If there’s one thing the oldest living generations hate more than being called “old” or “elderly,” it’s assuming they can’t figure out modern technology.
Many retired seniors are well-adjusted to advancing technology.
A Google study in 2021 found that 86% of seniors spend six hours a day exploring digital technologies and that 61% (of those 65 and older) own a smartphone.
They don’t even have to worry about screen-time notifications on their mobile device.
Even the concept of apps for older adults could induce eye-rolls among tech-savvy seniors, but the world of apps for seniors is now available in a wide range of categories, from entertainment to health optimization.
- What Kind of Apps Do Seniors Use Most?
- What to Look for in Apps for the Elderly
- 11 Best Apps for Seniors That Are Engaging and Fun
- 1. Impulse Brain Training (Free with in-app purchases only for iOS 13 or newer)
- 2. Red Cross Emergency App (Free for Android and iOS)
- 3. Vera Music (Free with paid plan options for Android and iOS)
- 4. Official Medicare App (Free for Android and iOS)
- 5. Funbridge (Free with in-app purchases for Android and iOS)
- 6. UCLA Mindful App (Free for Android and iOS)
- 7. Oculus Apps (Per-Game Charge available on Android and iOS with a Facebook account and free Oculus App)
- 8. Down Dog Yoga (Free version with paid monthly or yearly plan available on Android or iOS)
- 9. Mighty: Health Coach for 50+ (Free version with membership options for Android and iOS)
- 10. Stitch (Free for Android and iOS)
- 11. Amazon Prime Reading (Free with Amazon Prime memberships for individuals or families)
- Final Thoughts
What Kind of Apps Do Seniors Use Most?
Those 55 and older use apps for practical purposes but haven’t lost interest in having fun. The pandemic pushed many seniors into isolation, which fueled increased digital connections.
This might have been done to their dismay or to their delight.
Seniors use digital apps for three main reasons, according to a 2020 Google study:
- To Stay Connected to Loved Ones – 91%
- To Organize Their Finances – 87%
- To Be Healthier in Food and Fitness – 73%
In 2021, a health aging poll found that nearly 1/3 of people 50 and older use a mobile health app, with most using the app for exercise.
Even back in 2019, an AARP study showed that 44% of 50+ Americans played video games at least once a month.
That means nearly nine million people over the age of 50 are likely to be Candy Crushing you.
What to Look for in Apps for the Elderly
When trying to find apps for older adults, you should look for topics or niches that interest them.
You can always adjust a modern device to have larger text or better audio for age-related sensory issues, but you should start with their interests and pair them at a level that matches their skill sets.
Of course, a sprite 55-year-old will get different app options than a 75-year-old struggling to remember grandkids’ names.
A few things to consider:
- SAFETY: Seniors who grew up in a Pong turned Pac-Man turned Sonic world can figure out a game, but they might not realize the increasing risk of in-app purchases, allowing ad tracking, and giving personal information in an app. Start training with overall safety guidance.
- INTERESTS: Cater apps to what the seniors like (or liked) doing. Isolation and limited mobility took some of those hobbies away, yet the app world allows for skiing, global museum tours, and fitness for those 50+.
- SHHH: Don’t tell your favorite 50+ friends that you have an app for “old” people, as 55% of them dislike that branding. You don’t even need to mention it’s an Alzheimer’s app. You can simply explain this is an app to pique their interest or meet their wants and needs.
Don’t dismiss Virtual Reality (VR) games and apps. Senior care programs are booming with VR headsets, and even the Meta VR version is rather easy to use once you’ve had some time to play.
Just because they might not play the way YOU play doesn’t mean it won’t engage their mind and lift their spirits.
Also, by introducing this technology, you’re paving the way for better technology when you get “elderly” (see, you won’t like that title either!).
11 Best Apps for Seniors That Are Engaging and Fun
We’ve skipped past the obvious choices like the AARP family of apps and hand-tested each one of these apps for maximum enjoyment, usefulness, and cyber safety.
1. Impulse Brain Training (Free with in-app purchases only for iOS 13 or newer)
A brain-teasing memory-testing bag of tricks into one app that actually makes you feel smarter instead of disappointed. Nearly 280,000 users have given this app a 4.7 rating, and it’s touted as the “#1 Brain Training App in the World.”
Set-up is easy as you work through questions about how you want to improve, be it better memory or faster reflexes.
Skip past the payment options (but watch out for ads promising “Free Money Playing Video Games” and such) and try it out before you consider a paid plan. Once you complete the first few rounds, a “discount” game pops up, and you choose a gift icon.
We got an offer for 92% off an annual subscription. We also got very distracted playing this mind-bending brilliance, so consider setting a timer, or you might play right through dinnertime.
2. Red Cross Emergency App (Free for Android and iOS)
With the trusted + of the American Red Cross, this app is vital for seniors and their families to stay safe during emergencies.
This is much more than a weather alert system. Setup includes location tracking and types of weather or disaster alerts the user wants.
The app can track up to eight locations at a time, which is very helpful for snowbirds who might have a home in Florida during hurricane season.
Live radar and newly opened safety shelters will appear on an interactive map. This app is free with no in-app purchase risks and can provide a lifeline to seniors seeking shelter and community support during disasters.
3. Vera Music (Free with paid plan options for Android and iOS)
Vera is an app specifically designed to help Alzheimer’s patients improve their quality of life and reconnect with memories through music. The app is best suited for a loved one or caregiver to set up with the input or knowledge of the patient.
You enter a name, birth year, preferred genres of music, and a customized list of favorite artists. Each time you open the app, you can choose a playlist catering to the person’s needs that day – relax, reminisce, or energize.
Each subscription comes with a 14-day free trial. You can only choose a six or 12-month plan, which will cost $49.99 or $89.99, respectively.
Vera Pro is available for senior care facilities to design playlists for each patient with daily input of the person’s mood or energy levels.
4. Official Medicare App (Free for Android and iOS)
Can you imagine how much time a senior would have to socialize and have fun if they weren’t always digging through the Medicare maze?
This app helps clearly define lines between what’s covered under what part of Medicare, and the app is even available without an internet connection.
Look for the Official Medicare Coverage App to avoid getting one of the imposter accounts.
5. Funbridge (Free with in-app purchases for Android and iOS)
Bridge is one of the most popular card games among seniors, and apps like Funbridge bring socialization and interaction to any internet-connected spot on the planet. The free version allows for 100 free deals and two free deals a day.
A premium version costs $13.99 a month, but deal packs can lessen the costs by starting at $3.99 with the option to cancel at any time.
With more than 11,000 ratings and an average rating of 4.6, this is one of the most popular Bridge apps and can also allow grandparents to interact with their children and grandchildren from miles away.
6. UCLA Mindful App (Free for Android and iOS)
This meditation and mindfulness app from the UCLA family of apps provided no-strings-attached meditation and mindful guidance with varying time lengths of five to 15 minutes.
Choose from traditional meditations, meditations for better sleep, working through challenges, and a guided body scan for tension or pain. We tried this one out, and no personal information is required to use the full scope of meditations.
7. Oculus Apps (Per-Game Charge available on Android and iOS with a Facebook account and free Oculus App)
Seniors make up 16.5% of the population, and technology gurus know they need to cater the latest tools to the senior crowd, especially as all Baby Boomers will be 65 or older by 2030.
Virtual reality requires a bit of a learning curve and an investment in VR headsets (Meta’s Quest 2 starts at $399.99).
For spry seniors looking to get back to familiar activities, they can go adventure fishing for the first time in years. The interaction between friends and family can foster stronger relationships.
You can remove barriers for seniors who can’t travel to explore the world in Nature Treks VR. Giving seniors the freedom and confidence to learn a new tool will help their mental health and quality of life.
8. Down Dog Yoga (Free version with paid monthly or yearly plan available on Android or iOS)
Whether a senior isn’t comfortable going into a yoga studio with flexible fitness experts or just wants to tap into some serenity at home, the Down Dog Yoga app offers confidence-building and meditative flows for all skill levels.
As a bonus, you also get options for HIIT, Meditation, and Barre. Senior runners can also choose a length with a new playlist for each run.
The free version will offer some less customized workouts but still allows a selection of difficulty levels. Monthly plans are available for $9.99, and annual subscriptions run $59.99.
9. Mighty: Health Coach for 50+ (Free version with membership options for Android and iOS)
This health and fitness app is designed for people over 50, with personalized workouts, nutrition support, and grocery lists for paying members. The free version offers some outstanding elements but with limited customization.
Benefits of a paid membership include a virtual coach, community chat rooms, workouts, and meals customized to specific health requirements.
Users will fill out a detailed (and somewhat exhaustive) list of goals, challenges, ability levels, limitations, and current habits before getting to the heart of the app. All that information is put to good use with exercises that can be done sitting, standing, or lying down.
Users set daily goals and check off tasks as they go. The monthly fee is $30, with an annual membership option of $180 per year ($15 a month) or a lifetime membership for $300. All priced packages come with a one-week free trial.
10. Stitch (Free for Android and iOS)
While seniors love to socialize on Facebook, you might wonder, “Is there an app for seniors to make friends?” Stich does that and then some. The app is designed for people 50 years and older, and you can’t get an account if you aren’t at that ripe age (how’s that for FOMO?).
While the goal is simply to create connections and companionship, some sassy seniors see this as a gateway to intimacy and relationships. We blushed at some of Stich’s senior quotes within national news coverage, but the app can also be used to organize support groups or events. For example:
- A grief/chronic pain/diabetes support group of peers
- A knitting or model airplane gathering
- Create virtual groups with global members to discuss commonalities
Better yet, Stitch has Community Champions and moderators to help avoid scams, safety issues, and concerning behaviors.
11. Amazon Prime Reading (Free with Amazon Prime memberships for individuals or families)
You might have an added Amazon Prime benefit you didn’t know about and risk paying extra for a Kindle or Audible account. Prime members get access to a wide range of rotating reading options.
Look for the headphones with the Amazon logo, which denotes it comes in an audiobook option. From there, you can use the free Kindle or Audible app to read the book without paying extra. While you’ll be limited to the Prime Reading options, it’s a robust number of titles and genres.
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