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It seems hard to believe, but not that long ago there were no smartphones. In the past 20 years however, the use of smartphones have become a widespread phenomenon. Once they were seen as a luxury, but now they have become a necessity and transformed our everyday life. Over 77% of the U.S. population now own a smartphone, this statistic is likely to increase further in the coming years.
While older people may be hesitant at first to adopt technology, it seems they are also embracing smartphones with 42% of the U.S. population over 65’s now owning one.
Smartphones are extremely useful devices, allowing us to communicate with our friends and family whenever and wherever we go. Without installing apps on our phones however, they would not be as useful as they are. There are millions of different apps that you can install on your smartphones and tablets for all particular needs and interests.
While many of these apps are targeted at a younger audience, there has been a huge surge of applications which have been developed for the senior market. These apps can make life easier for older users.
With so many apps now available for seniors, it can often be rather overwhelming knowing what apps you should install. To save you the time, we have conducted our own extensive research to find you the best essential apps for your Android and iOS devices to suit all your needs.
Best Health Apps
As we grow older, our health often deteriorates, it is a fact of life unfortunately. Whether you have high blood pressure, just want to exercise more or you want a way to track when to take your medication, there is an app for it.
Here are some of the best medical apps that are available for smartphones that have been developed to keep you fit and healthy:
Are you looking for health tips, or are you looking to find out more information about a health condition or ailment that you may be suffering from, or are you simply looking to find a doctor or specialist in your vicinity? If you are, we would recommend that you install the highly-trusted WebMD app that is available for both Android and iOS devices and which is free.
While WebMD will never replace your doctor, and we always recommend that you see your doctor first, it does have a number of useful features including:
- Symptom Checker – looking to find what your symptoms might mean? If you are, enter your symptoms and the app will identify possible health conditions and related treatments.
- Doctor Directory – find doctors and relevant specialists in your local area or search by city, state or zip.
- Drug Interaction Checker – provides information about medication including side-effects, and lists unsafe combinations of prescription medication.
- Medication Reminder – allows you to set-up alerts to remind you when to take your medication. A handy feature that will mean you will never forget to take your daily medication.
- Condition Checker – provides detailed information regarding illnesses and ailments, including symptoms, causes and treatments. This information is written by medical professionals and specialists so the information is reliable.
- WebMD Rx –allows you to find the cheapest prices on your medication therefore helping to save you money.
- Customization & Saving Functionality – allows you to save information regarding your conditions, drugs, doctors, hospitals as well as articles for easy reference.
Available for: iOS
Remembering to take your medication can often be a struggle especially for seniors who suffer with memory loss or who may have to take several different pills and doses throughout the day. Fortunately forgetting to take your daily medication is a thing of the past with the Pillboxie app for iOS devices.
The app allows you to set-up reminders as to when you need to take your medication. It is extremely easy to use, in order to set-up a reminder you simply drop a pill into the virtual pillbox and you then define the schedule including the dosage. The app will then set off an alarm to remind you to take your medication at the relevant time. It will even remind you on time, even if your device is asleep. Once you’ve taken your medication you can check it off as you go.
While Pillboxie is only available for iOS devices, there is a similar app for Android devices called Pill Reminder & Medication Tracker which allows you to set-up reminders to take your pills.
3. Blood Pressure Companion
Cost: Free for iOS and $0.99 for Android
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 3 US adults has high pressure. High pressure can increase the risk of strokes and heart disease which is a major cause of deaths in the US. For these reasons, it is vital to regularly check your blood pressure and keep track of it.
The Blood Pressure Companion app allows you to monitor your blood pressure readings, heart rate and weight. These readings are then plotted on charts allowing you to spot any early warning signs before it’s too late.
4. Yoga Exercises for Seniors
Available for: Android
Cost: Free (with ads)
Practising yoga can be a great way to increase muscle tone and flexibility, improve bone and joint health and it can also be a great mood booster. It is recommended for seniors who may struggle with physical limitations such as osteoarthritis or other painful joint related conditions (source).
If you would like to fit yoga into your exercise routine, you should consider installing the Yoga Exercises for Seniors app. The app provides a number of yoga poses which are designed for users over 50 so you can exercise safely while at home.
Cost: Free (basic course), paid subscription ($12.99/month or $69.99/year)
Reduced mobility and physical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis can impact a user’s quality of life and it can also affect their mental health (source). Loss of mobility amongst seniors is prevalent and depression is more common in later life.
Seniors who suffer with depression can benefit greatly from mediation. A useful app which can help you with your mediation is Headspace.
The app provides guided meditation and mindfulness exercises to help with focus, stress, anxiety, and sleep. There’s a free basic course that will teach you the essentials regarding mediation and mindfulness. There’s also a subscription type service where you can get access to more meditation sessions.
Best Brain Booster Apps
Keeping the mind active in later life is vital. Medical research shows that learning new skills and keeping the mind stimulated can improve cognitive health as we age, it’s as important as staying physically fit. Word puzzles and brain games are not only good fun, but they are a great way to challenge the brain and give your mind a good workout.
Here are some of the best brain games and word puzzle apps that you can try:
Cost: Free (limited number of games), paid subscription ($11.99/month, $59.99/year)
Lumosity is a hugely popular brain training app that is used by over 100 million users worldwide. Its aim is to improve your cognitive skills. There over 40 games that have been designed by scientists to exercise the brain. While the games and puzzles are challenging, they are extremely fun and they will help to test your memory, logic, problem-solving, mathematical and language skills.
While the app may not turn you into an Einstein, it’s certainly a great way to exercise the mind and help keep your brain active which is especially important for seniors.
7. Words with Friends
Cost: Free (with ads)
If you enjoy Scrabble, you’ll definitely enjoy playing Words with Friends. The free app is similar to the classic board game Scrabble. It’s a great way to test your wordsmith skills and help keep your brain active. Players take turns to create a word on the board by placing tiles either horizontally or vertically, to win the game you need to score more points than your opponent.
One of the great benefits of the app over the traditional board game, is the social aspect. You can connect and play against your Facebook friends or you can be paired with a random opponent who could be located anywhere in the world.
Cost: Free (with ads), premium version without ads ($4.99)
Playing Sudoku can be a great way of keeping the old brain box ticking. If you install the Sudoku.com app, you will never need to collect the Sudoku puzzles that are published in the newspapers ever again.
The app has over 5,000 Sudoku puzzles that you can play for free on your Android or iOS phone and tablet. If you’re an expert player, and you really want to exercise your mind, select the expert level, if on the other hand you’ve just started playing Sudoku, select the easy level. If you need to leave a game unfinished, don’t worry, it will auto-save your progress so you can continue playing another time. If you’re stuck on a puzzle, the app will help you out by providing you with useful hints and it will also highlight duplicates.
9. CogniFit Brain Fitness
Cost: Premium subscription ($19.99/month, $119.99/year)
CogniFit is similar to Lumosity in that it’s a brain training game. One of the differences however is it can help to identify your risk of suffering from cognitive impairments or mental illness.
The games have been developed to help improve your memory and cognitive skills such as mental agility, attention, concentration, reasoning and planning. The app is available for both Android and iOS devices.
Best Money Saver Apps
For many retirees, living on a tight budget is often a common occurrence. Fortunately, many retailers offer age-related discounts which can help make your money go further. To find these discounts and offers, there are a range of money saving apps which are available.
Here are some of the best money saving apps for seniors that we recommend you download onto your smartphone:
10. Senior Discounts & Coupons
Cost: Free (with ads)
If you’re looking to save money on your grocery shopping, or at your favourite restaurant or at the cinema then you should install the free Senior Discounts & Coupons app. The app which is available for iOS and Android devices offers special discounts and coupons for senior citizens.
You can search by different categories to find relevant discounts, you can also filter by age for age-eligible discounts. You can also save your favourites so you can use them again when you next shop with the retailer.
If you have to take regular medication for an aliment or illness, you will no doubt know how costly it can turn out to be. If you want to save money on your prescriptions, you may want to consider using the GoodRx app.
The app compares the prices of prescription medicine in a range of different pharmacies to find the best prices near you. It also tries to find coupons to save you money on your medication. Coupons can be used directly from the app so you won’t need to print them out. A useful feature is you can track the prices of your favourite drugs and you can be notified of any relevant savings.
Best Entertainment Apps
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 12.5 million adults over the age of 65 live alone. For many of these seniors, boredom is an all too common problem especially for retirees.
Keeping oneself entertained and busy can be a good way to ward off depression and anxiety.
Here are some of the best entertainment apps for both Android and iOS devices that will help keep you busy and amused:
The Kindle app turns your iPad, iPhone or Android phone into a convenient e-reader allowing you to carry all your eBooks (novels, newspapers, magazines etc) in one device. This means you will always have something to read wherever you go and you won’t need to carry any heavy books with you ever again.
While the Kindle e-reader app is free to install, you will need to download ebooks onto your smartphone or iPad. While some eBooks are free, most will need to be purchased directly from Amazon. Amazon does provide the ability to download a few sample pages allowing you to try the book before deciding to purchase it.
To help reduce eye-strain, the app allows you to enlarge the book’s text and the screen brightness as well as the background color which is extremely useful for visually impaired users.
Cost: Free (subscription service starts at $14.95/month)
Listening to audiobooks can be a great way to pass the time especially for users with impaired vision who may struggle reading a traditional book.
Amazon’s Audible app allows you to listen to thousands of audiobooks using your smartphone. While the app is free, it is a subscription type service. You can however sign-up to Amazon’s 30-day Audible trial where you get one free audiobook, allowing you to try before deciding to subscribe or not.
Enjoy staying up to date with current affairs or reading your favourite magazines or newspapers such as The New York Times, Forbes, National Geographic, etc.? If so, you will want to download the free Flipboard app.
After installing Flipboard, pick topics that you’re interested in such as news, travel, finance, food etc, the app will then create a personalized digital magazine with relevant articles and popular stories from thousands of different publications. Flipboard will automatically update the articles allowing you to read interesting articles when you’re out and about or when you’re home relaxing.
15. AARP Now
If you have an AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) membership, you will want to use the free AARP app.
It helps you stay up to date with the latest news which you can conveniently read from your iPad, iPhone or Android device. You can also check-out any events which occurring locally such as workshops, movie showings and you can register for these directly from your handset. You can also see what local senior discounts and offers you qualify for with your membership saving you time and money.
Stitcher is a free radio and podcast app. Choose what you’re into and Stitcher will recommend exciting new content for you to listen to. You can stream or download podcasts and listen to your favourite internet radio stations from your phone.
Stitcher has over 260,000 podcasts ranging from comedy, politics to sports, so you will never be lost for content, it’s definitely a great way to while away the hours.
Best Accessibility Apps
As we grow older, our vision and mobility may become impaired. Poor vision and physical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis can mean operating a smartphone can prove challenging. These impairments however, should not mean that you have to struggle to use your phone providing that you install the right accessibility apps.
Here are some of the best accessibility apps that can help make your smartphone easier to use as well ones that can help you when you’re out and about:
17. Magnifying Glass + Flashlight
If your eyesight is not what it used to be, and you struggle to read small print, or you often forget to take your glasses out with you, an app which you may want to consider installing is Magnifying Glass + Flashlight App.
The free app turns your device into a handy magnifying glass allowing you to read text that you may have otherwise struggled with such as a restaurant menu, a medicine bottle or a magazine.
To use the app, open it up and hold it over any form of text. Once your phone’s camera auto-focuses on the text, it will appear magnified on your screen allowing you to zoom in from 1.0X – 5.0X. In low light situations the flashlight will automatically come on allowing you to read text clearly even when it is dark.
Available for: Android
Cost: Free (with ads) or premium version without ads $7.99
Users who suffer with arthritic hands or limited hand dexterity will often struggle to use the keyboard on a smartphone. Help is at hand though with the easy to use dictation app Speechnotes.
Simply open the app and click on the microphone icon and start talking. The app will convert it into text allowing you to easily write emails or send a message without having to struggle to use your phone’s keyboard. The app use’s Google’s voice recognition technology so it’s extremely accurate. The app is free to use although ads will be displayed, a premium version without ads is available however for $7.99.
19. BIG Launcher
Available for: Android
Cost: Free demo version with limited features + premium version ($4.99)
While smartphones are extremely useful devices, for the more senior user, they can prove complicated and a challenge to use. The Big Launcher is a simple but useful app that helps to resolve these issues by simplifying and streamlining your handset therefore making it easier to use.
The app increases the size of your icons as well as the text which is particularly useful for users with impaired eyesight or dexterity. It also simplifies the home screen by only showing key apps and hiding any unwanted apps.
Once you have installed the app, you simply need to select your preferred language, the desired text size, and finally the preferred theme. By default the home screen will show six blocks, including Phone, SMS, Camera, Picture Gallery, SOS and All Apps. You do have the option to modify this default layout by adding more apps if required.
20. Flush – Toilet Finder & Map
If you suffer with impaired mobility or you have a disability, finding a restroom when you’re out and about can be a real struggle and a pain.
Flash – Toilet Finder & Map is a simple but invaluable app that will show you where the nearest WC’s are in your vicinity. The app uses your phone’s GPS to find where you’re located and it uses this to find toilets nearby and helps direct you to them.
At the time of writing, the app has a database of over 200,000 restrooms in cities across the world which is regularly being updated by its users. The app provides helpful information about the WC such as whether there is a fee to use it, whether it requires a key and whether it has disabled access. A handy feature is it doesn’t require an internet connection so you will never be caught short again.
For wheelchair users, steps, curbs and other obstacles are a bugbear as they make navigating around a city or town incredibly difficult. Unfortunately, there still exists lots of places that are not wheelchair friendly. Help is at hand though with the Wheelmap app which is available for Android and iOS devices.
The free app displays wheelchair accessible places worldwide such as restaurants, attractions, toilets, shops, transport facilities and much more. Users are able to contribute new wheelchair friendly places as well as rate these. Users can easily filter by certain criteria, such as finding wheelchairs accessible toilets or accessible restaurants.
Best Communication Apps
Seniors who live alone or who struggle to get out, are more vulnerable to social isolation and loneliness. Limited interaction with the outside world can pose serious health risks, it is therefore particularly important for seniors to keep in regular contact with their friends and family.
Here are some of the best communication apps that are cost effective and easy to use that will allow you to stay in regular contact with your loved ones:
WhatsApp is the world’s most popular messaging app with 1.6 billion monthly active users. The app which is available for both iOS and Android devices, allows users to send messages, share pictures and videos and make phone and video calls for free as long as they’re connected to Wi-Fi.
The app also provides the capability to create group chats allowing you to have the whole family or friends in one chat group so you can always stay in contact and keep updated. This free messaging app will definitely help to bridge the gap even if your friends or family live far apart or even overseas.
Like WhatsApp, Skype is a free messaging app. With Skype, you can call, message or video conference your loved ones and friends irrelevant of where they are located in the world. You will never have to worry about long-distance charges again.
With Skype, you can make a call or video conference with multiple users simultaneously which is perfect during special occasions when you may want to get your friends or family together that are maybe located remotely.
Skype can be used on a range of devices including tablets, computers and on smartphones. Skype’s user interface is intuitive so seniors should find it a breeze to use and less intimidating than other messaging apps.
Best Apps to Keep You Safe at Home and Outside
Do you regularly worry about your elderly parents or a loved one? Not sure where they are, if they are ok or why they are not answering their phone?
If you do, you may want to get them to install the following apps to keep them safe:
24. Life360 Family Locator
Cost: Subscription service ($2.99/month, 24.99/year)
Worrying about elderly parents is an all too common problem, are they ok, where are they, have they arrived home safely? If you have these worries, simply get them to install the location-sharing Life360 app on their smartphone. You’ll be able to see in real-time their whereabouts on a private map helping you to keep track of them wherever they go.
Want to be alerted when they leave home or when they arrive back? No problem, simply configure it and you will receive real-time alerts when they arrive or leave certain destinations.
25. Lyft & Uber
Cost: Free (pay as you go service)
Modern technology has revolutionised the way we order a taxi. There’s no need to hail a taxi out on the street or call for one anymore. With apps like Uber or Lyft, you can order one conveniently straight from your smartphone.
To use Lyft or Uber, install the app on your phone and create an account and enter your credit card details and you’re now all set-up. To order a taxi, simply select your destination, the fee for the journey will be shown upfront, and your phones in-built GPS will let your driver know where you are. The app will show you how long before it arrives, as well as the car that they’re driving. Once you’ve reached your destination, your credit card will be automatically charged so you never have to mess about with finding your wallet or credit card to pay the driver.
These hailing apps are extremely convenient especially for seniors who are unable to drive and rely on public transport. Not only can they save you money as they are usually cheaper than regular taxis, but they are much more convenient.
26. Red Panic Button
Cost: Free for basic app ($4.99 for extra features)
Red Panic Button is a simple app that acts as an alert system in case of any emergencies. If the user is in trouble and they want to alert someone, they just need to press the red panic button and the app will send a message requesting assistance (SMS, Email, Tweet) to the designated contact with their relevant location details.
The free app is ideal for anyone with mobility issues who may struggle to get-up in case of any falls or for anyone that may live alone and may require some extra reassurance in case of any emergencies.