I'm certainly sympathetic to your situation, Mike,
and cell phones are great for getting hold of family members in emergencies. There are phones for seniors out there, but unfortunately it's a rather underexplored market in the industry. Obviously you want one that's easy to use, without the extraneous features that most cell phones have these days (no text messaging or cameras, for example). Your best bet would be to seek out the most basic of cell phones that's designed to just make calls. You can take a look at our list of favorite basic cell phones
for starters, but you should still keep a few pointers in mind when choosing a phone for the senior in your life. Pick a cell phone with large buttons, an easy-to-read screen, and an option to enlarge the text font size. Most LG phones have these design features, including the LG LX350
(though it does have a camera as well).
One company has stepped forward to offer cell phones specifically designed for seniors. GreatCall, a new MVNO aimed at seniors, was unveiled at CES earlier this year, and one of its first handsets is the Samsung Jitterbug Dial (A120). It has a large and bright keypad and a basic user-friendly design that is very easy to use. GreatCall also offers the Samsung Jitterbug OneTouch (A110) that's designed more for emergencies. It has only three buttons, each of which connects to an operator, emergency services, and a programmable contact. We don't know about pricing or availability of this service yet, but we'll keep you posted.