According the Pew Research Center, 4 out of every 10 seniors now own a smartphone, more than double the amount who did so in 2013. As that number continues to grow, developers are creating more and more mobile applications – apps for short – that cater to the unique needs and interests of older adults.
Beyond those you may already be familiar with, like Facebook and Skype, there are hundreds of innovative apps that make life easier, provide extra safety and security, and some that are just plain fun. We’ve curated a list of our favorite mobile apps below.
In a 2015 survey, about a third of older adults said they felt “only a little” or “not at all” confident when using computers, smartphones or other electronic devices. It can be intimidating to ask for help with a new device, but there are plenty of YouTube tutorial videos to help get you started:
- This video from AppFind is a complete beginners guide to the iPhone 7. The video is nearly 2 hours long, but is broken down into chapters so you can skip ahead, or easily re-watch a segment.
- This playlist from Tech with Brett features 8 videos about Android use for beginners, each around 10 minutes long. He demonstrates using the Samsung Galaxy S8 phone, but the buttons and features are very similar on other phones that use Android, like the Galaxy Note, Google Pixel and LG G7.
Helpful Smartphone Apps
AHRQ Question Builder
Have you ever felt rushed through a doctor’s visit, only to remember during the car ride home about an important question you wanted to ask? This app from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) helps you organize your thoughts ahead of time to maximize the time you have with your doctor. You can even snap photos of your insurance card, prescription bottle labels or a worrisome skin rash to refer to later.
Medisafe Pill & Med Reminder
The Medisafe app can help make sense of a complicated medication regimen. Get reminders to take your meds, be notified when your prescriptions are running low, and get an alert if you add a new prescription that interacts with another drug you’re taking. You can even add a “Medfriend” – a family member or caregiver who will be sent an alert if you miss a dose.
We have all heard about, and maybe even experienced, rising prescription drug prices. This can especially put a strain on people who have high-deductible insurance plans, or who don’t yet qualify for Medicare Part D. Good RX helps you easily compare drug prices and discounts among pharmacies in your area, and even lets you download coupons for up to 80% off the cash price. Be aware that these coupons aren’t valid if you’re on Medicare or Medicaid, but it might be a good idea to compare your prescriptions anyway to see if Good RX can save you money.
Be My Eyes
Be My Eyes is a free app that connects blind and low-vision people with sighted volunteers for visual assistance through a live video call. This unique service can be used for all kinds of assistance – from help reading labels on household products, to identifying expiration dates on food packages.
Senior Safety App
Cost: Free for SOS alerts, $45/year subscription for advanced safety alerts.
Senior Safety App is the most comprehensive SOS alert app we found in our research. You can use it to quickly reach your emergency contacts if something is wrong, and it even sends them your real-time GPS location. The paid version uses your phone’s built-in motion sensors to detect and call for help if you’ve accidentally fallen or if you’ve been inactive for an unusually long amount of time. The only downside to this app is that it’s currently only available for Android devices.
The ShopWell app will become your grocery shopping buddy. Set up a personal Food Profile – based on your dietary preferences, allergies, age, and gender – then scan the barcode of any product to see whether it’s a good fit for your goals, or if there’s a better choice you can swap for.
LibriVox Audio Books
Smartphones are an endless source of entertainment to help guard against boredom. Audiobooks and podcasts are especially popular, but subscription services can be costly. LibriVox is a completely free library of over 24,000 audiobooks in the public domain, read and recorded by volunteers.
Old Time Radio
Take a trip back in time to the Golden Age of Radio, when radio dramas like Dragnet, Gunsmoke and Jack Benny dominated the airwaves in the ‘40s and ‘50s. These two similar apps for iPhone and Android each offer free streaming of some of your nostalgic favorites.