Simplifying Smartphones for Grandparents

Smartphones can be an excellent source of connection and community. For the older generation, smartphones can serve as a bridge to connecting with family and friends in new and profound ways. iPhones and Androids alike are available to battle feelings of isolation and loneliness. They can serve as incredible tools to talk and interact with a grandchild who may be states away or see pictures on social media of an extended relative’s newborn baby. Even though smartphones can be a wonderful resource for connection, many older adults feel stuck, overwhelmed, and unsure of how to use them. Growing up in a completely different world than the digital age can lead older adults to feel in over their heads when it comes to learning this new form of technology. Studies show that integrating a smartphone into the life of a grandparent can help rates of isolation exponentially. The integration of the smartphone is worth the hassle of a learning curve as it can truly improve a person’s quality of life. Thankfully, there are ways to lower that learning curve and simplify smartphones for grandparents and older adults. We’ve compiled a list of some tips and tricks below to make the iPhone and Android experience a more accessible one for all. 

  1. Make text size larger. Visibility is a huge aspect to make the smartphone less intimidating. iPhones and Androids alike have the ability to alter the font size. Increasing the text size allows older adults to be able to read everything on their screen more easily. This simple change can make a huge difference for so many by increasing their confidence and independence with the usage of their phones.
  2. Simplify their home screen: The home screen can be an overwhelming place for many older adults. iPhones and Androids have so many features, many of which will go unused if you are unfamiliar or intimidated by the mass amount of functions available. Simplifying the home screen to only contain apps that will be used is an easy way to promote confidence in your grandparent. By uninstalling unnecessary apps, you clear clutter from the home screen and allow for a deeper sense of familiarity and mastery of the apps that still exist on the page. For apps that come with the iPhone and are not deletable, you can put these in a folder and on a second page of the home screen to eliminate confusion. Android users have a feature called a simple launcher that only allows for the 9 most used apps on the home screen. 
  3. Set up apps to connect with grandchildren: Connecting with loved ones is the ultimate motivating factor for many older adults in learning how to navigate their smartphones. Luckily, there are a lot of apps for grandparents that exist out there to simplify and encourage making those points of connection with your grandchild. These apps allow for video and text chatting, picture and video sharing, and games that can be played together. Sharing a moment with your grandchild in times of long-distance can be absolutely pertinent to maintaining connection and closeness.
  4. Use a reminders app: Calendar and to-do list apps can be a great asset to owning a smartphone. In fact, having all of this information in one place rather than spread out over a calendar, a sticky note pad, or a daily agenda has actually proven to be very helpful for many adults battling memory issues. Reminder apps can send a notification to your phone to remind you to take your medication or of the time of an appointment. This means you don’t have to even remember to check your calendar yourself, the phone itself can remind you about the tasks and schedule of the day. 
  5. Preprogram favorite contacts: Implementing a favorite contacts list allows smartphone users to have easy access to the people they call regularly. Implementing a favorites contact list can be particularly helpful in contacting an emergency contact faster in any situation. 
  6. Use family safety apps: Apps that promote family safety are a great way for parents to keep a watchful eye on both children and their older adult parents. These apps are great in that they share the smartphone’s location and alert family members when the battery is low. These apps can make a huge difference where dementia or even early onset memory issues are involved. 
  7. Take a class. Simplifying smartphones for older adults is absolutely crucial. Many community service organizations or senior living facilities actually host classes on technology education. Taking a class can make a huge difference in promoting understanding and independence for older adults with their smartphones. Maintaining autonomy is very important for this age group, so creating learning opportunities can truly improve older adults’ overall quality of life.   

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