Apps for Seniors

Friend and news anchor Diane Ako produces a series called “Aging Well” on KITV4, covering stories of interest to seniors. A few weeks ago, she asked if I knew anyone who could talk about apps for people over 55. I asked my dad who, in turn, provided a couple of likely subject matter experts at Honolulu senior living complexes.

“Would you be able to come on KITV and talk about apps?” Diane asked.

“What’s an app?” came the reply.

And that’s how I ended up the primary source on a story about people outside my personal demographic, talking about apps not designed for me. One upside was the opportunity to use my dad as example of a “tech-savvy senior,” pointing to his love of Facebook (after being skeptical and doubtful of its value for years).

He was a little miffed to be categorized as a senior… which he expressed on Facebook.

The interview gave me an opportunity to do some research on seniors and technology, and on apps targeted at them. Among the things I learned:

  • People over age 65 make up more than 15 percent of the U.S. population, totalling 46 million people.
  • That percentage is expected to climb to 22 percent by 2050.
  • 46 percent of people age 65 or older own smartphones, up to half the rate of every other age group (18-64, ranging from 73 to 84 percent).
  • While half isn’t great smartphone penetration, that’s double the senior ownership rate just five years ago.
  • Smartphone ownership stats do drop as people get even older: 31 percent of people age 75-79 own one, and only 17 percent of people age 80 and older.
  • Whether by smartphone or home internet connection, 67 percent of people age 65 or older spend time online (meaning one third don’t go online at all). Only 44 percent of people age 80 or older use the Internet.
  • While 68 percent, or two thirds, of all U.S. adults use Facebook, only 34 percent of people 65 or older use any form of social media. The typical American uses three social networks.
  • People 65 or older are the only age group where the majority does not use Facebook.
  • Older Americans have a harder time telling the difference between factual statements and statements of opinion, identifying them correctly 20-26 percent of the time, compared to 32-44 percent for people age 18-49.

All these statistics came from the Pew Research Center.

As for apps for seniors, these are the ones I suggested:

Medisafe (Free, iOS & Android): Reminds you to take your pills, keeps track of pill regimens, identifies drug interactions, and can notify family members when you do (or don’t) take your medication.

AARP Now (Free, iOS & Android): News for seniors, events, deals and offers, digital membership card, manage membership and benefits.

BeMyEyes (Free, iOS & Android): Connects the visually impared with volunteers who help them read labels, instructions, buttons, and signs.

GoGoGrandparent: Allows the use of Lyft and Uber by phone rather than an app. Just call 855-464-6872. It’s 27 cents per minute on top of the ride fare. This service has gotten some criticism by basically being a middleman for apps designed to eliminate the middleman, but it’s clearly found an audience.

You can also use your iPhone as a magnifying glass:

To see the official KITV package, click here:

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