If you’re purchasing an iPad for an elderly loved one, whether for the holidays or their birthday, one of the best things you can do is set it up before you give it to them. This makes the process of starting to use it much easier for them.
Preparing the iPad with everything from the settings to the apps can give them a huge jumpstart, make it less intimidating and confusing, and also make the gift so much more exciting for them to receive.
Here are our suggestions for setting up an iPad for the elderly before you wrap it up and give it to them.
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- 1 Start with the Home Screen
- 2 Declutter the Dock
- 3 Adjust the Settings
- 4 Prepare Contacts, Messages, FaceTime, and Mail
- 5 Create Their Apple ID
- 6 Grab Some Apps
- 7 Turn On Find My iPad
- 8 Simplify and Set Up Backups
- 9 Are You Ready to Gift the iPad?
Start with the Home Screen
As an iPad or iPhone owner yourself, you know that the Home screens of both devices are packed with apps by default. That right there can be a little intimidating to a new user.
One suggestion is to move or delete apps from the Home screen and replace them with the apps your recipient will use and like the most.
Think about what it is that they will likely use the iPad for each day. Maybe they start their day reading the News, checking the Weather, visiting Facebook, checking their Email, and finishing up with their favorite Music. You can easily have only these apps on the Home screen for them.
One option is to delete those you know for absolute certain they will never use and move the others to another screen.
Declutter the Dock
The Dock is an awesome spot for all iOS device users to access the apps they use most often. And again, simplifying this area of the iPad will be a big help to your recipient.
As you may or may not know, by default the Dock displays suggested and recent apps along with those that you park their yourself. To decrease this clutter, disabling the feature would be a good idea. Just follow these steps:
- Open the Settings
- Tap Multitasking & Dock.
- Turn off the toggle for Show Suggested and Recent Apps from green to white.
This will make the Dock handier for the user and less confusing. If you leave the suggested and recent apps setting enabled, your recipient may wonder why certain apps keep popping up in their Dock. So, disabling the feature can make things cleaner and clearer.
Then, add the apps to the Dock that you feel they should have quick access to such as Messages, Facetime, Mail, Weather, and Calendar, as examples.
Adjust the Settings
The iPad has many features that help those who may be hard of hearing or have a visual impairment. These types of features can also be helpful for seniors. Here are a few settings that you can adjust for them right from the start.
Open the Settings app and select Accessibility. Then, move through the various options for Vision, Interaction, Hearing, and Media. Here are just a few settings that you may consider adjusting.
- VoiceOver: Enabling this feature allows the user to hear items spoken out loud. It will also change the gestures. You can adjust the speed, speech, verbosity, and other settings.
- Zoom: Turning on the Zoom will let the user magnify the screen with simple gestures. This makes the screen larger and easier to see.
- Magnifer: This feature lets the user magnify an item by triple-clicking the Home button. This can be very handy for those who don’t have their reading glasses nearby.
- Increase Contrast: Enabling this option improves readability with color contrast and text changes.
- Assistive Touch: If your recipient will be using an accessory or needs a bit of help with the touch screen, this is a good adjustment to make. They can also quickly access Home, Notifications, Siri, and more.
- Touch Accommodations: If Assistive Touch is too much, but some touch screen help is needed, this is a smart setting to enable. Once you turn it on, you can adjust how the touch screen responds.
- Hearing: If your recipient has a MFi Hearing Device, prefers Mono Audio, or needs a little extra volume boost on either the left or right, you can change these settings under Hearing.
- Subtitles & Captioning: Enable this setting for those who are deaf or have a hearing impairment so that they can view subtitles and captions.
Additional adjustments you might consider making are in Settings > Display & Brightness
- Change the Brightness of the screen or enable Night Shift on a schedule.
- Adjust Text Size for apps that support Dynamic Text.
- Enable Bold Text if you believe it will help readability.
Prepare Contacts, Messages, FaceTime, and Mail
One excellent way for you to stay in touch with your recipient is with that awesome new iPad you’re giving them. So, make sure that they have an easy way to contact you, their friends, and the rest of the family.
Contacts: This is an easy one. Pop open the Contacts app and enter as much information for as many of your loved one’s contacts as you can. You can also set up a Group so that contacting the whole family or the grandchildren is just a tap away.
Messages: Text messaging is one of the handiest ways to stay in touch with friends and family, so make sure that you enable this feature with Settings > Messages > iMessage (enable slider to green).
You might also enable the Show Contact Photos option so that your recipient can see everyone’s faces in Messages. This can be helpful to the user as well as simply a nice touch for the text messaging experience.
FaceTime: While your recipient can easily start a FaceTime call with a contact once you show them how, you can actually get the app ready to make calls. Take a moment and make a FaceTime call with the iPad to yourself or other contacts your recipient will likely call.
Those recent calls will display in the list until they’re deleted. So, when your loved one uses FaceTime for the first time, they can simply tap the contact in the list of recent to calls to start a brand new call.
Mail: This one might be a bit tougher, but if you happen to have access to or know your recipient’s email account information, you can get the Mail app set up for them.
Create Their Apple ID
If your elderly recipient owns an iPhone, then they most likely have their own Apple ID set up. So, if you have access to the login details, be sure to pop them in so that they are ready to download apps from the App Store themselves.
But, if this is their first iOS device, then you may want to set up the account for them so that you can download apps for them to go with the gift. Just remember to explain the Apple ID and App Store process as well as provide their log in credentials.
Grab Some Apps
Assuming you’re able to download apps for your recipient from the App Store, then it’s time for some fun. Think about the types of apps that they will use and enjoy.
Do they love playing games like Mah Jong, Solitaire, Scrabble, Gin Rummy, or word searches? You can download a few games like these that they can enjoy digitally now. And if you play games like Scrabble together, consider others like Word Chums or Words With Friends, especially if they use Facebook too.
Do they enjoy cooking and looking for new recipes? There are tons of great apps in this category that come without a price tag. Take a look at apps like Big Oven, Yumly, or Epicurious.
Would medication reminders help them? You can find a variety of these types of apps on the app store that can track and remind them to take their medications. Some apps include Mango Health, Round Health, and DrugStars: Medicine Reminder.
Are they a sports fan? Apps like ESPN and CBS Sports cover many different types of sports for those who watch them all. But you can also download those for specific sports like NFL, NBA, and MLB At Bat.
Are they an online shopper? If so, then this category on the App Store is loaded. You can download apps from Amazon to Zappos and everything in between. Department stores, discount stores, pet shops, clothing stores, shoe stores, electronics shops…the list goes on.
These are just some thoughts and suggestions. You know your elderly recipient better than anyone, so download a few apps that you know they’ll appreciate before you give the gift.
Turn On Find My iPad
Find My iPad is not just a handy feature for the user, but for you in this situation as well. You can track the location of the iPad and even enable a setting to send the last location if the battery is critically low.
Open the Settings, select the user’s Apple ID, and then do the following.
- Tap iCloud.
- Tap Find My iPad.
- Enable the setting at the top by moving the slider to green.
- Optionally, enable Send Last Location right below.
Simplify and Set Up Backups
Making sure that the device is backed up properly is always a safe bet no matter how old you are or which iOS device you own. So, take a moment to select the apps for the iCloud Backups and make sure the feature is enabled.
Open the Settings, select the user’s Apple ID, and then do the following.
- Tap iCloud.
- Enable or disable apps that you want to use iCloud.
- Scroll down to and tap iCloud Backup.
- Enable iCloud Backup by moving the slider to green.
Now, whenever the iPad is locked but connected to power and Wi-Fi, a backup of the data should be captured on a regular basis.
Are You Ready to Gift the iPad?
These are just several suggestions and tips for setting up that iPad for your elderly friend or family member. There are sure to be many more! Do you have suggestions of your own that you’d like to share? If so, feel free to do so in the comments below!
Sandy worked for many years in the IT industry as a project manager, department manager, and PMO Lead. She then decided to follow her dream and now writes about technology full-time. Sandy holds a Bachelors of Science in Information Technology.
She loves technology– specifically – terrific games and apps for iOS, software that makes your life easier, and productivity tools that you can use every day, in both work and home environments.
Her articles have regularly been featured at MakeUseOf, iDownloadBlog and many other leading tech publications.