This is a tip for adult children whose parents or other older relatives use a smartphone, but anyone can try out these maintenance tasks on their own device.
“The first thing I do is check what I call the check engine lights,” says Abby Ritchie, founder and CEO of tech support. Senior savvy. “I’m looking for the red notification badges, especially in the Settings app.”
Apple and Google release regular small updates and big annual updates for their smartphone operating systems, iOS and Android. Don’t avoid it, even if you’re worried about adding confusing new features. They often include major security patches and bug fixes. If you perform a major OS update, take some time to walk them through the look and new options.
Set the phone to automatically turn on software updates in the future.
Delete and reorganize apps
Go page by page and ask your parents what they use and don’t use – you’ll be surprised how many installed apps we don’t remember. Delete anything that looks suspicious, deceptive, or confusing.
Bring the apps they use the most to the first screen on their device. Ritchie recommends placing its four most used apps in the dock at the bottom of the screen and placing any other large apps in the top left or right corner. Move any apps they don’t use often but useful to in clearly defined folders, then store those folders on the last page of the home screen.
Ask them if there’s anything they want to do on their phone but can’t, such as online banking. Install new apps if they need it, but keep it simple and walk them through setting up anything that needs to be logged in. Type any new passwords!
Make the screen easier to see
Our eyesight deteriorates as we age, and even a larger phone can be difficult to read. Smartphones are full of files Access settings You can dive into it, but to get started, let’s make everything a little bigger and brighter.
In the settings, increase the text size and make it bold. You can turn on a setting like Zoom in Display in iOS, which makes everything a little bigger across the board. Finally, flip the brightness all the way up and show them how to control it themselves. Try switching between light and dark modes and see if it’s easier for them to see.
Ritchie also suggests giving your parents more time before locking their phones. Instead of 30 seconds or 1 minute, press the auto-lock for 3-5 minutes.
Turn on emergency and health settings
Add any medical conditions and allergies to the phone’s built-in emergency settings. On your iPhone, go to Medical ID in Health Settings. On your Android device, you can go to the Security and Emergency settings. Add emergency contacts, including people who live near them as well as immediate relatives. Make it so that this information can be viewed in an emergency, even if the phone is locked.
Many smartphones have health monitoring options built in. On the iPhone for example, you can turn on notifications for the stability of walking, which may be useful for avoiding falls in the future. If they want you or someone else to be more involved in their health, you can set up Health Information Sharing.
If you are worried about your parents Falling into misinformation Or, going extreme online, you can make some small changes to make things better. Choose a reputable news outlet or app and move it to a prominent place on the home screen. Both Apple News and Google News do a decent job of including a wide range of trustworthy news sites. Put a shortcut to a fact-checking site like Snopes on their home screen so they can quickly check out any stories or social media posts they come across. Browse their social media accounts with them, if they let you. Ask if you can unfollow any Pages or influencers who trade misinformation or advertising.
Older people are a common target for scammers. You can tweak some settings to reduce attempts. We guide you through them all over here, But start by sending unknown calls directly to voicemail (Settings → Phone → Silencing Unknown Callers on iPhone), filtering texts from unknown senders and turning on any spam filters or detection offered by your phone or cellular carrier.
Browse their friends lists on Facebook and Instagram and get rid of any fake accounts, including people they don’t know and accounts that imitate others. You can find more settings to change on their smartphones and Messaging apps here.
Check their subscriptions
Make sure they don’t pay for anything by accident, like the app they signed up for or a scammy ‘tech support’ service. go through Android or iOS subscriptions First, ask them if they want to review their last bank statement.
Turn on automated backups, especially for photos. If they have a full phone, you can set it to delete photos or videos from the device to free up some space. If their device is lost, stolen, or crashed, all their data and memories will still be ready for use. You can find more storage instructions for Google Drive here And the iCloud from Apple is here.
Navigating around the smartphone screen can be more difficult as people lose dexterity and their eyesight worsens. Android and iPhone have great built-in shortcuts that can help seniors: voice assistants. Learn how to activate Siri or the Google Assistant, and jot down a list of starting commands so they get used to, like dictating a text.
Let your parents show you what they need
“I always ask my clients, ‘Show me what you mean,'” Ritchie says. “Something that’s difficult to explain to you over the phone can be made more clear by having them walk you through the process. For example, Ritchie had one client who struggled to send text messages. It turns out that they They were holding their finger on the send arrow for too long, accidentally showing the special effects option in messages.
If your parent is dealing with any kind of cognitive decline, you can discuss using stronger controls on their devices so you can access or block things remotely. You can also ask them to share your logins and passwords, or store them somewhere easily accessible. This should be done with their consent and full understanding of what you can access.
Write down every new thing you say to your parents so they have something to point out. If you live a long way from providing ongoing tech support, find a trusted local computer store that makes home calls, or soon hire another tech expert. Richie says to be ready for more phone calls and questions, and that’s okay.
“Be fully prepared because they may need you to show them how to do it over and over with love.”