Who would have thought that in this day and age that our life can be enhanced so much by a chunk of metal we hold in our hands? Apps tell us what restaurants are good, how to get there, enable us to invite friends last minute, call a ride, and advise us to bring an umbrella because it is going to rain. For most of us, these apps have become so ingrained in us that they are now our second nature. However, the transition is a bit harder for our elderly loved ones. Not having grown up with technology can leave them at a disadvantage these days.
The gradual takeover of smartphone technology can be a bit scary, overwhelming, or frustrating for the elderly, but there are so many benefits that enhance seniors’ daily lives that are hard to ignore. Helping them download and learn some of these beneficial apps is one of the most helpful things we can do for them. Whether it is with an Android or an iPhone, the addition of several key apps on their mobile phones can increase seniors’ health and well-being tenfold. We will discuss in this article our top 10 picks of apps for the elderly, and exactly why they can be of great benefit to them.
Staying connected with family and friends is as essential to seniors’ lives as diet, medication, and exercise. Depression and isolation can often cause a downward health spiral which can sometimes cause early death. For this reason, it is so important for seniors to not be socially isolated. Being able to call a friend or family member has become increasingly easier with the development of modern-day technologies. And to be able to see your loved one through a video call almost makes it seem like they are in the room.
The best way to keep in touch with family and friends is through Skype. This app offers HD video and audio calling on your smartphone or exchanging messages by way of the Internet. It can also be used to call cell phones and landlines, not just other people who have the app. The computer versions of the Skype app enable you access to your phone’s text messages, allowing you to read and reply to them.
Using Skype is typically free, but some features cost a small fee. For instance, calling cell phones or landlines in the US is available through monthly packages starting at $2.99. International calls are also available but at different price points. However as long as you are calling, messaging, and video chatting with fellow Skype users, it is free! No more outrageous fees for international and long-distance calls adding up. You no longer have to wait for your granddaughter to come back to tell you about her backpacking adventures to Europe. You can join along as you Skype with her through video chat. Hike up the Eiffel Tower with your loved one, all in the comfort of your own home.
Anywhere from 30 to 50% of people over the age of 50 have issues with hypertension (chronic high blood pressure). Those that suffer from this condition are at a higher risk of further health problems like heart disease, stroke, vision loss, and dementia to name a few. For this reason, blood pressure monitoring can be so important to notice an issue before it causes great harm. Not only is blood pressure monitoring helpful for those with hypertension, but it can also be used by all older adults to assess and optimize their well-being. Checking your blood pressure daily allows you to check for a serious illness, help reduce the risk of falls, and to monitor recent medication changes.
The Blood Pressure Monitor app helps you keep track of all your blood pressure and weight readings over time. It also provides statistics, health reminders, and allows you to export your data to your doctor. Keep in mind that this app does not read your blood pressure. You must input the data manually. The Blood Pressure Monitor is available for your iPhone and iPad through the App Store, but there are similar apps available for Android smartphone users.
Getting lost in a good book can keep senior’s minds active, entertained, and engaged. The act of reading enhances memory, sharpens decision-making skills, reduces stress, and improves sleep. Not to mention reading can also delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
Kindle allows you to read unlimited books right from your phone, computer, or iPad. You do not need the Kindle device. And not only can seniors read a variety of books that help them gain insight into their health problems, but they can also get lost in a Clive Cussler western or John Steinbeck novel. The ability to escape into a new world can help seniors break up the monotony of their day. And reading can also be social. Encourage your loved one to join a book club with friends. Kindle will help them easily find the exact book to read along with their reader’s circle.
Though Kindle is available for Android and iOS users, Apple has an alternative app. AppleBooks offers digital books as well as audiobooks for your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Apple Watch. Happy reading!
If your loved one is a voracious reader but struggles with a visual impairment, Librivox can be a good alternative. The LibriVox app has more than 27,000 audiobooks he or she can listen to. They can be streamed online or be downloaded for later. There are new releases every day, as the volunteer team at LibriVox records new releases every day. And best of all, it is free!
The LibriVox catalog offers world literature of both fiction and non-fiction, including novels, biographies, history books, short stories, classic bestsellers, old radio dramas, poetry, and so much more. US users also have access to an additional 75,000 audiobooks, such as new releases and bestsellers, at a price. Another honorable mention for those who like to listen to interesting programs would be the NPR app, which broadcasts tons of interesting news, podcasts, stories, humor, and music.
You may have noticed your loved one becoming more forgetful over time. The reason for this is that brains shrink in volume over time. Some neurons are lost, and the remaining neurons slow down when the brain sends messages. But the good news is, that seniors can combat this with an active routine, a healthy diet, daily socialization, and of course, mental exercise. Your brain is a muscle that can be trained just like other physical body parts.
Lumosity is a great app that encourages brain training through hundreds of challenging puzzles and brain teasers. Not only does it improve your memory, attention, speed, mental flexibility, and problem-solving skills, it is fun! Available in both free and paid versions, this helpful app is based on the science of neuroplasticity, meaning the brain can change and reorganize itself. And this means, at any age! You can easily tell the app what areas you would like improvement in, and it will recommend a series of games every day to work on those areas. You will see a big difference over time if you stick with it!
Medications keep your loved one well. They are a big part of senior citizens’ daily routines and ensure their functionality in living with many conditions. The average elderly person takes more than 5 prescription medications at any given time. The average nursing home resident takes 7. Often they are meant to be taken at various times of day, with or without food. Keeping track of the medication schedule can be difficult for most seniors. Therefore, we would like to recommend Pillboxie.
The Pillboxie app sends you notification reminders for scheduled medication times that you set. You can customize your medications by color. This makes it easy to organize your schedule by visuals because you can drag your specifically-colored medication into a pillbox marked with the corresponding time to take them. The device will make a noise at the desired reminder time, and the user can check off the dose as they take it. The medication will be grayed out once it has been checked off. Your loved one can customize the settings to register all of his or her medications and dose times, all for only $1.99. Android also has medication management apps like Medisafe in the GooglePlay store.
Being part of a community gives seniors meaning and purpose in their lives, especially after retirement. Sometimes the elderly feel a bit excluded in today’s fast-paced society. However, with the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), it is all about the senior community. AARP not only advocates for the elderly in terms of things like social security and Medicare, but they also supply age-related news, nearby event listings, and incredible members-only benefits and senior discounts. To be a member of AARP is only $16 a year, and we believe it is well worth it if you take advantage of the many discounts available. Having the AARP app, however, is free to members and non-members alike. Stay up-to-date on senior-related news to know what is going on in your senior community. You can also easily share interesting AARP news through your social media channel. But with the yearly membership, you or your loved one can have easy access to additional benefits on your phone. Get discounts on anything from health insurance and pharmacy costs to gas, tech, and travel. The list goes on and on. And having the app makes it even easier.
Vision loss is a common problem amongst the elderly. Have you ever brought your loved one out to a restaurant and they stare at the menu for a while only to realize he or she forgot the “readers.” They often can’t go anywhere without needing their reading glasses. You or your loved one can now have “readers” on your phone with the free Magnifying Glass + Flashlight app. This handy app will not only zoom in on small print and images up to 5 times, but it will illuminate it, making it even easier to read. It also can capture screenshots of what you magnify, which can be handy for saving useful information. With this magnifier, your loved one will no longer have trouble with the fine print on restaurant menus, maps, mailers, contracts, or keypads. Simply position the mobile device’s camera over the desired text and move the screen slider. The text will be automatically lit up and enlarged, making reading a breeze for the visually-impaired.
The inability to get in their car and go where they want to can be frustrating for seniors. Many have been used to having their freedom of mobility in their younger years, but as time goes on, they lose the ability to drive for many different reasons. This can be due to stiff joints and muscles, hearing or vision loss, dementia, or slower reaction time. Certain medications they take can also affect their driving ability. Despite these issues, they would still like to be as mobile as possible. And you might not always be around to take them where they need to go.
That is where Uber comes in. This mobile app can easily enable your loved one to catch a ride to the store whenever they want. They can go to a concert in the park with friends, a Saturday bridge game, or a quick trip to the pharmacy all without your assistance. Having this type of freedom can help a senior to feel more independent, which leads to greater well-being. They feel more in charge of their schedule and daily activities and can arrange them how they see fit.
Your loved one can order a car from home, and then again when they have finished at their destination. Average wait times for an Uber can be anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes, depending on what area you are in. Incredible, isn’t it? The Uber app itself is free, but the rides will charge your credit card in the app, depending on the length of the trip.
Health concerns are the most prevalent issues seniors have to deal with in their daily lives. New symptoms pop up all the time, which can leave your loved one stressed and frightened about what it could signify. He or she may not be able to schedule an immediate doctor visit to discuss the symptom. Well, you no longer have to Google your symptoms and browse through pages of results anymore. With the free WebMD app, you can easily check your symptoms, learn about potential health conditions, medication side effects, and find doctors in your area. This app also sets medication reminders. Having the physician-reviewed information at your fingertips can ease a lot of stress that seniors face.
Another useful aspect of the WebMD app is the “Healthy Target” section. This feature allows you to establish eating and exercise goals, and then gives you actionable insights at the end of the week, based on your input information. Keeping on top of your health and fitness goals is essential for a senior who values a healthy lifestyle. And you don’t need a personal trainer to do it! This is one of the best health apps out there.
Always remember that any information given on this app should not replace any advice or diagnosis your doctor can give you. The WebMD app is simply giving supplemental material that you can use as a tool to learn about, and better your health.
Introducing one or more of these smartphone apps for seniors to your loved one can be challenging, and even frustrating at first. But as he or she gets to know the benefits of these useful apps, you will see a delight that spreads across his or her face that will in turn bring you so much joy. Adding a new app to a senior’s life can be like them gaining a new superpower. Your loved one can now read and listen to books limitlessly, train their brain with fun games, order a car to see friends, manage medications and learn about symptoms, stay connected with the senior community, and best of all, stay connected with friends and family all over the world. With these apps, we have no doubt your loved one will live with more ease and freedom, which in turn brings you more peace of mind. We here at CareAsOne send our best wishes to you and your loved ones in this modern age.