Tag Archives: phones

Relay: Simplifying voice communication for kids, elders

relay phone

Image courtesy of Relay & Voorhees Segal Communications

I remember the challenge I had in convincing my mother that she needed a cellphone. This was when my father still lived at home, but his dementia was progressing steadily. I wanted them to have safe, quick communication to be able to call for transportation, or for help, if my father should fall or need medical assistance.

My mother surprised me with how much she ended up enjoying her Jitterbug phone. (The company is now called Great Call.) The simple to use phone featured a flip design and large numbers. Getting her that device was one of the best decisions I ever made.

Recently I received information about a super-simple phone called Relay. It was originally designed with kids in mind, but the makers discovered another enthusiastic audience: older adults and their caregivers.

Relay doesn’t look like a phone at all. It’s a colorful square device with a button in the middle. It works more like a walkie-talkie, requiring the user to just press the button to speak. There’s no screen, but the device does have GPS capabilities, which could be an asset for those with dementia who tend to wander. It also features multi-network connectivity, long battery life and durable construction.

It turns out that the company’s goal in creating something simple enough for a five-year-old to use also can prove useful to those with dementia, or older adults managing serious health conditions.

Here are more details about Relay:

  • It is affordable at $49 and available on Amazon and Target
  • Relay works over 4G LTE and Wi-Fi, so it has unlimited range and works everywhere a regular cellphone or smartphone does
  • It’s simple for everyone to use, even for those with limited dexterity
  • Relay is durable and water resistant

I haven’t tried Relay myself, but would be interested in hearing from parents or caregivers who have tried the device. 

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Losing confidence as you grow older

One of the earlier signs of dementia is when a person loses the ability to do tasks that were very simple for them before. For Dad, this included things like ordering at a fast food restaurant or making correct change at the grocery store. He would accuse the clerks of trying to rip him off, when handing them a $10 bill for something that cost $15.

Mom doesn’t have dementia (that we know of) but she has been through a major surgery and has had anesthesia for three different procedures. She’s also been away from the routine of her life for two months. Today she wanted to order Pizza Hut and have it delivered to the home, something she had done dozens of times over the last few years. Today she waffled, almost wanting to give up at the thought of the task. I gently pushed her and she ended up doing just fine placing her order, even remembering a tip. 🙂

She also was not happy with the cordless phone I bought. (Her old phone was dead.) I thought it would be safer for her, so she wouldn’t try to move too fast to answer the phone and fall. But instead she thought it was too high-tech. We compromised. I ordered her one of those old-fashioned desk phones for her bedroom and we will place the cordless phone in the kitchen, so if she’s in there and the phone rings, she can answer it easily without having to run through the house.

Of course, you don’t necessarily have to be older to have these moments of uncertainty. I’ve also been away from the routine of my life for two months now, and have nightmares about forgetting the code to my home’s security system!

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