Not too long ago, most of us probably didn't even know what an app was. Nowadays, however, apps for our mobile phones and tablets are fairly essential to everyday life. A recent example is the NHS Test and Trace app, which formed part of the UK Government's coronavirus strategy. For those who aren't so familiar with technology, apps can be a daunting topic. Are they safe to use? How do you download them? Which ones do you need? Fortunately, we're here to share some of the most useful apps for older people in the UK.
Apps for Older People - Definition
What is an app? Well, app is short for application, which is a kind of computer program. Although applications have been around for decades, the term 'app' entered general usage in the 2000s, with the rise of Apple's iPhone.
Apps allow you to access information or games without having to visit a website. This makes it much easier and faster to find what you were looking for. The most popular types of apps include games, news, weather and social media.
Mobile phones and tablets come with pre-installed apps, but you can add more through the app store. On Apple devices such as iPhones and iPads, this is called the App Store. On Android devices such as Samsung phones and tablets, it's called the Google Play store.
Many apps are free to download and use. However, some cost money to download. Alternatively, apps may be free to download but cost money to unlock extra features. Be sure to look at an app carefully and read some reviews before you download it. This way, you won't end up with any nasty surprises when your phone bill comes through!
So, which apps are you missing out on? We have put together a list of useful apps for older people. These apps will help you stay in touch with loved ones, entertain yourself, look after your health, and keep your mind sharp.
1 - Zoom
First on our list of apps for older people is Zoom. You probably hadn't heard of it before 2020, but now it has more than 1.5 million active users every day in the UK. Zoom is available for computers, tablets, and mobile phones. It's seen an enormous rise in popularity since the pandemic began because it allows you to have video calls with loved ones all over the world.
Zoom is free to download and use, although you can choose to pay for a premium version. The free version lets you host video calls of up to 40 minutes, while the paid version gives you unlimited call time. Whether you choose the free or the premium version, you'll need to sign up with your email address and create a password to log in.
Zoom is a fantastic tool to combat loneliness, especially during the Covid-19 crisis. If you're living by yourself, or even if you do live with a partner, it is nice to check-in with your favourite people. Of course, if you struggle with your mobility or if's a cold winter day then you can catch up and ‘see’ your friends without having to leave the comfort of your sofa.
To use Zoom, all you need to do is:
- Download the app.
- Create a username and password.
- Join your first meeting or schedule your own meeting and invite family/friends.
- Get chatting!
A family member or friend who already has the app can always help to get you started if needs be. For more advice, read Keeping in Touch during Lockdown: Tech Tips for Older People.
2 - WhatsApp
WhatsApp is another great app for people of all ages. This app enables you to instant message friends and family over the internet for free! Therefore, you won't need to use up your credit or your monthly text messages allowance to stay in touch with loved ones. It's perfect for keeping in touch with the people you care about.
Sending messages is quick and easy. You can see when your contacts are online too. To get started with WhatsApp, you simply need to download it through the app store on your device and follow the set-up process. It will then import all your contacts from your contact list and you can start sending messages.
3 - Pill Reminder Pro
An essential app for anyone who takes daily medication. Pill Reminder Pro will notify you when it's time to take your medication so you never miss a dose again. You can enter multiple different pills and set the correct dosage, frequency, and time(s) of day to take them.
The app will then send a notification through to your device at the correct time, by a message popping up on the screen and an alarm playing out loud, similar to a text message or phone call. There is a cost of 99p for this app, which available on the Apple App Store.
4 - Words With Friends
Smartphone apps give us plenty of ways to keep the boredom at bay. One of the most popular game apps is Words With Friends. This is an addictive Scrabble-like game available for smartphones and tablets. You can compete against people you know, or play Solo Challenges to train your brain and build your vocabulary. You can also choose to play against a random opponent and make new friends all over the world!
Words With Friends is free to download and play on Apple and Android devices.
Elsewhere there are a number of different crossword and word search apps to choose from. Simply search for these keywords in the Android or App store and all of your options will appear - including free and paid-for games. If you're more numerically minded, there are lots of free sudoku apps and similar brain-teasers for you. You can also read our blog on how to keep a healthy mind in old age.
5 - Speechnotes
Next on our list of useful apps for older people, we have speech-to-text app Speechnotes. This app can save you the hassle of typing out long texts or emails. Simply dictate what you want to say and the app will transcribe your speech for you.
This will be a great help for anyone suffering from eyesight issues, hearing issues, or limited dexterity.
6 - Senior Fitness Workouts
It's important for people of all ages to stay fit and healthy. The Senior Fitness Home Workouts app is an easy way to do so. Designed for people aged 50 and over, the app aims to get you into a workout routine aimed at the difficulty of your choice. Sticking to your routine will help you build your confidence and self-esteem as well as your fitness.
Fitness apps for older people allow you to do a workout in the safety and comfort of your own home. Even outside of the pandemic, being in your own surroundings could actually lead to a better workout, as you won’t have to worry about what others around you are thinking.
7 - News Apps
News and weather apps are hugely popular - in fact, your smartphone probably comes with one pre-installed. Whether you want to keep up with global affairs or get the latest local headlines, it's important to stay informed in our fast-paced modern world.
Most television news channels and newspapers offer their own news apps. The majority are free to download and use, while some will charge you to subscribe.
If you are a sports fan then BBC Sport and Sky Sports News also have easy-to-use apps. These will send you breaking news alerts if you wish. For the football fans out there, Sky Sports News also has a dedicated football app full of the latest news and scores.
8 - Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock
This app as featured in the likes of The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. With reviews like, "It just works. Period. It does exactly what it advertises which is absolutely amazing." This app is perfect for anyone who has trouble with their sleep and wants to be woken up at the best time in the most gentle way.
Waking up easy is all about timing. Sleep Cycle alarm clock tracks your sleep patterns and wakes you up during light sleep. Waking up during light sleep feels like waking up naturally rested without an alarm clock.
Staying Safe at Home
We hope you've enjoyed this list of smartphone apps for older people. Technology has so much to offer elderly people today - especially when it comes to personal alarms. Personal alarms are an effective and reliable way for older people to maintain their independence at home. For more information or to order one of our life-saving alarms, speak to one of our friendly advisers on 0800 999 0400. Alternatively, complete our contact us form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
Editor's Note: This article was updated on 15th February 2021 to reflect current information. It was originally published in May 2018.