Brenda Lyle – Hometown News

Q:  I am getting a smartphone. Are they easy for seniors to learn?

A:  Congratulations on your soon-to-be new phone! You are not alone in adopting this essential technology, as smartphone purchases by seniors continue to rise. According to AARP, “62 percent of those 70 and older use smartphones.”  However, a smartphone purchase alone does not mean seniors are maximizing its value. Smartphone owners over 70 are likely to overlook a host of great features available in their device.  Let’s dig a little deeper.

Apple vs. Android

No matter the age group, there is always a lively debate about the ease of use between Apple iPhones and their Android competitors.  The divide is wider among seniors, since Apple has not focused on phones for seniors. Android, on the other hand, has an entire line of products considered “senior-friendly.” In fact, a top five list by tech experts is likely to reveal one iPhone and four androids. But that doesn’t mean you have to buy an android.  Read on!

Using an iPhone easily

Start making your phone easier to use by increasing the font size and adjusting the ringer volume. You can also enable speech commands (“Hey, Siri”) to do a lot of your common tasks, like reading the newspaper headlines or calling your daughter. IPhones can be enabled to have an “SOS” feature and record your medical information as well as notify your emergency contact of an emergency situation. Your iPhone can also help you keep tabs on family members (and your lost phone) through built-in location settings.

Easy Mode

“Easy mode” is available on all of the newer Samsung Galaxy smartphones.  Turning on easy mode allows you to automatically adjust text size and screen contrast.  You also get a simpler home screen with many commonly used apps. Like iPhones, Android phones can be voice-activated. You can also set up an SOS feature on your Android phone, although a third party app is needed to find the location of other family members.


Either phone platform allows seniors to access their favorite social media sites (Facebook, Instagram etc.) as well as their email accounts. Apps to keep track of your medications, blood pressure and even your diet are available for both, along with popular reading and music apps.

Need help? Ask your local phone provider to set up your desired features at the time of purchase.  If a grandkid isn’t handy, check with your local library, senior center or technology club for help using your smartphone.  Best tip?  Take a deep breath and spend some quality time learning — by doing.

One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to, call 321-751-6771 or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging.

Brenda Lyle is a Certified Care Manager and Certified Dementia Practitioner with One Senior Place, Greater Orlando.