Senior citizens are one of the fastest growing demographics to embrace technology. According to a 2012 PEW report, more than 50% of older Americans are Internet users, and even more have mobile phones.
But with mobile apps like SnapChat and Angry Birds, it seems like many developers are focusing on a younger generation.
Here are 20 apps that are perfect for seniors looking to update their smartphones and tablets. Try these apps for education, entertainment, health and productivity.
This app is included with all Apple devices – seniors can use it to download e-books from the iTunes store. You can also adjust the lighting and type size while reading – helpful for those of us who no longer have the eyesight we once did. But iTunes doesn’t have as broad of a selection of books as Amazon. So if you’re a voracious reader, consider downloading the free Kindle app, where you can buy e-books from Amazon’s vast library (most are under $10).
Words With Friends (free)
The No. 1 mobile word game, Words with Friends is loved by all generations. Use it to play a Scrabble-like game with friends, family, or anonymous people across the world. More into crosswords than Scrabble? Try Crosswords Classic, another addicting word game with crossword puzzles aggregated from large newspapers.
Use the NPR app to access NPR programming on your mobile devices, including radio broadcasts, world news and text versions of NPR stories. If music is more your thing, try downloading Pandora for free radio stations of all genres.
The Netflix app is free, but you’ll need a $7.99 Netflix subscription to access its library of movies and TV shows. Then, stream away. But before paying for Netflix or another streaming app, check with your TV provider to see if they offer a free app with access to on-demand movies. Verizon’s FiOS TV app, Comcast’s Xfinity TV Go app, and the Time Warner Cable app all have tons of free movies and shows on-demand (and you can use the app as a remote if yours is across the room!)
Luminosity Brain Trainer (free)
Luminosity Brain Trainer includes 35 daily training sessions of 7 brain games designed to enhance your cognitive abilities, including memory, processing speed, attention, flexibility, and problem solving. It’s education that feels like fun.
Break out of your recipe box’s collection of classics with a cooking app. Find new recipes submitted from home chefs all over the country, watch instructional videos, and build a shopping list. You can search by ingredient and course, too, which helps you find new ways to experiment with old ingredients. Epicurious is another recipe app with similar functionality and beautiful photos.
The Weather Channel (free)
Stop waiting for local on the eights. Use this app to find out your local weather conditions and forecasts instantly, plus maps, radar sweeps, and weather videos. Being able to easily access the weather on your mobile devices makes it easier to organize and plan – everything from vacations to what to wear.
Well Being Plus (free)
This app is designed to be a mobile scheduling reminder. It has a dual use for seniors: you can use it as a daily planner or calendar to remind yourself of appointments or lunch dates, and you can set reminders of when to take your medicine, exercise, and more.
Similar to Well Being, this app allows senior citizens to follow up on medical treatments, and it can even provide access to support and help from its online community. The self-monitoring function can empower you to track your own medical progress. Medisafe Virtual Pillbox functions in a similar manner, reminding you when to take medications.
Red Panic Button ($1.99)
If you live alone, or if your daily activities make you prone to injury, this app is a must. With the tap of a big red button, a text message and email alert with GPS coordinates are automatically sent to a pre-selected list of medical contacts. Prime Alert is another similar option.
Find my iPad (free)
From time to time, we all misplace our smartphones or tablets (or worse, they get stolen). Use this app to locate your device via GPS.
The above reviews and suggestions come courtesy of Alexis Caffrey, and do not reflect the opinions of Sunrise Senior Living. Alexis is a freelance writer with a focus on technology, new media, and design and has many of the above apps installed on her own iPad. In a former life she was a graphic designer based out of New York, NY. You can reach Alex via her email.