to return one phone because there wasn’t a socket where it needed to be placed. The Big button photo telephone is powered through the phone line, but the other two phones need a mains connection. 


One person pointed out that, because the Big button photo telephone doesn’t have a separate handset, it means you couldn’t lose it. However, many people preferred having additional handsets that you could place in other rooms. If you did lose a handset, you’d have two days to find it before it stopped working with the base. 

Another group member asked if there were similar phones that only came as a handset, without the need for a base phone. These do exist, though they’re not currently stocked in our shop – something we will be looking into. 

Trevor asked if the phones have an answerphone function, which the Amplidect Combi phones do. Anne was pleased to hear that you could vary how many times they would ring before the answerphone picked up. 

Amplidect Combi Photo phone

Amplidect Combi Photo phone.


Many people asked whether the phones’ volume levels are adjustable. Fortunately, you can adjust ring tone volume and incoming call volume on all three of these phones. 

Ann said, ‘I’ve got a different phone at home with a handset, and I can’t hear the handset ringtone at all.’ 

The fact that a light flashes when someone calls was generally a welcome feature, though Sarah wondered if it could be annoying if the phone was in your bedroom. 

Pam and Colin had recently set up a new phone to make it easier to call important numbers by programming them in – they said they wished they had known before that you could get phones with pictures!

Daily living aids

If you have dementia or are supporting someone who does, our online shop includes a range of great products to make everyday life a bit easier.

Browse our shop

These landline phones – along with a range of other helpful products and gifts – are available from our online shop.

Prices without VAT (you don’t have to pay VAT if it’s bought to be used by a person with dementia or other condition) - prices correct as of May 2019.

Dementia together magazine: June/July 19

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Dementia together magazine is for everyone in the dementia movement and anyone affected by the condition.
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Can you get a phone that lets you know that its been put down the wrong way around

my mother is always leaving the handset off so i cant get through to her . i bought her a mobile which she cant use as she looses everything.
is there a phone or alarm that would let her know the reciever is off

There is a device that you can add to the phone which will automatically hang up when the call is ended. It's called a CPC device: https://www.amazon.com/Viking-Electronics-Calling-Party-Contol/dp/B000U… This Geemarc phone has an automatic hang up feature: https://www.alzproducts.co.uk/geemarc-cl60-rotary-phone Not sure whether these devices are compatible with the UK Digital Voice switchover though which is closing the landline system by 2025 and which means anyone who wants a home phone will be changed to an internet based system. Another thing people have done is programme a dedicated mobile phone at the person's house that has a custom ringtone which tells them to put the phone back on the hook. You could call the mobile to trigger the message, putting it out of reach so it can't be answered or used.

I need two phones that plugs into the modem & the second one can go in any room. My moms modem is in a room she doesn’t like to go into. Is there anything like this out there? She has dementia & can’t see much or hear very well.

Hello Laurie,

If you are based in the UK, we recommend speaking with one of our dementia advisers to discuss support for your mom. They will be best placed to provide you with advice. Please call our Dementia Connect support line on 0333 150 3456. (More information on opening times: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/dementia-connect-support-line)

If you're based in the US, please contact the Alzheimer's Association helpline: https://alz.org/help-support/resources/helpline

Or if you're based in Canada, please contact the Alzheimer's Society of Canada helpline: https://alzheimer.ca/en/Home/ContactUs

Alzheimer's Society website team

I want to buy the handset with the pics on it ? But it says it’s compatable with the same brand . So does that mean it won’t work with any phone ...Didn’t really want to buy the main phone as well as don’t need that please advise ..... After reading all the comments I’m worried now about my mum being scammed

Hi Karen, thanks for getting in touch.

We'd suggest emailing [email protected] referencing the handset you are interested in - they should be able to advise on products.

In the meantime, please do call our support line if you have concerns about your mum. Our dementia advisers can provide you with dementia information and advice best suited to your situation: 0333 150 3456

We hope this helps for now.

Alzheimer's Society blog team

Can you tell me if there’s a phone available that can only dial or receive from selected numbers please? My mum suffers from vascular dementia and has been scammed several times but has also called and set up television packages, lotteries etc. I’m at my wits end and on the banks Christmas Card list because we’re down there so often fixing problems! 🤦‍♀️

Hi Sharon,

If you think you might benefit from chatting with other people affected by dementia, we'd recommend visiting our online community, Talking Point. It's the ideal place to ask others if they've had similar experiences or used a phone they'd recommend. Talking Point is free, and open day or night: https://forum.alzheimers.org.uk

You can also call our Dementia Connect support line on 0333 150 3456 to speak with one of our trained dementia advisers about this and other ways to support your mum. More details about the support line (including opening hours) are available here: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/dementia-connect-support-line

In the meantime, here's a blog post with some advice and tips regarding scams: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/blog/financial-scams-dementia-safety-advi…

We hope this helps for now.

Alzheimer's Society website team

You can have her provider block any premium numbers that are the worst scammers

After using other call blocking systems we purchased the Truecall system for my parents who were receving 6 or 7 scam calls every day. This is an amazing invention which acts like a reception catching all unknown callers. They have to give a name to have the call put through. Needless to say almost all scammers don't want to leave a name. I have the remote access and can see who calls. I can then look up numbers I don't recongise and block the number if they are suspicious so any calls from that number are automatically rejected in the future. You can set it up so that friends, family and known numbers come through without being stopped so there is no problem. There is also a version for people with dementia where I think you can limit the outgoing calls as well as the incoming calls more easily but I haven't used this version. I cannot recommend this product highly enough. My parents now only get two or three scam calls a week and I have peace of mind that phone scams are being dealt with.

Hi Jo,
Thank you for the information, I’ll definitely look into that. Can you tell me if you have to go through your telephone network supplier to get it?

Hi Sharon, It is a little box which plugs in the telephone socket on the wall and then you plug the telephone into the box. It is simple to set up and just catches calls as they come in so you don't need to worry about your telephone provider. Once it is plugged in you can use some software on the internet to enter your friends, family, GP, optician etc so their calls are automatically put through. You can also enter any numbers you want to be automatically blocked and they will be told their call is not wanted and will not be connected. Calls from any other numbers will then be required to introduce themselves before the call is put through. This is when the scammers usually hang-up. I have the option which allows me check all the calls coming in and going out at my parent's house and I am able to use the software to block any new calls which are identified as scammers. Hope this helps.

We used the call blocker so that only known numbers could get through. This helped a lot and stopped the scammers . It certainly reduced our stress levels. My mother in law would phone and tell us she had spoken to a ‘ lovely person ‘ and this would inevitably mean she had bought another insurance or service she didn’t need. We also persuaded her not to keep her bank card in her purse.
Hi Christine, We finally got POA through and my mum now doesn’t have any debit cards, only a chip and sign one. I now deal with her finances, so no-one can get her bank details from her any more. That’s one less worry to deal with. If anyone does phone her she tells them that I deal with everything. Thank you for your feedback.

Hi, COuld you please tell me if when a voicemail is left, a light flashes to let the person know there is a message waiting?


Hi Leila, thanks for your comment.

We've put this question to the suppliers of the phones, who have said;

‘On the PHOTO100 (Big Button Photo Phone) there is no LED that flashes to indicate there is a new message. The same goes for the 295, there is no flashing light - only a message on the display telling you that you have [number] new messages. ’

We hope this helps to answer your question. Please let us know if there's anything else we can help with.

Many thanks,

Alzheimer's Society website team

Hi Leila Yes there is a red button which lights up if there is an answer phone message

Could you tell me whether the volume on the phone would need to be readjusted for each call or whether the volume would stay high permanently ?
( friend with dementia wouldn’t remember how to adjust volume)
Thank you

Hi Christine, thanks for your comment.

We've put this question to the suppliers of the phones, who have said;

‘On the DECT295 and 595, you can adjust the volume through the menu, there are five levels to choose from. However you should note that level five is not the highest level there is since during a call, the boost button (located on the side of the handset) can be activated to increase the sound level even further. This increase in sound only lasts as long as the call itself and needs to be reactivated during each new call.

‘As for the Big Button Phone, I am not sure which one you are referring too ? On the corded phones like the CL100 or AMP50s you should find a slide button you can use to set the volume on low medium or high. If you select high, the sound will stay at that level until you slide the button to another position.’

Hope this helps to answer your question. Please let us know if there's anything else we can help with.

Many thanks,

Alzheimer's Society website team

good afternoon, i have just obtained a Amplipower 50 phone and am rather puzzled as i cannot find how to get the answerphone to work please could you tell me what to do to record calls when i am out of the house, thank you.

Hi Austin, thanks for your comment.

Could you please email [email protected], referencing the model you bought and where you bought it from? One of the team will be in touch with more information and advice.


Alzheimer's Society blog team

Hi, my mother in law has dementia and has started to ring the police. We think she possibly had either an automated call, sales or maybe a scam call. I wondered if there was a simple phone that could be programmed to only receive particular numbers (ours) and put the rest to recorded message that we could access and call back if necessary. I know you can get a phone to block particular numbers, but that would rely on knowing scammers numbers??? Thank you.

Hi Debbie

Thanks for getting in touch. We'd recommend calling our Dementia Connect support line on 0333 150 3456. Our dementia advisers can provide information and advice specific to your mother in law's situation: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/dementia-connect-support-line

You may also find it helps to talk with other people who have gone through or are going through similar experiences to share ideas and tips. Visit our online community, Talking Point, for peer support: https://forum.alzheimers.org.uk/ It's free, and open day or night.

In the meantime, we recently shared a blog post about coronavirus related scams, which you might find interesting: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/blog/coronavirus-covid-19-scams-people-af…

We hope this is helpful.

Alzheimer's Society blog team

My mother has alzheimers and the biggest problem with phones is putting the handset back correctly. Does anybody have any tips or ideas. Thank you

Hi Jon,

If you're looking to chat with other people affected by dementia, we'd recommend visiting our online community, Talking Point. It's the ideal place to ask others if they've had similar problems - they may be able to provide you with ideas and tips that have worked for them.

Talking Point is free, and open day or night: https://forum.alzheimers.org.uk/

We hope this helps for now.

Alzheimer's Society blog team

My sister has dementia. She lives independently at present but has started to leave the house to go shopping for long periods of time 4 to 5 hours. Over the past week we have had to go looking for her and we find her in a confused state. We are are looking at GPS trackers do you have any suggestions ?

Hi Linda, thanks for your comment.

Sorry to hear about the recent changes in your sister's behaviour.

We have some information on our website which you may find helpful. First of all these pages on why a person may go walking about, and how to help keep them safe: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/about-dementia/symptoms-and-diagnosis/wal…

We also have this magazine article on GPS devices, some of which may be relevant to your situation: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/dementia-together-magazine/feb-march-2018…

If you need more support or want to talk to somebody about your sister's walking, you can also call our Dementia Connect support line on 0333 150 3456. A dementia adviser will be able to learn more about your situation and give tailored information, advice and support: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/national-dementia-helpline

Hope this is helpful, Linda.

Alzheimer's Society blog team

Geemarc serenirmties
great phone would not part with it.

Hello, Mum's is terrible at picking up the phone. Poor eyesight, Alzheimers and Vascular dementia, bad hearing and an inability to move quickly (laziness I call it) doesn't help when she is alone at home. Currently there's four handsets across the home, in four rooms. She is still having difficulty using them. I need a simple, easy to hear, see and use phone, with a flashing light and loud ringer. One phone connection to the wall, three other handsets with a plug to charge. Whats the best solution for me please? Thanks. Simon, London.

Hi there Simon, thanks for getting in touch.
We suggest speaking with one of our National Dementia Helpline advisers on 0300 222 11 22 – they may be able to suggest a solution: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/national-dementia-helpline
Additionally, you may benefit from joining our online community, Dementia Talking Point, where people affected by dementia can share their experiences with others in similar situations. You might find some people have ideas that have worked for them. Find out more here: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/dementia-talking-point-our-on…
We hope this helps, Simon.
All the best.
Alzheimer's Society blog team

I have had a CL400 Geemarc big button phone for 17 years or more!1 It has worked so well for me as I have hearing aids and need the louder volume. I have recently signed up for a new broadband contract with TalkTalk - my old contract with them ran out last week. They sent me the hub and router etc. and I had to fix it myself and I messed up the plugs and wiring on the phone which I should have just left the same except for the plug into the wall through to my bedroom where I have my computer. The phone seems to be much softer and sometimes cuts out and I have interference which I didn't have before the new internet connection. I have asked TT to send an engineer round to have a look at the plugs. The wall plug is very old - came with the phone originally and it seems that the power line is what is affected and doesn't seem to give a good connection. Is this something to do with the phone itself. I have only just found your booklet and would actually like to buy a new phone maybe one of the combi ones although I need a new big button one I think asap as I am lost without mine. Can you help me please. I am deaf and wear hearing aids in both ears and have had aids since I was 50 - I am now 76. I am recovering from two hospital visits and am quite ill at the moment. I really need my phone and TT have been a nightmare to get any help or an engineer to visit. I am really fed up with them.

Hi Carole,
Thanks for getting in touch. We're so pleased to learn you're happy with your Geemarc phone - that's great news.
Although your recent issues with your broadband provider must be very frustrating.
We do hope this is resolved soon, and your health significantly improves.
All the best, Carole.
Alzheimer's Society blog team

Hi Carole

If there is anything that we at Geemarc can do to help. Please give us a call on 01707 387602 between 09:00 and 16:00 Monday to Friday or drop us an e-mail on [email protected].


Geemarc Telecom S.A.