The Best Phones For The Hard Of Hearing
If the past year has shown us anything, it’s the importance of communicating remotely with friends and family. But age-related hearing loss can impact on how well we speak with our elderly parents over the phone, and leave them feeling more isolated. The good news is that there are some great hearing impaired phone devices available – we’ve rounded up the best phones for the hard of hearing here. There’s so many options out there it can be difficult to know what to choose.
We know this is a real concern for lots of our readers. Our articles on gadgets to hear the TV better are consistently in our most read, so we hope this helps you to break down any communication barriers and get you chatting effortlessly with your mum and dad again!
- Why Do We Need A Different Phone To Help With Hearing Loss?
- Will A Hearing Aid Work Instead?
- Can Hearing Loss Be Due To Ear Wax Build Up?
- Phone Amplifier
- Amplified Corded Phones
- Call Blocker
- Cordless Phones For The Hard Of Hearing
- Extra Loud Cordless Phone
- Best Mobile For Hard Of Hearing
- Smartphone For Elderly
- Mobile Phone For Hearing Impaired
- Relay Phone Service
Why Do We Need A Different Phone To Help With Hearing Loss?
Even for people who don’t experience hearing loss, the sound quality in phone calls is not always optimum – for example if the person on the other end is using a mobile phone and has bad signal, or if there is background noise.
So when that is combined with hearing loss, speaking on the phone becomes more difficult. There isn’t just one type of hearing impairment, and adapted phones have been developed to help people communicate more easily.
Amplifier phones are great for people who need an increase in volume and tone control. When people experience hearing loss, they generally lose the ability to hear higher frequency sounds. This means it can be hard to distinguish separate words, and telephone amplifiers overcome this by boosting hard to hear parts of speech like the letters ‘T’ and ‘S’.
If your loved one has severe hearing loss then a captioned telephone service could be the solution. And there’s also some good options for mobile phones for the hearing impaired.
We go into more detail on all of these options below, so keep reading.
Will A Hearing Aid Work Instead?
I know some older people are put off getting a hearing aid (it can make them feel ‘old’ or they think they will be easily noticed), but these compact listening devices can be life changing. They enhance sounds and distinguish between different types of sounds (conversation vs background noise for example), amplifying the correct sound to a suitable volume.
Hearing Aid Compatible Phones
Most amplified phones now are hearing aid compatible (but also work if the user does not wear an aid). How this works is that inside of a hearing aid is a telecoil. The phone transmits a magnetic current with the sound wave along this telecoil, making the dialogue in a phone conversation crisp and clear and removing any interference.
If you or your parent are concerned about their hearing, there’s a few options. 1. Encourage them to visit their GP who could arrange a consultation (they don’t necessarily need NHS hearing aids if they go down this route, they could purchase them privately).
2. There’s amazing software that allows your parent to have a free online hearing test, from the comfort of their home. The results can be discussed with an audiologist or taken to a hearing aid distributor.
3. Book a free consultation with an audiologist. This can be a good route even if your parent hasn’t had their hearing checked – they can relay their concerns and speak openly with the expert, who can then signpost them. Hearing Direct offer this free service.
Can Hearing Loss Be Due To Ear Wax Build Up?
Someone very close to me had a huge ear wax build up. She couldn’t hear a thing for weeks, until she had microsuction to quickly and painlessly remove this wax over-production.
That’s because, as we age the anatomy of our ears change. The cerumen glands become drier and not as efficient as removing wax from the ear canal. Other factors can contribute too – sitting too close to loud noises (the ear produces more wax to protect the ear drum) and hearing aids as they can block the ear canal.
If your parent wears a hearing aid, it’s important to keep on top of ear wax build up – this is a major cause of hearing aid repairs.
Microsuction ear wax removal is the safest way to have excess ear wax removed as the chances of eardrum perforation and infections are significantly reduced compared to syringing. A simple procedure that can be carried out quickly at home by a professional, it uses a suction device to pull out the wax with no adverse side effects.
This could be a simple expert way to help your parents to hear better. But of course, amplified telephones are there to also help them ongoing – so let’s look at our top selection.
If your parent is asking “how do I increase the volume on my landline phone?” then a phone amplifier could work. It’s always worth checking first that their volume setting is on max, but if they still struggle to hear then there are some good hearing impaired telephone solutions.
A telephone amplifier boosts the volume (up to as much as 32 times the volume of a standard landline) and changes the tone of the sound so that higher-pitched noises and blurred words are easier to pick up.
Some adapted home phone models also now include call blocking (very useful given the rise of scam calls), a large keypad with easy to read numbers (sometimes backlit) and speakerphone. They vary in difficulty, so there’s an option depending on your parent’s level of cognition.
Amplified Corded Phones
If your parent is used to and likes having a corded landline, then it’s just a case of updating the model to make it more effective. The amplified corded phones will also be louder (compared to amplified cordless phones), so if your loved one has severe hearing loss then this is likely to be the best approach.
Geemarc is the brand at the top of its game when it comes to telephones for the hard of hearing, and this phone has been called a “lifeline” by one of our clients who bought it for his dad. It’s one of the loudest phones on the market (up to 60DB), makes calls with minimal distortion and it’s fully compatible with hearing aids (at T function).
Simple to use, there’s two sliders at the top of the phone that let your parent control the level of volume and tone (even mid conversation), and stay in place until moved again. There’s another button which once pressed increases the volume to max – this is only for the duration of that phone call so as not to be too loud if another person used it next.
The big buttons feature white lettering on a dark background so they stand out for anyone who is visually impaired. There’s also 12 options for speed dial contacts and a pull out section to write who these contacts are.
An LED light flashes when ringing, with this visual cue making the user aware of the incoming call too.
Hearing loss and cognitive impairment can make using the phone even more difficult. The Amplicomms is user-friendly. Its easy to programme photo memory buttons remove the barrier to phone conversations that many people with dementia have, so they can easily communicate with loved ones. This landline easily connects to a phone socket and has an extra loud ringer and phone volume.
If your parent is used to their corded home phone, and you’re hesitant to change it then this portable telephone amplifier is a great solution. They can increase the volume and tone of the call (the two factors which hearing impairment can affect).
Callers’ voices can be amplified by up to 40DB (so not significantly less than the Geemarc telephone above), whilst the tone control of plus or minus 6 decibels will improve clarity. As it connects between the base unit and handset of your parent’s usual plugged in landline (extending the curly cord) it can only be used on a corded landline and switches on when the handset is picked up.
Please don’t use one with an already amplified telephone as it could distort the call quality and negate the reason for buying these assisted devices.
Do your parents ever miss a phone call as they don’t hear it ringing? If so, and you don’t want to update their model then a phone ring amplifier is for you. It works on corded and cordless phones, and emits an extra loud ring tone (adjustable up to 95 decibels) when the phone goes.
This ring indicator also has other cues to choose from – a light, vibrations or an alarm.
You may also need to buy it with an adaptor depending on your phone, such as this (for a UK phone) which will also save on battery life.
The above phone options are good but their functionality is very much focused on call quality and not scam calls. To block unwanted calls on a landline, you can get a call blocker. This one by True Call has been given the Which? green light – they said “It’s more expensive than other simpler models but it will cut out more nuisance calls than anything else”.
All you need to do is plug it in (it works on all home phones) and it starts blocking scammers and unwanted calls straightaway. It quickly learns who your parent wants to speak to and who it doesn’t – but it’s also possible to manage the list of trusted callers.
Perfect if you’re concerned about your parent getting scammed on the phone.
Cordless Phones For The Hard Of Hearing
There’s a bit more choice when it comes to amplified cordless phones. Here we’ve got a few options depending on the scale of your parent’s hearing loss. There’s options from the likes of trusted brand Panasonic too, but whilst they have good features they don’t amplify the volume as much.
The Geemarc Amplidect 295 Amplified Cordless Duo Telephone With Answering Machine looks stylish and is suitable for people with mild to moderate hearing loss. The ring can be boosted up to 30db and the conversation volume can be adjusted.
From a safety perspective, it also comes with inbuilt call blocking, has a range that works up to 300m in the garden (when you compare that to a personal alarm working generally up to 100m range that’s far!), has an answerphone and can store up to 50 numbers. You can also customise ring tones for five contacts. And if you want a combi version that comes with both corded and cordless phones, Geemarc make that too.
For an extra loud cordless phone, the Geemarc Amplidect 595 is our recommendation. This telephone for hard of hearing offers everything the above version does but raises the ringing volume to 50 decibels. Hearing aid compatible and with bigger buttons than a normal phone, but still looks sleek.
Best Mobile For Hard Of Hearing
Depending on what your parent wants to use their phone for (just calling and texting, or apps and video calls) there’s a few hard of hearing mobile phone options.
If your parent is struggling to hear well on an iPhone (they are compatible with specific hearing aids though so looking into that could help) or well-known Android brand, but still wants the smartphone functionality then the Doro 8080 could work.
Doro is another great brand (like Geemarc) for enhanced communication. Hearing aid compatible, it has best in class sound for a mobile and has the option to boost volume by a further 20%. It comes with pre-installed Google maps and other apps can be downloaded.
All Doro mobile phones come with a Response function too so your parent can easily get in touch at the touch of a button if needed.
We’re looking to Doro again here. They make phones with older adults in mind, so features like extra loud and bright sound, large separated keys and high visual contrast come as standard.
The Doro 7010 is a standard easy to use unlocked mobile phone that also comes with Whatsapp and Facebook so your parent can stay connected.
For an more basic unlocked phone with high volume but without internet connectivity, the Doro 1370 is the answer.
Relay Phone Service
In the UK, they don’t offer captioned phones like they do in the USA (if you’re reading this here, the Hamilton CapTel is recommended).
Instead, BT offers the Relay phone service for deaf, speech imapired or severely hard of hearing people. An assistant will type the conversation out, so you speak and they can read it. It can be used via the Relay app (on a smartphone) or via a normal text phone.
At ElWell, our favourite thing is discovering products which make life easier for older adults. Communication is something we take for granted until it becomes harder. No adult should have to feel isolated and lonely, and so we wanted to look at hearing loss and round up some of the best phones for the elderly available.