by Ellen Blake
What are the best apps for seniors? There are many new technologies available to help simplify our lives that provide practical solutions for those of us approaching retirement age and beyond. What’s difficult is pinpointing which apps will best meet our personal needs.
Why don’t more older adults use apps? Some of my friends shy away from using them, saying they are not comfortable with the technology. I understand that apps can seem a bit intimidating at first. However, as per Nancy Watson, M.Ed from Tech Support for Seniors, with the right support everyone can learn new digital skills at any stage of life. And you might be surprised to find how many apps designed with seniors in mind are super user-friendly and accessible.
Finding the Best Apps for Seniors for Everyday Use
Did you know more than 60 percent of adults ages 65 and older own a smartphone? If you are one of them, I’m guessing you use it every single day. But do you reap all the benefits this little pocket computer has to offer? Smartphone applications can educate, entertain, and even streamline and organize tasks for you. But, with the millions of choices of applications available on your mobile, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. To make it easier to find helpful apps that can truly simplify your everyday life, we created a comprehensive list of those we at 50PlusToday find useful in a variety of categories. Most of those listed below are available for both Android and Apple smartphones.
Humans are social and need connection and communication is especially important for elderly individuals who live alone. Recently, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services described loneliness and isolation as an epidemic in the U.S. Here are some communication apps that can help you stay connected.
WhatsApp is a reliable choice to easily communicate and share information with friends, family, or services. A popular free option to connect with loved ones overseas, it is completely free, in contrast to some cell phone plans which have fees for communications outside the U.S. WhatsApp has texting, audio, and video calling with end-to-end encryption for privacy. It has both a smartphone and a desktop app, so it’s easy to communicate from a variety of devices.
Telegram is another free app that has gained attention recently because it’s incredibly easy to use and includes privacy-conscious features. It lets you access your chats from multiple devices and delivers messages faster than most other applications. Telegram is free and imposes no limits on the size of your media and chats. Finally, this app provides some extra features like the ability to create custom stickers, large font sizes, cloud storage of conversations, and end-to-end encryption.
Zoom, a popular communication app for seniors, is particularly popular among grandparents to visit with grandchildren who live out of state. It’s free for video calls under 40 minutes, allows up to 100 participants on video calls for large family gatherings, and includes fun extras such as virtual backgrounds. Zoom is also used extensively in the professional world to connect colleagues who do not work in the same location.
Facebook Messenger, another free way to connect with friends and family, is a standalone texting app with end-to-end encryption for both one-on-one and group messenger that can also send photos and videos. It includes some fun features such as built-in emojis, stickers, and GIFs. If you already have a Facebook account, you have access to Messenger.
Duolingo, a popular, accessible, and effective language-learning platform helps users learn languages in a fun and interactive way. This platform uses a gamified approach to language education, turning the learning process into a series of lessons and challenges. The app supports a wide range of languages, such as Spanish, French, German, Mandarin, and many more, and covers various language skills, including listening, speaking, reading, and writing. It’s available for free, with the option to purchase a premium subscription for additional features.
Is managing your finances a concern for you? It is for many of us. Financial apps for smartphones provide a convenient and accessible platform to monitor account balances, track expenses, and set budgets without the need to visit physical banks. With robust security features, these apps ensure the safety of your transactions, providing peace of mind. Alerts and notifications help you to stay informed about your financial activities, while features like paperless statements reduce paperwork. Here are several excellent financial apps that make this task more accessible and efficient for older adults.
Venmo is a mobile payment service that allows users to send and receive money easily, often used for splitting bills or paying friends. It includes a social feed feature that displays transactions among friends.
Zelle is a digital payment platform that enables users to send money directly from their bank accounts to others, typically with quick transfers between participating banks. It is commonly integrated into banking apps for seamless transactions.
Apps that help you manage your healthcare and medications more easily are extremely helpful. These apps offer tools for monitoring, management, education, and support and contribute to a more patient-centered and proactive approach to health and wellness. Here are our favorites for older adults.
Medisafe is a great free app for medication reminders, especially for those who take multiple medications at different times of the day. Forgetting to take prescriptions and get refills in a timely manner are significant problems for elderly individuals. Statistically speaking, medication is not taken as prescribed 50 percent of the time, and 20 to 30 percent of new prescriptions are never filled at the pharmacy. With Medisafe, you simply enter your prescriptions and the time to take them. This app creates a visual schedule complete with images of each pill and then sends reminders throughout the day at the appropriate times. It also lets you know if a prescription is running low and even alerts a friend or family member if you missed a dose.
Pillboxie is another excellent app that provides an easy, visual way to remember your meds. A minimum fee is required, and you can easily schedule reminders by dropping pills into a pillbox. It helps remind seniors when to take their medications and even displays reminders on the screen. It also supports multiple reminders and backups in case of an emergency.
The cost of medications is out of control in today’s world and one of the reasons people do not take medications as prescribed is simply that they are often unaffordable. GoodRx is free and helps users compare prescription drug prices at different pharmacies to find the best deals. You can also find coupons that can be used right from the app. Additionally, GoodRx sends alerts when you may be due for a refill or when your medication drops in price.
The Red Cross’s First Aid app gives you the best steps to take in an emergency, from allergic reactions to wound care, and everything in between. It also has a handy “Hospital Finder” feature that uses your location data to tell you the closest ER. First Aid provides life-saving information in a step-by-step format to help you assess health events, determine if additional medical attention is necessary, and provide proper care until a health professional arrives.
Yuka provides a wealth of information for individuals concerned about the ingredients in their foods or cosmetics. Users can scan the barcode of a food item using their smartphone camera, and the app provides a rating or score along with detailed information about the product’s ingredients. If your item receives a low rating, the app generally provides healthier alternatives. The goal is to empower consumers to make informed decisions about the food they consume or beauty products they use by understanding their potential health impact. Yuka is an independent project that does not accept advertising, so its results are considered very reliable.
Lifestyle apps, which provide quick and easy access to many different things, can be extremely helpful. From food delivery to ride-share services to organizing your travel plans, these apps offer a convenient way to access the things they need. Here are some examples:
DoorDash is a food delivery service that is very helpful as it provides a way to effortlessly access a variety of restaurant meals from the comfort of your home. This service is especially beneficial for those with mobility challenges or health concerns. The user-friendly DoorDash app makes the ordering process simple. Additionally, you can explore a diverse range of cuisines and track your deliveries easily. This time-saving and efficient solution also lets you quickly compare prices between different restaurants to ensure you get the best deal possible. Each DoorDash order includes a delivery fee, typically ranging between $1.99 and $5.99, that varies based on the restaurant and demand.
Google Maps – Remember Where You Parked
Have you ever exited the mall, then realized once in the parking lot that you don’t remember where you left your car? I think we’ve all had this type of experience. Your phone can help you out when this happens to you. Many people don’t know that the free Google Maps – Remember Where You Parked feature is included in Google Maps. After you park your car, simply open the Google Maps app and tap the blue dot, which indicates your current position. Then, hit “Save Your Parking (On iOS, it’s called “Set as Parking Location”.) from the menu that pops up and the location of your vehicle will be saved. When you are ready to head back to your car, click the blue “Directions” icon and choose “Saved Parking.”
Dashlane is a free password manager and digital wallet designed to simplify online security. This mobile app allows you to access your passwords, secure notes, and other stored information on the go. It also includes features like autofill for forms and the ability to generate and save passwords directly from your mobile device. The synchronization between the mobile app and other Dashlane applications (such as desktop or browser extensions) ensures a seamless and secure experience across different platforms. It’s difficult to remember all your passwords, and it’s not a good idea to use the same one for all your accounts, which makes this app a tremendously helpful one.
Snapfish is a photo printing and sharing service that allows users to create personalized photo products. With this app, you can upload, store, and share your photos directly from your smartphone. You can order a wide range of customizable photo products, including prints, photo books, cards, calendars, and various gifts. The Snapfish app is handy for those who want to turn their digital memories into tangible keepsakes. The user-friendly interface and mobile accessibility make it convenient for individuals to manage and order their photo products on the go. We take more pictures these days than ever, but so many of our photos never leave the digital world. Snapfish provides an easy way to get the images off our phones.
Uber and Lyft
Uber and Lyft are rideshare apps that connect passengers with drivers who provide transportation services using their personal vehicles. These apps offer a convenient and often more affordable alternative to traditional taxis. Users typically request rides through the app, and nearby drivers receive these requests. Payment is generally made electronically through the app. These rideshare services are extremely helpful for older adults who cannot drive or don’t have access to reliable public transportation. With Uber and Lyft, you can book a ride quickly and easily, making it easier to run errands to visit the doctor. Both services offer senior discounts.
Tripit is a travel organization app that helps users keep track of their travel plans, all in one place. It streamlines the process of managing travel itineraries, reservations, and other trip-related information. The app scans your email address for confirmations, or you can forward those confirmation emails to a designated TripIt email address, and the app automatically organizes the information into a comprehensive itinerary. There is a free version and a pro version.
Amazon Music is a music streaming service provided by Amazon, offering a range of subscription plans to cater to different user preferences. With the free version, you have access to a vast library spanning various genres. The best part – there are no commercials! All you need is an Amazon account to access Amazon Music, and the platform is compatible with various devices, including smartphones, tablets, computers, and smart speakers, providing great flexibility in accessing your favorite music and audio content. Amazon Music is one of the best entertainment apps for the elderly.
Headspace is a mindfulness and meditation app for beginners. With both a free and upgraded version available, this app is simpler than many other meditation apps. It offers content aimed at helping users manage stress, improve focus, and enhance overall mental well-being. Headspace provides guided meditation programs of varying lengths, sleep sounds, breathing exercises, and relaxation techniques.
Best Free Workout Apps for Seniors
Regular physical activity, while essential throughout our lives, becomes especially important for us as we age. Exercise can benefit our overall health and well-being, and help improve our mood, flexibility, balance, and strength. Free workout apps offer accessible and convenient fitness options, allowing users to access a variety of exercise routines without the need for expensive gym memberships. This often makes it easier for individuals to customize their fitness routines according to their preferences and goals. Here are some of the best free workout apps for seniors.
The Google Fit app is a health and fitness tracking app developed by Google. This app helps users monitor their physical activity, set fitness goals, and track various health metrics. It can collect data from various sources, including smartphone sensors and compatible fitness devices which provide users with an overview of their daily activity, such as steps they took, and calories burned. Two particularly notable features are the app’s ability to measure and check both your heart rate and respiratory rate using your phone’s camera. Simply go to the app, tap Check your heart rate, be sure the flashlight is turned on, and place your finger on the rear-facing camera. Hold still, and within a minute, you’ll have a report of your heart rate. It’s just as easy to check your respiratory rate using the front-facing camera. Lots of other features, too; no smartwatch is required!
Map My Walk
MapMyWalk, developed by Under Armour, is a fitness-tracking app designed for those who enjoy walking. Using GPS technology, the app records and maps walking routes, providing information on distance, duration, pace, and calories burned during your walk. Beyond basic tracking, this app enables users to set fitness goals, connect with friends for social motivation, and access various training plans. MapMyWalk also offers audio cues to remind you to stay hydrated and keep up your pace.
Nike Training Club (NTC)
The Nike Training Club app is a comprehensive fitness app that provides users with a variety of workouts, training plans, and exercise routines. It covers a range of activities, including strength training, cardio, yoga, and more. This app is known for its dynamic and diverse workout content for all fitness levels, often featuring guidance from professional trainers and athletes. Nike Training Club aims to offer a personalized and engaging fitness experience, often incorporating audio and visual guidance to help you achieve your fitness objectives.
Yoga Studio is perfect for seniors seeking to improve their flexibility, balance, and breathing. With more than 70 ready-made classes for all experience levels, this class is wonderful for health-conscious individuals either looking to begin their yoga journey or take it to an all-new level. All the classes come with full HD video and clear and easy-to-follow teacher commentary.
Best Game Apps for Older Adults
Game apps are not all for younger users! Those designed for seniors offer a range of engaging and entertaining options. These apps often include brain training games, card and board games, trivia quizzes, and puzzles, providing mental stimulation and enjoyment. Some have features such as larger fonts, user-friendly interfaces, and adjustable difficulty levels to accommodate the unique needs of older adults. Using these game apps is an excellent way to exercise your brain, stay active, and have fun. There are lots of game apps available for your smartphone, but here are a few we enjoy most.
Sudoku, a classic logic puzzle that helps improve cognitive functioning, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills, is available for your smartphone. You can choose puzzles based on your skill level. This excellent brain game requires you to fill a grid with numbers so each row, column, and section contains all the digits between one and nine.
Popular with word lovers, Wordle is a fun game that helps you improve memory and concentration. The Wordle interface displays a grid of letters for players, who then try to make as many words as possible by linking the letters together. Download for free on your smartphone.
Hearts Game offers a user-friendly and free online Hearts card game, ideal for seniors. Its full-screen, customizable interface makes it accessible and enjoyable, promoting cognitive health and mental agility through strategic gameplay. This platform is perfect for seniors seeking entertainment that also serves to keep their minds sharp and engaged. Not sure how to play hearts? Learn how here.
Solitaire, the card game that never gets old is perfect for everyone from beginners to experienced players. These free entertaining game apps offer entertainment and cognitive stimulation, and the rules are easy to learn. Solitaire is a single-player game that requires strategy and critical thinking, and many solitaire apps also include adjustable difficulty levels, allowing you to tailor the game to your skill and comfort levels. Additionally, the convenience of playing solitaire on smartphones or tablets makes it a portable and easily accessible pastime. The apps typically feature larger card designs and easy-to-use interfaces, making them accessible to those with various levels of technological familiarity.
Best Apps for Seniors with Dementia
Older adults with early-onset dementia or Alzheimer’s can benefit in various ways from apps geared specifically toward them. These apps, designed to be easy to use and understand, provide cognitive stimulation, social connection, entertainment, and more. They can help seniors manage their day-to-day activities, and many have features that allow family members to remotely monitor their loved ones.
Lumosity is a popular brain training app designed to improve cognitive abilities through a series of games and exercises. This app is known for its focus on enhancing skills such as memory, attention, problem-solving, and processing speed. The evidence-based training sessions offer daily workouts tailored to meet the needs of each user.
MindMate provides activities and games to stimulate cognitive function, including memory games, puzzles, and music features. It is designed to be user-friendly and keep your mind sharp. Based on world-leading science, this app offers games designed to challenge the four core cognitive areas: problem-solving, speed, memory, and attention. It is great for individuals who make healthy aging a priority, anyone living with memory problems like Alzheimer’s or Dementia, and those with a family history of cognitive decline.
My House of Memories
The My House of Memories app is an easy-to-use platform that encourages you to explore objects from the past and share memories together. It can be used by anyone but was designed for, and with, people living with dementia and their caregivers.
AmuseIT is a stimulating and helpful app for caregivers, family members, and friends that supports connection and communication with individuals living with dementia. It offers over 1000 simple quizzes with a strong visual component, has many topics to select from, and has an intuitive user interface. Finishing a quiz is not the goal; the goal is to encourage conversation and have fun.
There are many apps for seniors that cater to a range of needs, designed to enhance our daily lives and overall well-being. Apps such as those listed above offer enjoyable activities, promote health, wellness, connectedness, and financial fitness, and provide convenient and efficient solutions to simplify our lives. There is something for everyone, and new ones are created every day.
Upcoming mobile app trends in 2024 we expect to see include the integration of immersive AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) technologies, in addition to more with AI (artificial intelligence). More voice-enabled apps will likely rise in popularity too, to provide hands-free and intuitive interactions. Finally, as concerns about safety and data privacy continue to soar, mobile apps focused on enhanced security features will become even more prominent. Stay tuned for updates in our list of best apps for seniors as we continue to experience improvements in technology. We will add to these lists regularly.
If you enjoy using an app that we did not include in this post, please add it in the comment section below. We would love to hear from you!