1. Android Central Question's Avatar
    People with dementia, or the elderly as a whole tend to struggle with the complexity of the mobile phone. Despite the vast array of phones available, ever increasing levels of technology and sensors, and vastly flexible operating systems, there does not seem to be any combination that I can find that offers a simpler user experience.

    The question is ... is it possible to customise a mobile phone to provide only basic functionality, and with that functionality 'controlled' externally ?

    For example, my father would require a phone that is easy to switch on (pressing any of the buttons, as he doesn't know which is which), disables everything except the ability to press a photo or text shortcut to make calls, and can be used to track the phone externally should he go walk-abouts. Things that can 'accidentally' be updated should also be disabled (eg volume up/down etc) as these can render the phone useless without him understanding what has happened.

    Others may also have other requirements, eg incoming video calls but restricted to family members, 'spoken' reminders that the battery is low, etc.

    For the external control, I would like to be able to update any phone numbers/photos etc, re-set volume levels and the like. Ideally remotely, but via USB to a PC would be fine too.

    I am really surprised that there isn't already an Android version available that would provide this, but I am unable to locate one. I would also try to use the existing OS's, but all of them have apps that cannot be uninstalled or 'unnecessary' actions. (Try getting someone with dementia to swipe and drag, pinch etc, or to have to drag down the notifications bar to change brightness levels).

    So, if there are any options (even to using the android SDK to 'build' something, I could use all the help I can get !

    Regards

    Vic
    04-23-2018 01:44 AM
  2. B. Diddy's Avatar
    Welcome to Android Central! See if BIG Launcher provides what you're looking for.
    04-23-2018 02:56 AM
  3. chanchan05's Avatar
    Is there a reason why it has to be Android or even touch screen? Sounds to me like you'd do better with getting a phone like a 3310 (2017) then buying an iTraq for your elderly person to wear around his neck or on the back of his shirt like a tag. It looks like a big dogtag anyway, a little smaller than a credit card. Just keep it under his shirt. The iTraq not only will provide GPS, but also detects falls. It pairs with an app on your phone as the caregiver. So you'll receive the alerts. There are other brands too that look like keychains.
    B. Diddy likes this.
    04-23-2018 04:33 AM
  4. Old Codger's Avatar
    Thanks B.Diddy. The launcher itself looks good, and I will investigate further, (and let you know how I go), but it looks like it is great for seniors, but may well still be too much for people with dementia. They have difficulty with anything that is complex and more than a single simple action. (eg pressing 'phone' button then getting numbers to call is fine, but having to swipe or change any options is too hard ...

    Thanks for the pointers though, I have a father in law who is vision impaired, and it may be great for him .....

    Cheers,

    Vic
    B. Diddy likes this.
    04-23-2018 05:07 AM
  5. Old Codger's Avatar
    Hi ChanChan

    The reason for android is manyfold, but the ability to customise is a very important one. Presenting someone with dementia with the multiple options etc on the screen of the 3310 is overwhelming for them. (He was unable to use a flip-phone when they were still widely available). I wonder if I can build something into an old rotary dial phone ?

    Using a separate iTraq sounds like it is a good idea - but I won't tell him that it is like a dog tag !. All I have to do is get him to remember to put it on .......

    Cheers,

    Vic
    04-23-2018 05:14 AM
  6. chanchan05's Avatar
    Hi ChanChan

    The reason for android is manyfold, but the ability to customise is a very important one. Presenting someone with dementia with the multiple options etc on the screen of the 3310 is overwhelming for them. (He was unable to use a flip-phone when they were still widely available). I wonder if I can build something into an old rotary dial phone ?

    Using a separate iTraq sounds like it is a good idea - but I won't tell him that it is like a dog tag !. All I have to do is get him to remember to put it on .......

    Cheers,

    Vic
    By dog tag I mean the military dog tag ID.

    A lot of former military wear there's always anyway. Restricted function OS for dementia/elderly-images.jpg
    04-23-2018 05:28 AM
  7. B. Diddy's Avatar
    Here are a few more simple launchers:

    Wiser
    Necta
    Phonotto
    Simple Senior Phone
    Large Launcher
    Senior Launcher Easy Lite
    Laura Knotek likes this.
    04-23-2018 09:48 AM
  8. Rukbat's Avatar
    First, what do you consider "elderly"? I'm 76 and could still probably write an entire operating system.

    As for dementia, when my wife first started showing signs, she lost the ability to understand what a phone is for. It would sit on her bed and ring, but she wouldn't react to it. My neighbor, who has Alzheimer's, carries his cellphone around with him and has no problem using it. So the things affected by the dementia matter.

    As for pressing a picture to make a phone call, set up the contacts with easily-recognizable pictures of the people. Then, on the home screen, long-press, go to Widgets, and start selecting Direct Call contacts, and you'll have a bunch of pictures on the home screen that can be tapped to call each of those people. (And my condolences - I know how difficult it is to have someone you care about in that condition.)
    Laura Knotek and B. Diddy like this.
    04-23-2018 05:18 PM
  9. Old Codger's Avatar
    First, what do you consider "elderly"? I'm 76 and could still probably write an entire operating system.

    As for dementia, when my wife first started showing signs, she lost the ability to understand what a phone is for. It would sit on her bed and ring, but she wouldn't react to it. My neighbor, who has Alzheimer's, carries his cellphone around with him and has no problem using it. So the things affected by the dementia matter.

    As for pressing a picture to make a phone call, set up the contacts with easily-recognizable pictures of the people. Then, on the home screen, long-press, go to Widgets, and start selecting Direct Call contacts, and you'll have a bunch of pictures on the home screen that can be tapped to call each of those people. (And my condolences - I know how difficult it is to have someone you care about in that condition.)
    Hi Rukbat - Sorry, there was no offence meant when I mentioned the elderly (although when I went back to check, I did say 'the elderly as a whole' - in fact I meant 'many of the elderly'. I'll stop there as if I keep going I'll bury myself even deeper.). I'm 60, so fall into the 'elderly' category myself.

    As with all cases of dementia, there is a broad spectrum - my father is one of those that is easily confused with anything new. Presenting him with anything that isn't directly 'phone call' presents him with problems, hence the wish to disable/hide all of the settings, keyboard inputs, and anything that needs a swipe and so on. He can manage the simple dial/answer of a cordless phone, and it is this that I am trying to emulate to a large degree As with your experiences, he is still very adept at managing his finances, and don't play cards with him for money !.

    I have checked a number of the launchers that B. Diddy has suggested above. A number of these show a great deal of promise, and I may have to end up writing one myself.

    Thanks for your input, it is much appreciated.

    Regards

    Vic
    B. Diddy likes this.
    04-24-2018 01:18 AM

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