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Tips for Smartphone Use for Seniors

July 14, 2023

Over the past century alone, advancements in telephone technologies have reached incredible heights. From being confined to a corner of one’s home due to a phone cord to essentially having a small computer in one’s purse, it’s incredible what we can use our telephones to do these days. Knowing all this, it’s no surprise that learning to use a smartphone can be confusing for seniors.

When you get a new smartphone, you often have someone by your side to help you set it up. Once they’re gone, however, figuring out all the intricacies of your phone is a headache. The learning curve may feel quite steep, but these tips for smartphone use for seniors will help you feel more confident with your new device.

Tips for Smartphone Use for Seniors

Start simple

Your children or grandchildren may recommend app after app so you can get the most out of your smartphone. While these applications may be genuinely beneficial (or genuinely fun!), it is best you master the basics at first. Once you understand how to use the phone, messaging, and other important services, you can move on to these auxiliary apps.

Save your password in an easy-to-remember location

Especially as you start using your phone, it’s important you write down your password in an easy-to-remember location. Keep a small notebook in a drawer that logs all your important information, including your phone password. This is something you should practice with all of your passwords, including email addresses or logins to medical services.

However, there are two more ways to get into your smartphone. You can unlock your phone using your fingerprint with a small button at the bottom or on the back of your phone (depending on what type of phone you have). Another way is using your face ID.

To unlock your phone with your fingerprint:

  • Setting up Touch ID with an iPhone: Click on your settings (a grey little icon)–> scroll to “Touch ID & Passcode”–> tap “Add a Fingerprint”–> follow onscreen instructions
  • Setting up a fingerprint with an Android: Click on your settings (a little blue icon that resembles a gear)–> scroll to “Security”–> tap “Fingerprint Unlock”–> follow the onscreen instructions

To unlock your phone with your face

  • Setting up Face ID with an iPhone: Click on your settings –> scroll to “Face ID & Passcode”–> tap “add Face ID”–> follow the onscreen instructions
  • Setting up Face ID with an Android: Click on your settings–> scroll to “Security”–> tap on “Security and privacy”–> tap on “Biometrics”–> tap “Face recognition”–> follow onscreen instructions

Customize your phone to fit your needs

As a senior, your difficulties regarding the phone’s usability could be due to physical concerns. Thankfully, there are certain ways you can customize your phone to make it more accessible for your needs.

Make text size larger

  • On an iPhone: Click on settings–> scroll to “Accessibility”–> tap on “Display & Text Size”–> Select “Larger Text.” You can also bold the text and increase the contrast here.
  • On an Android: Click on settings–> scroll to “Accessibility”–> tap on “Text and Display”–> select a larger size. You can also bold the text or select high contrast here.

To make the on-screen keyboard larger

  • On an iPhone: Click on settings–> scroll to “Display & Brightness”–> tap “View”–> select “Zoomed.” This not only makes the keyboard bigger, but the buttons and controls as well.
  • On an Android: Click on settings–> scroll to “Preferences”–> tap on “Keyboard height”–> choose between mid-tall, tall, or extra-tall keyboards

Learn how to use your smartphone with ease

Set up favorites

It is helpful to have the people you contact most frequently in the “favorites” section of your phone. This allows you to give them a call or a text in just two clicks of a button. To set up your favorites…

  • On an iPhone: Click on the phone app–> go to the “Favorites” tab–> tap the plus at the top of the screen–> scroll through your contacts to find the person you want to add.
  • On an Android: Click on the phone app–> tap “Favorites”–> click “Add” and scroll through contacts to find the person you want to add

Emergency health settings

Though we never want to think of it happening, it is possible that an emergency may occur. If emergency services are called, it may be a guessing game to determine what help you need. However, if you have your emergency health settings set up on your phone, medical personnel can see your information without having to unlock it. This will help them better assess how to treat you.

To turn on these emergency health settings

  • On an iPhone: Open the Health app–> enter your basic information (name, birthday, sex, blood type, health conditions)–> Add emergency contact–> tap done.
    • To allow emergency services to access your medical ID when your screen is locked, open the Health app–> tap your profile picture–> tap medical ID> edit–> slide the toggles next to “show when locked” and “share during emergency call” into the “on” position.
  •  On an Android: Open your settings–> select “Safety & Emergency”–> select “Medical information” and enter your basic info–> at the bottom of the screen, toggle “to help in emergency, people can view this info without unlocking your device.”

Be aware of scams

Unfortunately, there are bad people who want to steal your personal information. Keep on top of any device updates your phone may prompt to ensure security software is performing as it should. If you receive any suspicious phone calls or links from numbers you don’t recognize, block them. If a text comes through claiming to be a new number of your loved one, check in with that individual. Should they say it isn’t their number, it is a scam.

Read our blog on financial scams seniors may face for more information on what to look out for from scammers.

Home care in the Chicago area

For 30 years, Home Care Powered by AUAF has helped seniors age in the comfort of their homes with compassionate service. Our caregivers are available to assist with personal care, or even act as a companion. Whatever activities of daily living you require support with, we are happy to help.

For more information on our services, call us at 773-274-9262.

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