Technology – Not just for kids

The use of smart phones and tablets amongst over 65s has seen a rise over the last few years. According to Ofcom, the proportion of people aged over 65 that are accessing the web reached 42% in 2013, up nine percentage points from 33% in 2012, which is a 27% increase over the year. They claim this is due in part to the ease and portability of accessing smartphones and tablets. Not only is it a quick and convenient way to get online, the use of apps also makes the potential for these devices great. There are apps for everything, from simple games right through to dating and social media sites, health, smart shopping and accessibility.

Smart phones and tablets could potentially have a massive impact on the lives of the elderly. And it’s important that we as family, friends and care-givers do what we can to encourage them to learn how to and feel comfortable using them. Deborah Stone, director of suggests that:

“It needn’t be expensive. It needn’t be complicated. But it does need to be kept simple – and made enjoyable. Tablet use has helped connect hundreds of people – including many with disabilities and living in care homes. We know this can work. It’s in every family’s interests to encourage and enable their older relatives to make that step – and the advice we have published will give them the information and guidance they need.”

Below are a few examples to highlight what is out there. Here are just a very small selection of some great apps that we think will especially appeal to over 65s.

  • Communication Tool
    This is a great app for dementia sufferers and carers. It uses over 500 images to allow for easier communication. You can also very easily use your own pictures on the app, making it a much more personal experience.
  • Skype
    Skype is just one of many social apps that allow you to chat with and video call anyone in the world (as long as they also have a Skype account!). It’s a great way to help with the loneliness epidemic which is rife amongst the elderly.
  • BBC iplayer
    BBC iplayer is just one of many apps which allow you to watch ‘catch up’ TV for free. ITV and channel 4 also have similar apps. They’re usually free and they mean you can choose what to watch, when you want to watch it. Simple!
  • Kindle
    You can download this app onto your device with no need to buy a Kindle. It allows you to access thousands of books of varying prices; many of which are free.
  • Silver Surf
    Silver Surf can turn your iPad screen into the equivalent of what looks like a large-print book it also has many other features designed to make accessibility much easier for those with sight/dexterity issues and is completely customizable for your own personal preferences.
  • Pillboxie
    This app allows you to store a list of your medications and set timers to remind you when and which pills to take. It’s easy to set up and simple to use.
  • Lumosity
    Lumosity combines 25+ cognitive games into a daily training program that challenges your brain. Games adapt to your unique performances — helping you stay challenged in a wide variety of cognitive tasks. Great for exercising the grey matter and helping improve memory.
  • Pandora
    Pandora is an app which is designed to tailor music to your tastes. You start by putting in the genre, artist or songs you like and Pandora suggest similar tracks. You can then ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ the matches, fine-tuning it further. It’s like having your own, personal radio station!

So, if you are trying to find opportunities for your elderly loved ones to have new experiences, or to simply find ways to make life a little easier for them, it may be worth investing in a tablet or smart phone.

You may also find this guide useful, on mobile apps that help the elderly with technology, and especially the sometimes confusing interface on modern mobile devices, written by JoyOfAndroid.