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Tuesday September 21, 2021

Savvy Living

Savvy Senior

Smartphone Tips for Tech-Shy Users

Can you recommend some good smartphone features for older seniors? I would like to get my 78-year-old mother to upgrade to a smartphone but want something that's easy for her to see and use.

There are several smartphone features I can recommend that will provide your mother a simpler, less intimidating smartphone experience.

To set-up your mom's smartphone and make it senior-friendly, start by decluttering and organizing the home screen. You can delete apps your mom will not need and hide apps she will rarely use in labeled folders. You may also want to set up a small number of contacts (with photos and information) of family and friends.

Some smart phones have a wide variety of built-in accessibility features you can turn on depending on your mom's needs. These features, which you access through the phone's settings, can help users that have diminished vision, hearing impairment, hand dexterity problems or cognitive loss. Before purchasing a certain brand of phone, it would be good to research the accessibility features.

Some popular accessibility features include larger text and icon display, zoom (screen magnification), magnifier (turns the phone into a magnifying glass), increased volume and alerts, voice control, find my phone, and emergency SOS and medical ID set up. There are dozens of other tweaks you can make to enhance your mom's experience.

Some phones include an "easy mode" feature in the settings that simplifies the process of customizing the phone. Easy mode boosts the text and icon size and simplifies the home-screen layout and contacts, which makes these phones a nice option for seniors or tech-newbies.

You can also purchase a smartphone that is specifically designed for seniors. Some phones designed for seniors include a larger screen, large text and a simple list-based menu that provides one-touch access to frequently used features like video chat, camera, email and more.

Some phones may include optional health and safety features. Some phones feature a mobile medical alert service that would connect your mom to an agent standing by in emergency situations, 24 hours a day. The agent is usually able to confirm an individual's location and call for help. Some feature optional medical care, which would let your mom speak to a registered nurse or board-certified doctor anytime. There are alert apps that can be added to smart phones that will alert family or friends if your mom uses the feature. You may also find that voice activated assistants or a personal operator service is a helpful add on feature to assist your mom with tasks like finding addresses, setting up appointments, booking rides with rideshare platforms and much more.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published July 9, 2021
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