Simplifying Tech for our Parents

Simplifying Tech for our Parents

Posted by Team Debby on 9th May 2024

Tools on the iPhone to Assist Elderly: 

iPhones have become more than just communication devices; they are now powerful tools that assist users of all ages in their daily lives. For the older generation, navigating new technology can sometimes be a challenge. However, Apple has designed its iPhones with numerous features that are not only user-friendly but also supportive for the elderly in maintaining their independence and staying connected with family and friends.

An iPhone with enlarged icons for easy navigation, a magnifying glass app for reading small text, and a voice command feature for hands-free use

One such feature is the VoiceOver, which aids those with visual impairments by speaking the items on the screen. There is also the Zoom, which turns the iPhone into a digital magnifying glass, making it easier to read small print. For grandparents who have difficulty hearing, the Made for iPhone (MFi) hearing aids can be especially beneficial, seamlessly integrating with the iPhone to provide clearer audio.

With considerations for accessibility at its core, the iPhone hosts a variety of settings that can be adjusted to suit individual preferences and needs.

Larger text options, bold text, increased contrast, and reduced motion are just a few of the simple tweaks that can make the iPhone more approachable. These tools empower seniors to embrace technology, helping them feel more comfortable and confident in this digital age.

Accessibility Features

The iPhone screen displays accessibility tools for seniors

The iPhone includes a range of built-in accessibility features designed to assist users with various needs. These tools enhance the user experience for individuals, including seniors, who might require additional support for vision, hearing, or interaction with their device.


VoiceOver is a screen reader feature that helps users with visual impairments navigate their iPhone by reading aloud what’s on the screen. Users can control what's read by touching the screen or using gestures.

To enable VoiceOver, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Select Accessibility.
  3. Tap VoiceOver, and then toggle it on.


The Magnifier function transforms the iPhone into a digital magnifying glass, allowing users to zoom in on small text or details in their environment.

To enable Zoom, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Select Accessibility.
  3. Tap Zoom, and then toggle it on.

Hearing Aids Compatibility

iPhones are compatible with a range of hearing aids, offering high-quality audio experiences for users with hearing loss. They support the Made for iPhone (MFi) hearing aids standard. To pair a hearing aid, do the following:

  • Go to Settings > Accessibility.
  • Tap Hearing Devices.
  • Then choose your hearing aid from the list of available devices.

Speak Screen

Speak Screen reads the text on the screen aloud, helping users with visual impairments or those who prefer auditory learning.

To activate Speak Screen, swipe down with two fingers from the top of the screen. Alternatively, you can enable it via Settings > Accessibility > Spoken Content.

Communication Aids

An iPhone displaying communication aid tools, such as text-to-speech and large font options, designed to assist elderly users

The iPhone offers a variety of tools to assist with communication, from voice-activated commands to video calls and intelligent messaging.

Siri for Voice Commands

Siri is the iPhone’s built-in virtual assistant that responds to voice commands. Users can make phone calls, send messages, or perform internet searches simply by speaking to their device.

To activate Siri, say "Hey Siri" followed by a command, or press and hold the home button or side button depending on the iPhone model.

  • Activating Siri: Say "Hey Siri" or press the home/side button.
  • Useful Commands: "Call [contact name]", "Send a text to [contact name]", "What’s the weather like today?"

FaceTime for Video Calls

FaceTime enables video calls with other Apple device users. It’s an intuitive application for face-to-face communication. You can access it via the FaceTime app or initiate calls directly through the Contacts app.

  • Starting a Call: Open the FaceTime app and tap on a contact’s name.
  • Group Calls: Supports up to 32 participants at a time.

Messages with Predictive Text

The Messages app is equipped with predictive text, which suggests words or phrases as you type. This helps seniors with potential spelling challenges. The feature learns from individual usage patterns to offer better suggestions over time.

  • Predictive Text: Offers suggestions for the next word as you type.
  • Customizable: Can be turned on or off from the iPhone's keyboard settings.

Health and Safety

An iPhone with health and safety tools displayed on the screen, including medication reminders, emergency contacts, and fall detection

The iPhone offers several built-in tools designed to assist in maintaining health and safety, providing peace of mind for both users and their family members.

Medical ID

The Medical ID feature allows users to store critical health information, which can be accessed directly from the lock screen without needing a passcode. Users can include their:

  • Allergies
  • Medications
  • Blood type
  • Emergency contacts

This information can be crucial for first responders in an emergency.

Emergency SOS

With Emergency SOS, the user can quickly call for help. By pressing and holding the side button and one of the volume buttons, the user’s iPhone automatically:

  • Sounds an alarm
  • Starts a countdown
  • Calls the local emergency services after the countdown

The device can also send a message to the emergency contacts listed in the Medical ID with the user's location.

Fall Detection on Apple Watch

If an Apple Watch detects a hard fall, it triggers an alert and displays an interface for the wearer to:

  • Easily call emergency services
  • Dismiss the alert

If the user is immobile for about a minute, the watch will automatically:

  • Call emergency services
  • Send a message along with the user's location to their emergency contacts

Organization Tools

An iPhone with organization apps open, surrounded by a pair of reading glasses and a notebook

The iPhone offers a suite of built-in apps designed to streamline and simplify organization for users. These tools are user-friendly, enabling easy tracking of daily tasks, events, and notes.

Reminders App

The Reminders app facilitates the creation of to-do lists. Users can:

  • Set Tasks: Assign deadlines and receive notifications.
  • Organize: Group related tasks into customizable lists.

Calendar App

The Calendar app assists in managing schedules. It offers:

  • Event Tracking: Users can add and edit appointments.
  • Alerts: Set up alerts to notify of upcoming events.

Notes App

The Notes app allows for quick note-taking. Features include:

  • Create Notes: Write down information or make lists.
  • Search: Easily find notes with the search functionality.

Entertainment and Learning

An iPhone displaying educational and entertaining apps for elderly users. Icons of books, puzzles, and music are visible on the screen

iPhones offer several built-in tools to keep users entertained and informed. The following apps are essential for listening to podcasts, staying updated with the latest news, and reading books on the go.

Podcasts App

The Podcasts app provides a vast library of audio programs covering various genres and topics. Users can listen to their favorite series, discover new content, and even download episodes for offline listening. It's user-friendly with options to subscribe, create playlists, and receive notifications for new episodes.

News App

Through the News app, iPhone users can access current events and articles from a multitude of sources. The app curates a tailored feed based on the user's interests and reading habits. Articles can be saved for later, and the app includes audio stories for hands-free information consumption.

Books App

The Books app includes a comprehensive selection of titles, including bestsellers, classics, and audiobooks. Readers have options to purchase or download free books, customize reading settings such as font size and background color, and use the built-in dictionary to look up unfamiliar words instantly.

Navigation and Travel

The iPhone screen displays navigation and travel apps, with icons for maps, GPS, and language translation, aiding elderly users

In assisting with movement and location tracking, the iPhone provides user-friendly tools designed to make travel simpler for seniors.

Maps App

The Maps app on the iPhone serves as a powerful GPS navigation system. It provides turn-by-turn directions, traffic conditions, and estimated travel times. Users can quickly search for locations or businesses and get detailed routes for driving, walking, public transportation, or cycling.

Features include:

  • Real-time traffic information: Keeps travelers updated on the traffic conditions.
  • Favorites: Allows saving frequent locations for easy access.
  • Transit: Shows public transportation options and schedules.

Find My iPhone

Find My iPhone helps users locate their misplaced iPhone and other Apple devices like iPad, iPod touch, Apple Watch, or Mac. It’s also useful for seniors to share their location with family members for safety purposes.


  • Location sharing: Users can share their locations with trusted contacts.
  • Lost mode: If the device is lost, Lost mode can lock it and display a customized message with a contact number.
  • Play sound: Makes the device play a sound to help locate it when nearby.

Additional Resources

An iPhone with enlarged icons for accessibility tools, next to a pair of reading glasses and a magnifying glass

This section provides a curated list of resources that can help anyone, including grandparents, get more out of their iPhone through available apps and online educational content.

App Store for Relevant Apps

The App Store is a central hub where iPhone users can find apps tailored to their needs.

For elderly users looking to enhance their iPhone experience, they can explore categories such as:

  • Productivity: Apps like Evernote or Wunderlist to keep track of tasks and notes.
  • Health: Applications like MyFitnessPal or Blood Pressure Monitor for maintaining health records.
  • Entertainment: Options including Audible for audiobooks or Words with Friends for brain-engaging games.
  • Social: Platforms such as Facebook and Skype to stay connected with family and friends.

Online Support and Tutorials

Informative support and tutorials can be found at:

  • Apple's Support Website: It provides comprehensive guides on iPhone features and troubleshooting steps.
  • For example, "How to set up your new iPhone".
  • YouTube: A myriad of video tutorials are available, ranging from basic to advanced levels.
  • Channel suggestions:
    • Apple’s Official YouTube Channel: Official tutorials from Apple.
    • Senior Tech Lessons: Offers tutorials geared towards older adults.