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The Best Smartphone Apps for Seniors 65+

The Best Smartphone Apps for Seniors 65+

Originally published March 10, 2017; Updated April 24, 2019

Almost half of individuals over 65 have a smartphone these days, and one of the biggest perks of having one is the ability to use smartphone apps.

If you’re looking for some apps that are wonderfully suited for the Baby Boomer generation, here are some of the best we’ve found.

1. Medicare’s “What’s covered” app

Cost: Free

Available on App Store and Google Play

On January 28, 2019, Medicare announced their new “What’s covered” app where you can search different medical tests and services to see if they’re covered.

The app will give you an estimate of the general cost, coverage, and eligibility details for items and services covered by Medicare Parts A and B.

Just go to your app store and type in “What’s covered” or “Medicare” to search for the app.

Once you’ve installed the application on your phone, you can start searching. For example, have you wondered if Medicare covers the flu shot?

What about chemotherapy?

Or long-term care?

The What’s covered app from Medicare is a great tool to have, especially if you’re enrolled in Medicare and/or have a Medicare Supplement.

This app may not be as helpful if you have a Medicare Advantage plan, since those are private health plans. However, Medicare Advantage plans must cover at least the same amount as Medicare – if not more – so the app can still be a general guide for you.‍

2. New York Times Crosswords

Cost: Free
Available on App Store and Google Play

Several studies have determined that doing crossword puzzles on a regular basis can slow down the effects of dementia as well as decreasing your overall risk. In fact, on average, crossword puzzles provided about a two and half year delay in memory delay compared to people who didn’t do them at all.

Plus, if you’re a word-lover, crossword puzzles are downright fun!

The New York Times Crosswords app has a Mini crossword that you can complete in a few minutes, or you can tackle the main Crossword if you have more time.

A few tips:

  1. The Monday puzzle is the easiest, and the puzzles get harder as the week goes on. If you’re new to crosswords, start with the Monday puzzle!
  2. Scan the list and find the easy clues first. It’s a lot easier to tackle the harder ones if you have some letters on the board to help you.
  3. Take a break! If you’re stuck, let your brain rest for a while. The answers may come to you with time.

3. Marco Polo

Cost: Free
Available on App Store and Google Play

In our first iteration of this smartphone apps article, we mentioned Skype as a great way to connect with long-distance relatives. However, Skype has changed quite a bit over the years and seems to lag a bit behind the times.

This article from Techspot outlines the evolution of Skype, and helps paint the picture of why today, the app is messy and has pretty bad call quality. In other words, it’s not our top choice anymore.

A great alternative is Marco Polo, a video chat app that doesn’t require both people to be on at the same time.

You can send a video message when you’re on the go, and the person on the other end can watch in real time or whenever they have a chance. Unlike Skype and other video chatting smartphone apps, both people don’t have to be on at the same time.

You can have group chats, too! Include your parents, kids, and siblings all in one video chat, just like you would a group text.

The app is really user friendly – even if you’re not tech savvy. Just press “Start” and “Stop” when recording your video message.

4. Medisafe

Cost: Free
Available on App Store and Google Play

This number one prescription drug reminder app makes it easy to take your medications on time, every time.

While you can use this app as a self-reminding tool, you can also choose to allow your family, friends, or caregivers to be alerted when you don’t take your medication. You’ll also get notified when your prescriptions are running low so that you don’t go without your medications.

Say goodbye to sticky notes on the mirror and scribbles on your fridge notepad!

5. WebMD

Cost: Free
Available on App Store and Google Play

This health and wellness app is more than just a symptom-checker. You can get medication reminders, track your daily health progress, and find local health listings such as physicians near you.

In addition, the WebMD app has partnered with pharmacies across the US to find the best prescription prices, which can often beat your regular insurance copay. This tool is free.

WebMD is full of physician-reviewed information and tools, so you can trust that the information is accurate.

6. Audible

Cost: Free
Available on App Store and Google Play

If you love stepping into a different world for a little while, the Audible app might be your new best friend. It has over 475,000 audiobooks to choose from, which is the world’s largest selection.

This digital audiobook library makes it easy to listen to what you love while you’re either unable to open a book or when you just prefer the convenience of someone reading to you.

Plus, you can choose any book from any genre – not just fiction. Make your next workout even more productive with a Self Development book like The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss or a Business book like The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey.

Cleaning the house, cooking dinner, and driving across town has never been more exciting.

7. Words with Friends 2

Cost: Free
Available on App Store and Google Play

All Scrabble lovers will love this free word-play app. Challenge your family and friends (or Facebook pals) to a match. Start studying those 2-letter words (and the J and Q words!) to rack up the trophies!

A new feature of the Words with Friends app is the live trivia night where you can earn cash prizes for answering all 12 trivia questions correctly.

There are other challenges now available in the app, including Lightning Round, which is a challenge between two randomly selected teams. Whoever gets to 750 points first wins.

Additionally, Words with Friends 2 has some bonus features that makes gameplay a bit more interesting:

  • Swap+ allows you to swap your tiles at any time without losing your turn
  • Word Radar shows you all of the possible tiles that can be played on with the letters you have
  • Hindsight shows you the word you could’ve played to earn the most points after your turn is over
  • Word Strength Meter shows you a gauge of how strong your play is compared to the other possibilities on the board
  • A red exclamation point on the Word Strength Meter tells you if the word is invalid

Some call these features cheating, but since everyone has access to them, it can make the game more exciting.

8. OTR Streamer or Radio OTR

Cost: Free
App Store: OTR Streamer
Google Play: Radio OTR

OTR Streamer (or Radio OTR, if you have an Android) is an app dedicated to vintage Old Time Radio shows. This app has over 13000+ shows for you to enjoy, and it’s free. New shows are added all the time, meaning that the entire Golden Age of Radio is right at your fingertips!

Here are some of the popular shows available on the OTR Streamer app:

  • Burns and Allen
  • Dragnet
  • Gunsmoke
  • Hopalong Cassidy
  • Jack Benny
  • Sherlock Holmes
  • The Lone Ranger
  • This is your FBI

Plus, you don’t have to be on the internet to listen – you can download an episode for later use.

9. TED Talks

Cost: Free
Available on App Store and Google Play

If you enjoy watching TED Talks, you can experience over 3,000 of them on the mobile app. If you’ve never heard of TED Talks, they’re short presentations that have been recorded on video that are meant to inspire and invoke social change.

The talks range from technology to science to the surprises of your own psychology. Some popular talks include “Do schools kill creativity?,” “Your body language shapes who you are,” and “How great leaders inspire action.”

On the app, you can share and save your favorite talks and also listen to them on the go, just like you would an audiobook.

10. Stitcher Radio

Cost: Free
Available on App Store and Google Play

In a previous version of this article, we recommended the NPR app to listen to programs like Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Fresh Air, or Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! (just to name a few).

However, the on-demand internet radio service, Stitcher, lets you listen to these and so much more. The Stitcher app focuses on podcasts, news, and informational radio.

Plus, if you’re interested in getting into podcasts, check out our popular article 19 Best Podcasts Perfect for Seniors, Baby Boomers, and the Older Generation. You can use the Stitcher app to listen to your favorites!

11. Apple Health and Google Fit

Depending on whether you have an iPhone or an Android, Apple Health and Google Fit are great ways to track your health.

Apple Health is included on the iPhone and does the following:

  • Tracks your steps and distance traveled
  • Helps you establish a target bedtime and wake time
  • Encourages you to be mindful
  • Tracks your nutrition (such as carbs, calories, caffeine, etc.)
  • Tracks body measurements, reproductive health, results, and vitals
  • Gives you the option to create an emergency Medical ID card that allows first responders to access your critical medical information from your lock screen (even without a passcode)
  • Allows you to sign up to be an organ donor
  • Saves your health records to make it easier to share with new doctors or family members

You can also connect third-party apps to Apple Health. For example, if you have a FitBit and you track your steps, you can add that information to the health app. If you track your calories with MyFitnessPal, you can add that as well. This makes it easy to get a good overview of your overall health in one easy place.

Google Fit is similar, but it’s available for Android users. Here’s a snapshot of what it offers:

  • Tracks steps, time, distance, and calories to measure your fitness goals
  • Automatically detects any exercise you do and gives you credit for it
  • Makes it easy to monitor your progress with reports

Just like Apple Health, you can also connect your favorite third-party apps so that you have a kick-butt health system.

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