11 Interesting Smartphone Apps for Seniors

11 smartphone apps - free or 99 cents - that may be entertaining and/or useful for older people.

These apps obviously aren't just for seniors but are some that seniors might find entertaining and/or useful.

Find My Phone (free)

You need to have another Mac iOS product like a Mac computer, iPad or iPod touch. You install the Apple app on your secondary device, open it and sign in with your Apple ID.  The app does things like help you find the missing phone on a map, have the phone play a sound (if it’s in your house somewhere), remotely lock your device or erase all your data. If you have iOS 6, you can use Lost Mode – you can remotely lock your iPhone and then automatically post your contact phone # on its screen.

NPR Mobile (free)

Get all your favorite NPR shows on your iPhone, Blackberry, Android, iPad and any web-enabled device.

PBS Mobile (free)

Using an iPad and this free app you can watch popular PBS programs like Frontline, Antiques Roadshow, Nova, Need to Know, Masterpiece, Nature and more.

GasBuddy (free)

Lists cheapest gas in your immediate area when you input your zip code. Available for iPhone, Blackberry or Android.

Words with Friends (free)

A fun word game which looks just like Scrabble. Invite your friend or family member to play or you can play with random opponents. A lot of fun and can be addicting! And maybe confusing if you get too many games going at once. Available for iPhone and Android.

Facebook Mobile (free)

Another way to stay in touch with friends, children, grandchildren. You don’t have to have a laptop, you can use your iPhone or your iPad.

MedWatcher (free)

This app describes medical uses and known side effects of a wide range of medications plus offers news and safety alerts on vaccines and prescription medicines. MedWatcher is a mobile tool for both healthcare professionals and the general public. Anyone can submit an adverse event report to FDA using the easy-to-use form on MedWatcher, or post to their online community to talk to others taking the same meds. In the My Saved section, you can make a quick list of all the prescription medicines, devices and vaccines your family or patients use and track the latest developments. This app is a project of Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, the University of North Carolina and Epidemico.

WebMD Mobile (free)

WedMD is the longtime go-to, reputable website for medical information on a wide range of conditions, symptoms, prescription drugs, vitamins, supplements, first aid information and other helpful resources and support. You can also search for information on specific medications using the Pill ID function. For Android, iPhone, iPad. They also have a new iPhone app WebMd Pain Coach for people living with chronic pain, featuring over 1,000 doctor-approved tips and articles, symptom and treatment trackers, and more.

Over 40 Magnifier and Flashlight ($.99)

This is an app for iPhones but there are plenty of magnifier apps out there for other smartphone brands as well. This one allows you to see menus and receipts in dark restaurants, use the Flashlight feature to see in dark areas, use the Vanity Mirror to see how you look and magnifies from 1x to 10x.

Elder 411 and Elder 911 (free)

Two separate apps both created by a geriatric care manager. Elder 911 can help walk you through an emergency concerning an elderly loved one. There is a screen where you can select your relation to the senior (parent, spouse, etc.) and what stage of crisis they are in (before the crisis, at the hospital, post-hospital, etc.). From there, an assortment of checklists, steps, and pertinent information is available to help you manage an emergency situation. Elder 411 is a more widely-applicable app containing general caregiving information and tips on things like communication, financial matters, and safety.

Stress Stopper ($.99)

What would this list be without a stress-relief app? You can use this iPhone app to learn about 10 common types of stress; schedule up to 64 reminders to stay one step ahead of stress; integrate your reactions with focused thinking and breathing until the stress is gone; use their 9 tips to manage stress in the heat of the moment; listen to stress busting audio reminders: e.g. laughter, chimes, waves; connect with a Stress Is Gone Coach as needed; link to other free tools that relieve stress and use it when the iPhone is in Airplane mode.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Rico October 10, 2012 at 05:56 PM
So, marketing smartphones to billions of kids is not enough ? Seniors are retired, and most of them don't or can't use smartphones, give this marketing scam of marketing to senior citizens a rest. Please, enough of the marketing hype already.
Nancy Rhine, MS, LMFT October 10, 2012 at 09:17 PM
Hi there, Ricardo. Thank you for your passionate comment. I know many seniors and/or disabled individuals who are homebound for various reasons and rely on their smartphones as another tool in their communications toolkits for entertainment, news and connectivity. I think it's all about informed choices. If email, Facebook, Skype, internet research, phones, iPads etc etc are not for folks, no problem. If they are, then let's give them some good ideas. Thanks again for taking the time to comment. Best regards, Nancy
J-A Warner October 10, 2012 at 10:32 PM
date, and mostly due to lack of education in this regard, I have kept a minimalist cell phone approach via a pay-as-you-go plan (AT&T's gophone). I suspect this is the case with most seniors: lack of education, not lack of interest. Your article points out helpful reasons to switch to a more high-tech cell phone with useful aids to remaining independent and in good communications with peers, family and community. thank you very much for this well researched, concise info. This is helpful educational material. More, please!
Rico October 11, 2012 at 03:39 AM
J-A, Lack of education is a lack of looking at all the advertising.That is what is now considered education. I understand how this new smartphone and other mobile devices is so important to this troubled economy. And even though I am still working (not retired yet) I don't need a smartphone. But, some of my colleagues have some really cool apps for tracking jobs and other things directly beneficial to people in business. I am not putting all this new wireless mobile technology down, but what I am saying is that most senior citizens really have no need to use a smartphone, or even just a simple mobile phone except for emergencies if they still drive automobiles (which many don't). I relate to the case of my mother. She retired 10 years ago, used a computer for research for decades . She retired and bought her own home computer to start her own research business. That lasted about 2 years. She quit working and dumped her computer. She said all the problems, upgrades and expenses were too much for her. She never owned a mobile phone, and never had a need for one. She still has a land line telephone and cable TV, that is all she needs. I would consider my mother a typical senior living in Marin. Keep in mind that all these new smartphones and all the cool apps are mainly for younger people. They help self employed people, people looking for work and kids to use social networks. Smartphones are not necessary at all for people who are "home bound" like some seniors are.
Reginald "Rex" Henderson October 11, 2012 at 12:04 PM
Ricardo, What you have is a real head-in-the-ground approach to things. Ignorance is bliss for many.
Rico October 11, 2012 at 04:45 PM
The point that I am trying to make is that smartphones are mobile devices. The screen is very small, and so is the keypad. They are being marketed very heavily to everyone. It's like a campaign that everybody must have one who is on the go and wants to watch videos and connect with social networks to gossip. Smartphones are very limited compared to a PC, and much slower too. The costs are very high and so are the mobile carrier and data plan fees (average about $90 per month combined). I don't think any senior (especially one who is home bound) needs a small mobile device to use at home. They definitely need a landline telephone (with extra large buttons and sometimes a speaker amplifier), and if they are really into watching videos and the network news a full screen television works the best. For a retired senior citizen to have to watch a tiny screen and fumble with miniature keypads is an unnecessary burden and stress. Many older people have failing eyesight, hearing and motor skills, that is why not many seniors buy these little mobile devices. No amount of advertising dollars or articles written by doctors can force a sudden interest for a senior to run out and buy a mobile device, I say to increase sales, focus on the younger upwardly mobile (YUPPIES) , and give the seniors a break from the marketing hype. They worked all their life for a retirement, so let them relax and enjoy their time.
Nancy Rhine, MS, LMFT October 11, 2012 at 04:56 PM
Again, I know many people who are elderly, plus many who are younger seniors, who love their cell phones - whether it's a simple Jitterbug like phone with large buttons and no bells and whistles. Or whether they are more complex and full-featured. Some 85+ year old friends of mine take photos with their cell phones at their retirement community dining room tables and mail them to family amongst many other things they enjoy with them. I believe that having solid information about choices is a good thing - the key words being "informed" and "choices".
Rico October 12, 2012 at 01:26 AM
One of the worst things about trying to market wireless devices to seniors is the problem of wireless in general. Most seniors have had some exposure to RF, but this proliferation has expanded exponentially in the last few years. I feel especially sorry for the kids. Holding a UHF transmitter to their head for many hours a day is not a good thing to do, and nobody really knows the outcome of doing dangerous things to a young body, time will tell. I would never hold a transmitter to my head, I was taught that 30 years ago (long before mobile phones took off. It's stupid and dangerous. I admit that I use a mobile phone for business, but I only use the speakerphone, and my Motorola i886 has an extendable antenna. I only hold the phone at least 18 inches away from my body, and always point the antenna away from myself. That is how I was trained to use 2 way radios. But most seniors and kids have never had proper training. Why subject seniors to unnecessary RF radiation in the last good years of their life ? It's no wonder that the corporations payed the president to mandate "healthcare insurance", because these same corporations have a very strong feeling that people are going to need a whole lot of medical care in the future because of the things that they are allowed to sell now.
Reginald "Rex" Henderson October 12, 2012 at 12:42 PM
Ricardo - Why are you trying to control everyone? Besides being a technology-phobe (as was the Unabomber) what business is it of yours what anyone does with Smart, or even Dumb phones? May be time to examine this with the article's author...
Nancy Rhine, MS, LMFT October 12, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Thanks for your posts, Rex. Indeed, I do welcome conversations, questions, feedback, stories and ideas about growing older in general, and in particular re about our lives as older individuals, couples and families here in Marin. My contact info is on my Profile here on the Patch - here it is again: Nancy Rhine, MS, LMFT #51127 Office: Interfaith Counseling Center 15 Austin Avenue San Anselmo, CA 415-378-6577 nancyrhine@aol.com
Rico October 12, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Rex, Why do you think I am a technology phobe (as was the Unabomber) ? And what gives you the idea that I am trying to control everyone ? For your information, I am a licensed master electrician, and I am licensed to design and install data, voice, structured networks, building automation, controls and traffic signal systems. Also I studied radio electronics and mobile phone networks which I use every day, so I guess you are wrong about me being afraid of technology, technology is what I do for a living. And, part of my job is consulting and designing technical systems, that is education, not control (as you think). And Nancy, I think that your job as a therapist is important and a good service to offer, but maybe you should learn something about the dangers of wireless before promoting them to senior citizens.
Cam October 12, 2012 at 11:21 PM
Ricardo, Your knowledge about the cautions of this technology could better serve folks if perhaps you submit an article/ post to the Patch. Give the "low-down" on the best way to use them, worst models regarding "handling" for those with limited dexterity or poor visual acuity or why you would advise against such devices. I think your comments that this article promotes purchasing more "dangerous" smartphones is way off target. Nancy has offered info to help better utilize the tools likely already on hand for whatever reason. Nothing wrong in that, and actually it's great that she's written this concise piece. You need to check your narrow ideas of what a "senior" is outside of your little world. Lots of older (and younger) folk purchase for themselves or are gifted with the devices. Plenty are interested, able & willing to exercise their minds by choosing how & what kind of technology devices work for them.
Rico October 13, 2012 at 12:01 AM
You are right Cam, We all know that all these mobile devices and apps are out there, it is probably the biggest money making business in the world now, and without it the economy as we know it would completely fail. I am not saying that smartphones are any more dangerous than regular mobile phones, and I don't know where you got that impression. I am not saying that Nancy was wrong to post an article about senior citizens using these little mobile devices, most people believe the marketing campaigns that are bombarding us all. But at the same time, there really is no need at all for seniors to use this technology. If they really want it, they can buy a computer with a large 24 inch high definition monitor and an ergonomic keyboard. Even using full size computers is hard on some people and causes disabilities, but to try and market little mobile devices to seniors seems like just more sales hype to me, I'm sorry if you don't like my opinion
Peter Smtith October 14, 2012 at 04:53 PM
Hi, Those are great apps for seniors that already use a smartphone. But there are also some that make a smartphone something that even seniors with no technology proficiency can use. I use one with my father and he loves it. Now he can take pics, share them and what's even better receive pics from his grandchildren. You can check it www.livlivsolutions.com
Nancy Rhine, MS, LMFT October 15, 2012 at 02:04 AM
Interesting, Peter! Thanks for the tip!
Reginald "Rex" Henderson October 16, 2012 at 11:07 AM
Ricardo, It's jut that as a senior that uses a smart phone, it sounded like you were telling me what to do or not do. Next thing would be you saying that seniors shouldn't have sex (we do, you know)! Least thats how it sounded to me. I stand corrected on the technology stuff.
Reginald "Rex" Henderson October 16, 2012 at 11:08 AM
Yes! Give us the lowdown.
George Sheety March 24, 2013 at 06:10 PM
Check out NoSquint for iPhone! The best Dial App for Seniors! www.nosquint.com/app


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »