How to senior proof an iPhone?

Struggling to get your senior to use their iPhone? Here are tips to senior-proof an iPhone to make it easier to use.

3 min read

As individuals become older, they may have to deal with various health challenges such as declining vision, cognitive impairment, and dexterity issues. These challenges can make it difficult for older adults to use modern technologies like the iPhone. However, with a few adjustments, seniors can effectively harness the latest iPhone features.

You can senior-proof an iPhone by enlarging the icons, simplifying the home screen, increasing the text size, and enabling the zoom feature. You can also set up unique ringtones, fill out the medical ID, use simple passcodes, and buy essential iPhone accessories such as a non-slip cover and headphones to boost user experience.

Why do seniors struggle to use an iPhone?

There are several reasons why older adults may experience difficulty using an iPhone. Some of these reasons are: 

Diminishing vision

Aging can significantly impact the quality of an individual’s vision. Seniors experience eye problems such as trouble focusing, cataracts, reduced contrast sensibility, and macular degeneration. These vision problems make it difficult to use an iPhone, and seniors struggle to read the small texts displayed on the iPhone.

Cognitive decline

Seniors often struggle with cognitive issues, including memory loss, and the problem can be more pronounced in older adults with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Hence, seniors may struggle to recall the actions and gestures required to navigate an iPhone effectively. Plus, it can be difficult for seniors to memorize new information related to iPhone usage, making it difficult to operate the device on their own.

Loss of dexterity

Seniors suffering from arthritis experience stiffness, joint pain, and challenges in hand motions, making it difficult to perform basic iPhone tasks such as swiping and scrolling. In addition, older adults may experience tremors due to specific health conditions, which further complicates their ability to operate an iPhone with ease.

Limited exposure to technology

The new smartphone technology can be overwhelming for seniors who are accustomed to older technologies like landline phones. Also, new smartphone features like virtual assistants and AI can feel intimidating to seniors who may need guidance to understand how they work.

How to senior proof an iPhone

When you understand the difficulties an older adult faces when using an iPhone, it is easy to figure out what tweaks to make to make it easier to use. Here are tips to senior proof an iPhone:

Improve text size

Increasing the text size on the iPhone can help seniors with declining vision to improve readability. To adjust the text size on the iPhone, access the settings, go to display and brightness, choose the text size, and slide it to a more legible text size.

Home screen simplification

Simplify the home screen by removing any unused apps. You can also put all their favorite apps on the first home screen and the least used apps on the other home screens. Decluttering also reduces the frustration of having to scroll back and forth when they need to access an app. In addition, organizing the apps from the most important to the least important helps in memorizing the important apps on the phone. 

Enable zoom

If increasing the font size does not fully solve the problem, you can enable the zoom function on the iPhone. The iOS zoom feature is perfect for seniors who want to magnify the screen or particular areas of the screen by tapping with their fingers. To enable Zoom on an iPhone, access the settings, display, and brightness, scroll, tap on display zoom, select larger text, and then tap done to confirm the change.

Larger app icons

If an older adult still finds it difficult to access apps easily even after decluttering the home screen, you can enlarge the app icons to provide maximum readability and easy use. To enlarge the icons, go to settings on the iPhone, then home screen and dock, and tap on use larger icons. 

Set memorable ringtone

Set up unique ringtones for calls and texts to help seniors identify who is calling. If your loved one has trouble hearing calls or texts, you can set up a classic ringtone that is loud enough for them to hear even when the phone is in another room. You can also set up a special ringtone for specific callers to help them know who is calling beforehand.

Use a simple but secure passcode

Seniors often find it difficult to memorize complex passwords that include a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. A solution to this is creating easy yet secure passcodes to help seniors safeguard their online presence. For example, using biometrics like fingerprints and facial recognition can help seniors verify their identity easily and with confidence. 

Medical ID

A Medical ID provides important information about you that can be used during an emergency. You can help your senior set up their Medical ID, which can be helpful during a medical emergency. It can provide information about any allergies you have, medical conditions, and key people to contact in case of an emergency.

To set up the Medical ID, open the Health app, tap Get Started or Edit, enter the senior's health information, add an emergency contact, and then tap Done. Remember to turn on the Show When Locked tab so that first responders can access the medical information.

Purchase essential iPhone accessories

Some iPhone accessories can make it easy to hold and use an iPhone, especially for seniors. For example, a non-slip cover can improve grip and reduce the likelihood of accidental drops. Some senior-friendly headphones can help address hearing impairments among seniors, ensuring that they engage more comfortably with calls, videos, and audio content.

Add contact photos

Visual phone cues can help older adults effectively recognize who is contacting them. Hence, adding a contact photo is part of senior proofing an iPhone and making it memorable. Furthermore, you can add photos of frequent contacts such as caregivers and close relatives to make them more prominent. When an older adult is experiencing cognitive decline, it is essential to leverage their visual recognition capacity. 


New smartphone technologies can feel overwhelming for seniors. However, with a few tweaks to the iPhone's settings, you can make it easy for seniors to use the iPhone. Simple adjustments like increasing the font size, decluttering the home screen, setting up memorable ringtones, and adding contact phones can enhance a senior's user experience. Remember, senior proofing an iPhone should be about adjusting the phone to fit the user's specific needs.