Special features can help seniors make the most of their iPhones.
Special features can help seniors make the most of their iPhones. Apple

Top tips to make technology more user-friendly for seniors

AUSTRALIAN seniors are leading the world when it comes to embracing digital technology, with almost 80 per cent over the age of 65 active online.

According to The Australian Communications Media Authority, this puts them ahead of the US and UK with their use of the internet and other technology.

But with older Australians a growing proportion of the total population, this also presents challenges as it creates a number of accessibility needs, from sight and hearing to mobility.

iPads and iPhones are among the favoured devices for seniors, and the Apple corporation has developed a range of features to help this community.

It's an important area of focus, as the adoption of technology can empower seniors and encourage more independent lives, with one of the major benefits of digital literacy being its ability to keep them engaged with family, friends and community.

To celebrate Global Accessibility Awareness Day (May 16), here are a few top tips to help you get the most from your Apple device (if you have trouble making any of these changes, get an even more tech-savvy friend or family member involved!).


IPAD PRO: New one on way?
A few simple settings changes can make an iPad more user-friendly for seniors.

Use your iPhone and iPad as a magnifying glass

Whether it's looking up an ingredient on the back of a box or zooming in on a medication bottle's small print, the magnifying feature can be handy in a number of situations. The feature is easy to activate and a great option in case you end up forgetting your glasses.

- Open Settings and tap on General

- Tap Accessibility and then choose Magnifier

- Toggle the option for magnifier to 'on'

- Activate the magnifier by triple tapping the side button on iPhone X, iPhones XS or iPhone XR. If you have an older iPhone, instead triple tap the Home button.

Increasing font size

On your iPhone or iPad, you can customise the text for many apps like Mail, Messages, Notes and Contacts to make it easier to read.

Change the font size

- Go to Settings > Display & Brightness > Text Size.

- Drag the slider to select the font size you want.

Make the font even bigger

- Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Larger Text.

- Tap Larger Accessibility Sizes for bigger font options.

- Drag the slider to select the font size you want.

Extend your phone ring

The amount of time your phone rings before it goes to voice mail is important. Especially for someone hard of hearing or with mobility issues. As a standard, your phone rings for 15 seconds before diverting a call to voicemail. However, this can be changed using increments of five seconds, up to a maximum of 30 seconds. This is not a setting available on the phone, but through the service provider - call your provider for instructions on how to extend the ring.

Contacts and dates

Make sure personal Contacts are added to device and ensure all family contacts are added with a photo, for ease of use when selecting to send email, Messages or to FaceTime. Set up relationships with Siri or through contacts so you can say, for example: "Hey Siri, FaceTime my grand-daughter."

Grab your physical calendar off the wall and take time to move all dates to digital. Fill the iCloud calendar with important birth dates, anniversaries etc to occur annually with reminders and alerts set.

SOS and Fall Detection

If you ever find yourself in trouble, the SOS feature (in iOS 11 or later) will call for help and automatically notify your emergency contacts. (Obviously, you'll only want to use this feature in a true emergency).

When you make a call with SOS, your iPhone automatically calls the local emergency number. You can also add emergency contacts. After an emergency call ends, your iPhone alerts your emergency contacts with a text message, unless you choose to cancel. Your iPhone sends them your current location, and, for a period of time after you enter SOS mode, it sends updates to your emergency contacts when your location changes.

To add Emergency contacts on your iPhone:

- Open the Health app and tap the Medical ID tab

- Tap edit, then scroll to Emergency contacts.

- Tap green plus icon to add an emergency contact.

- Tap a contact, then add their relationship.

- Tap Done to save your changes.

* Let us know your top tips for making an Android device more user-friendly for the seniors community.