How to make mobile devices friendly for elderly individuals?

Mobile devices and elderly individuals

People and their lifestyle have remarkably changed over the last couple of decades. Gadgets and technologies have replaced the traditional way of life. From reading the latest news to being in touch with loved ones, the younger generation today feel handicapped without these technologies around. Smartphones and tablets being their lifeblood.

But, do these technologies and mobile devices occupy the same space in the lives of elderly or aged individuals? The answer may be – ‘No’ and there may be several reasons for this:

  1. Difficulty in using tablets and Internet– Elderly people face numerous obstacles in using mobile devices. It could be the touch-enabled impractical device screens that require precise touch inputs or the small keypads for typing. Extensive mobile settings and complicated application installation/configuration processes could also add to the difficulty for the elderly individuals.
  2. Aptitude – For older people, smartphones and tablets seem more of a young person’s tool and part of millennial trends. This psychological barrier discourages elderly from giving this technology a fair try.
  3. Weak memory– Use of technology requires recognizing and memorizing numerous things like icons, username, passwords, URLs, navigational steps etc. Despite repetitions and being educated multiple times, elderly people tend to forget specific navigational steps, login credentials etc.
  4. Physical disability– Most of the elderly individuals develop some form of vision or hearing related complications. Neuropathy is also common which cause the distorted experience of touch. These age-related functional difficulties can cause elderly people to become shaky and unsteady. This makes them unable to use touch sensitive interface effectively and also obstructs them from browsing through responsive and dynamic apps/websites.
  5. Insecurity– Operational challenges, unknown technologies and lack of technical know-how make the older population feel insecure while using a smartphone or a tablet. For example, most of the elderly individuals are not comfortable with online financial transactions as they don’t feel that their bank details are safe online.
  6. Technology more focused to younger users – Tech developers want to keep themselves focussed on youngsters as they are the key players in technology consumption. Lack of attention to age factors during application development and a handful of existing mobile technology supporting elderly population have further reduced chances of mobile device adoption among elderly individuals.

One might wonder why it is so important to make tablets usable for elderly people. According to a report published in 2013 by UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund), over 11% of the global population are above 60 years. 11% of humanity being left behind from the benefits of mobile technology is a good enough reason to not overlook.

Old age could be much more comfortable with friends and relatives on social networking platforms, doorstep delivery of essential groceries and food, video chatting with beloveds among others.

Now, the challenge is how to make these technologies work well for elderly. Some recommendations are as below:

  1. Inculcate Aptitude– People above a certain age learn technology only because of a fear of getting left behind. This approach alone is not enough to persuade elderly to be tech-savvy. Family members must motivate and build confidence in them.
  2. More old age friendly devices– According to a study done by the University of Stavanger, a 90-year-old person not suffering from Dementia can easily use an iPad if it is tailor-made to the user. So, there is a need for tablets made for elderly individuals in particular, which should also be enabled for easy use by configuring it with friendly features and functions like voice commands.
  3. Introducing things gradually– It might not be a good idea to overwhelm them with lots of new technical processes which are unknown to them. Advanced functions like downloading and deleting apps, downloading pictures and videos should be followed by basics like closing and opening apps, using fingers on screen etc.
  4. Use of stylus rather than fingers– Use of stylus with sponge grip would be a great idea for people having neuropathy problems. The average cost of these styluses could be as less as $15.
  5. Use of Lockdown solutions on smartphones and tablets– Solutions like SureLock can lock/hide all the unwanted applications and browsers on a device. Only selected apps are allowed to function on the devices. This minimalistic lockdown environment lowers the chances of users getting confused with multiple websites, browsers, and apps.
  6. Use of MDM solutions– MDM solutions like SureMDM enable mobile devices to be controlled and monitored remotely. These remote features allow elderly individuals to get instant help and guidance when they are stuck or in need of navigational assistance while using the device.

Few changes in mobile devices functionalities, implementation of old-age-friendly features, use of mobile device management solutions and unhurried well-paced introduction to advance mobile functions can help elderly individuals embrace mobile technology and benefit from all the comfort and convenience that it offers.

To read more about SureMDMclick here.

To read more about SureLockclick here.


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