The computer flight-control systems that NASA used to help Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin land on the Moon in 1969 have nothing on the smartphone in your pocket or the iPad in your purse. In fact, the computers that allowed Apollo 11 and its crew to do the unthinkable are downright weak compared to the devices practically every American carries with them today.
How Seniors Use Smartphones and Tablet Apps
- Keep their minds active and engaged
- Stay connected with friends and family
- Keep abreast of news and world events
- Set reminders for physician appointments and to take medicines
- Pay bills online
- Get quick, to-the-point medical information
- Listen to their favorite music
- Stay well read
- Easily take and save notes
- Be entertained
Top Apps for Seniors: Compatible for Android, iPhone and iPad
No one application has all of these features, but the right collection of apps can turn your phone or tablet into a small, light machine that can do all of the above and more.
Approximately half of Americans over 65 own a smartphone or tablet according to a Pew Research study published in 2014, and this figure continues to grow. With this in mind, Keystone Technologies has compiled eleven essential apps for seniors that are available for both Android and Apple devices, and that will help seniors make the most of the technology that they carry with them.
Here are 11 essential apps every senior should have:
1. Lumosity: Evidence shows that seniors who keep their minds challenged and their brains active mitigate their risk for Alzheimer’s disease and related forms of dementia. Health claims aside, many puzzle-lovers enjoy Lumosity just for the fun it provides. Lumosity is an ideal app for seniors, is continuously being updated with new puzzles and brain games, and is a great addition to any senior’s cell phone or tablet.
2. Skype: Skype revolutionized the world of video conferencing. Seniors with a smartphone or tablet and Skype installed can talk face-to-face with their grandchildren no matter where they are in the world, fostering the social connectedness that we know is crucial to wellbeing as we age. Skype also supports voice-over-internet telephone and instant messaging for free or very low cost.
3. Prismatic: Prismatic is the only news app a senior needs. News stories from a wide variety of publishers are accessible through an attractive, easy-to-use interface. The stories presented are based on the user’s stated interests, and the app also learns the types of stories the app’s user likes based on articles that have been previously read using the app. One reviewer said, “Prismatic absolutely has an amazing aggregation algorithm. It will get you the news you are interested in, every day. It’s one of my favorite apps.”
Download our guide on improving quality of life and quality of care in senior living by keep residents connected.
4. Medisafe: Despite their best efforts, even seniors without memory problems can have a hard time keeping track of their medicines or fully complying with a treatment plan. Medisafe is a robust tool that seeks to help older adults manage their medications, set reminders, and create status reports about how well they have stuck to their medication regimen. At the same time, Medisafe takes privacy extremely seriously, and you can be confident that your personal medical information is safe and secure.
5. Mint Bills & Money (Android Link | Apple Link): Mint Bills and Money can help keep you from ever missing a bill again. Its publishers explain that it’s an “app that stays on top of your bills and money for you. Just set it up once and the app goes to work—proactively staying on top of your bills and monitoring your bank accounts and credit cards, all in one place.” You can even pay your bills right from the application.
6. WebMD: No app can replace a physician, but for medical information in the digital age, there is no name as trusted as WebMD. You can ask the app questions, which it responds to with highly relevant articles written by physicians who are specialists in the topic in question. It allows you to browse high quality articles, and even get updated information about how current weather conditions may impact your health (for example, through reports on air quality and pollen levels).
7. Spotify (Android link | Apple link): Spotify puts tens of millions of songs at your fingertips. There’s a free version which plays commercials occasionally, or you can listen to music commercial-free with a $10 per month premium version. The app, also available in desktop version, allows you to share music with friends, save your favorite songs and albums, and create your own “radio stations” based on your favorite music.
8. Kindle (Android link | Apple link): Kindle is a tablet in its own right, but it’s also an app available for Android and Apple tablets. Tablets are wonderful reading tools, and there’s no shortage of books (upwards of 3.4 million) that you can download and read with Kindle. Many of them are even available at no cost.
Older adults with vision problems may appreciate the Kindle because of its accessibility features: you can enlarge the text, adjust the screen brightness, and set it for night mode (white text on a dark background). And there’s no need to keep a dictionary with you even when reading a challenging book, as clicking on a word pulls up its dictionary entry.
9. Audible: The aforementioned vision problems that seniors can be prone to make audiobooks a great option for the voracious reader. Audible is the foremost source of audio books online, with over 180,000 titles available. Seniors looking for a free alternative to audiobooks from Audible can also try LibriVox (Android link | Apple link), which provides thousands of audiobooks read by volunteers.
10. Evernote: Recipes, grocery lists, ideas for the Great American Novel… In the information age, one no longer has to sort through multi-colored Post-its, old notebooks and scraps of paper to find what you’re looking for, or to jot down a note. Evernote is a versatile app that unifies all your notetaking into one system that syncs across all your devices so you can, for example, write a shopping list on your iPad at home, and read it at the grocery store on your Galaxy phone. As PC Magazine put it, “Evernote lets you create all kinds of electronic files—text files, images and photos, audio or voice memos, and videos—and gives you access to them through a variety of interfaces.”
11. Words with Friends: Words with Friends is similar to the popular board game, Scrabble. Players can challenge their friends and family, however distant they might be. This lets them play a mentally engaging game while at the same time having fun and staying social. Its widespread popularity means finding a game is never any trouble.
Empowering Senior Living Residents to Stay Connected
One of Keystone’s main endeavors is enabling older adults who live in senior communities to have access to the kinds of features the apps we listed provide, and more. To that end, Keystone Technologies has developed Keystone Connect, a system that senior living communities can adopt that provides all of their residents the tools they need to stay connected, informed and entertained—whether or not they have a smartphone or tablet, and regardless of their computer skills.
When searching for a senior housing solution, families and seniors should strongly consider those that are technologically up-to-date. This is a major factor promoting connectedness in the 21st century—especially as more and more computer-literate boomers retire and move into senior communities.
What are your favorite smartphone or tablet apps? What other apps should be on our list? Let us know in the comments below.