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How to Make iPhone Elderly-Friendly?

To make smartphone elderly-friendly you need to increase the sound volume, configure speed dial and configure SOS button. You would also want to install elderly-friendly apps like medication reminders. Check more suggestions below on how to make an elderly-friendly cellphone.

Okay, your elderly friend (or maybe your grandma) has finally ditched her old flip phone in favor of a brand new shiny smartphone. Although the title of this piece relates to an iPhone, it could just as easily be an Android or a Windows phone. It doesn’t matter which one she’s chosen, the principle is the same even if the details are different.

RELATED: Guide to cell phones for seniors

How to Make your Smartphone Elderly Friendly

What we’ll talk about here isn’t so much as HOW to go about making the phone elderly-friendly, but more about WHAT you can do.

It’s up to you to check the user guide and find out how to do it depending on the type and model of the phone.

Set up Touch ID

Remember how you used to have to remember a password or PIN to get access to your phone? Well, most phones now will scan your fingerprints to check you have the authorization to access it. Not only can your grandma input her fingerprints, but you can have multiple users, so you or some other relative or friend can have access too. This is useful in case grandma becomes ill or passes away.

Enable Voice Dial

In an emergency you want grandma to be able to phone for help straight away. She’ll be flustered anyway without having the added problem of looking up phone contact details. Set up voice dial and make sure she knows that you have to speak to the phone with a special word before it will obey. Y

ou know what I mean, “Siri”, “Hey Google” or whatever the specific ‘wake word ‘ might be. This is especially useful if grandma is visually impaired or if she has problems controlling her fingers.

Configure emergency SOS Button

This feature may not be available on all phones but it alerts certain family members or the authorities when you’re in trouble and need help. The iPhone contacts the emergency services when you press a certain button.

You can also set up emergency contact details in the ‘Health’ app and the SOS feature will automatically send a message to those contacts. Just think how much more peace of mind you’ll have when you know that if grandma falls and breaks her hip at home she can phone for an ambulance and let you know immediately.

Turn on “Find my Phone”

We all know how often a senior misplaces their reading glasses or wallet. They’ll spend ages looking for it, only to find its in their coat pocket or somewhere equally as silly. It might even have been stolen! Well, a smartphone can be misplaced just as easily.

However, if you set up the “Find My Phone” app, all you’ll need to do is use another internet-enabled device to find grandma’s phone.  A similar feature is “Send Last Location” which does exactly what it says.

Enable Display Zoom

As we get older our eyesight tends to become worse, and grandma is no exception. Luckily all phones allow you to zoom in on certain areas of the screen. Let’s say that grandma enjoys reading but needs the font size increased. No problem, increasing the font size complements display zoom so words are more legible.

Increase the Sound Volume

Chances are that grandma along with most of the elderly population suffers from hearing loss. If this sounds familiar, increase the volume controls to maximum. This doesn’t just mean the ringer tone, but also notification tones, media, and the phone’s voice assistant. You can also set the phone to vibrate as well as ring, and most phones incorporate colored flashing LEDs as well.

Add Frequently Used Websites to the Home Screen

We all know that a smartphone comes pre-loaded with lots of useful and useless apps. Before handing the phone over to grandma, tidy up her app collection. Get rid of those she’ll never use. The useless apps you can’t delete, place in a folder and label as ‘garbage’.

The next job is to place the apps she uses all the time onto the home page together with links to useful websites. Find out which information she’s likely to use. Maybe the local library, hobby clubs, doctor surgery or whatever else she needs.

Configure Speed Dial

If she finds it spooky talking to her phone then set up grandma’s speed dial numbers instead. Allocate a number to each frequent contact and make sure she knows who is on which number.

Using speed dial means that her friends and family are only a couple of taps away and it gets over the embarrassing problem of talking to the phone in public. Speed dial is much easier to use than diving into the contact list whenever grandma needs to phone a friend or family member.

Choose Elderly-Friendly Apps

The Apple Store, Google Play Store, and Windows Store all contain many useful apps to make a senior’s life easier. Depending on the make of the phone, you’ll also find that some manufacturers have their own app stores containing apps designed specifically for your particular model.

Choose a few for grandma to use and try to update these monthly depending on how useful they’ve been and what new apps are available. While you’re at it, change the app settings so that she can’t make accidental in-app purchases, and so that the app won’t update unless the phone connects to WiFi. It will save a fortune on data charges.

Medical ID

Your phone will either have a medical ID app built-in or you’ll have to download one from the appropriate app store. In cases of emergency, first responders will look for these apps so they know a little about their patient’s medical history.

Useful data such as blood group, emergency contacts, and important medication are all useful information that emergency personnel needs to know. Make sure that you’ve set up the app to ‘Show When Locked’ so the information is visible when the screen is locked.

Medisafe Medication Reminder

There are apps available to help you plan your medications and prescriptions. Medisafe is probably one of the most popular companies to provide these.

Whichever app you choose for your senior relative, it needs to be able to send reminders to take certain medications at various times. Hopefully, the one you choose will also notify when she needs a repeat prescription and will warn of any expected reactions between meds.

Video messaging Apps

There are so many video messaging apps available that it would be difficult to mention them all. For now, let’s just mention Skype, Facetime, and WhatsApp as the most commonly used apps. There’s no disputing that these video apps make speaking to friends and family a pleasure, even if your grandkids are on the other side of the world.

My wife and I use WhatsApp to keep in touch with our son’s family in Australia and Facetime to chat with other grandkids who live locally. Whichever app you use, make sure that grandma knows how to use it, and knows how to keep it updated.


Last but not least we’ll talk about the lighter side of owning a smartphone. Apps aren’t just useful or necessary, some can be fun to use. You can download lots of different game apps such as crosswords, Sudoku, Scrabble and many many more. One of the more popular ones is Lumosity.

Lumosity incorporates brain training games to help keep a senior’s mind active and challenged. You can keep track of your progress and the app regularly updates new features to keep it fresh.

What’s next?

It is so nice to have a user-friendly device, especially for seniors. I am sure that this article has provided useful advice to make your smartphone more senior-friendly. If you are interested in technology you should check these easy to use printers but if you like to spend your free time outside be sure to check step counters.

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