Desktop cellular phone
Looks and behaves like a landline
When my elderly mother had to go into a care home we needed to keep in touch by phone.
Care homes do not manage phone systems. You have to make your own landline arrangements with the phone company, and in our circumstance this was impossible.
There was no way could she manage a handheld cellphone/mobile phone. But a “fixed wireless terminal” was a godsend. (Ours was made by Huawei; there are other makes and models out there.)
Elderly people do not need to know it uses a mobile connection, they just use it like a normal phone. It makes a dial tone sound when you lift the phone off the hook, and you can operate it just like a landline phone, so no training is necessary. You just pick up the receiver, dial the number, and after a few seconds it connects automatically and actually puts the number through to the cellphone network. (It you had to press buttons to use the phone, it would have been of no use to us.)
I was surprised that the sellers of these phone didn’t emphasize that it can be operated just like a normal phone. I guess they haven’t appreciated the potential seniors market.
Ours has worked well in two different care homes. When she gets a long term place it may be worth installing a landline.11/22/13
(I couldn't find an online source for the particular Huawei phone that Tom used. But I found a similar phone made by Bestek, which sells for $37 on Amazon. I bought on and tried it out with my existing AT&T SIM card. It works as Tom describes above. The dial tone is higher in frequency than the standard US dial tone, but I was able to make calls simply by lifting the receiver and entering a number on the keypad. I'm going to give this phone to a senior relative living in a care home. -- Mark — editors)