Smartphones have become commonplace tools of everyday living, giving people not only the ability to communicate quickly and effectively across a number of platforms but also access information in seconds. Seniors using smartphones can also get emergency help quickly, monitor health data, set reminders, take crisp photos, listen to music or podcasts, and generally stay connected with the world. But for many older adults, a smartphone transition from a classic cell phone can present a steep learning curve that will require patience and likely some help from a younger or tech-savvy friend or family member.
According to a recent study, only 42 percent of consumers in the United States over 65 own a smartphone, and only 17 percent of those over the age of 80 own a smartphone. Not understanding how to use a smartphone is the most common reason seniors are reluctant to purchase a smartphone.
Because many carriers no longer support a network that covers old-school phones, many seniors are being forced to learn how to navigate a new smartphone. Touch screens, which are intuitive for younger people, may feel very foreign to older adults and take time to learn to operate. Some smartphones do have an “easy mode” but others will need to be adapted for use by older people who may require larger text, a brighter display, and a pared-down home screen.
According to a recent phoneArena editorial post, learning how to answer a call on a smartphone with a swipe across the screen can be a challenge for seniors used to mechanical buttons on classic phones. Turning off the phone, creating contacts, taking and reviewing photos, and notifications may also present problems for a novice user.
If you are coaching an older person through a smartphone transition that doesn’t come with an easy mode, you can help by bumping up the text size, turning off notifications and for android users – the back button is a new best friend, returning the user to the previous screen without keeping apps running in the background.
Learn more about the top smartphones for seniors by following this link to assistedliving.org.