Family tech support on an Apple Watch - older parent

Hi everybody,

Looking for some advice on setting up an Apple Watch for my older mother in law. My wife is hoping to her mother up with an Apple Watch, largely for fall detection and GPS tracking. She does not have an iPhone, but does use an iPad.

We have her set up on our family account, and would set up her watch to use without a phone managed by me on our family account.

But here is the question: she lives quite far away. After setting up the watch, will I be able to manage it without having a Bluetooth connection to the watch? I think that she can do software updates without a phone, but can I do other things to manage it through iCloud, or do I need a direct connection?

Anybody with experience managing a Watch on a family account that they can share?



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You need Bluetooth access. I tried setting up fpr my mom without it, and nope.

You might be better off with one of the dedicated alert services. Medicare covers it in some states.

That’s what I was afraid of. She’s visiting now, so I could set her up. But would not be able to do any further management from afar, it seems.

I don´t know about the budget, you want to spent into that, but if she could handle a iPad, she will be fine with an iPhone, too.
And to do the settings with the Watch, she needs only a iPhone with a supported version, depending on the Watch.
Here are the latest combinations:

  • Apple Watch Series 6 und Apple Watch SE: iPhone 6s / iOS 14
  • Apple Watch Series 7: iPhone 6s / iOS 15
  • Apple Watch Series 8: iPhone 8 / iOS 16

All mentioned iPhones could be bought refurbished or used, and should be enough, to handle the problem, and then be switched off, and stowed until the next time.

The issue is that remote use of the iPhone is not impossible, but not something I’d want to do. I use an ancient iPhone 6s, no longer supported as of iOS, for my mom’s watch. Her phone is WifI only, no sim card, and it deals with the watch and HomePod Minis fine.

I used a separate iPhone for Mom, even though I live with her, in case I am no longer caring for her, so a sibling or friend could still help her. She’s not up to managing the phone or the watch on her own.