Technology Guide for Seniors
By 2040, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that 80 million people in the U.S. will be age 65 or older.1 Most of these senior adults will either want to—or need to—"age in place," living in their homes securely, independently, and comfortably. Thanks to technological advancements, staying in their homes has become a more realistic choice.
While learning something new may be intimidating, technology can benefit seniors by providing access to transportation and food, monitoring health and wellness, providing news and entertainment, alerting caregivers if problems arise, and keeping them connected with friends and family. Despite natural hesitation, seniors have proven that they can adapt to technology. In 2019, more than half of older adults bought new technology, such as a smartphone, laptop, or smart home device. Roughly 75 percent of seniors with an internet connection reported using it daily. These figures are likely considerably higher today, given the pandemic’s impact on the adoption and usage of technology.1
Below is a guide that summarizes some of the technology devices, apps, and services that can help seniors safely remain familiar with their homes.
Remember that any companies mentioned are for illustrative purposes only. It should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of securities. Investing involves risks, and any investment decision should be consistent with your objectives, time frame, and risk tolerance.
The Best Phones and Tablets for Seniors
Cell phones are almost universal, with 92 percent of adults in the U.S. aged 65 and older owning one. A basic flip phone may allow the user to send texts, make calls, and take pictures. That might be enough for many seniors. Conversely, a smartphone may be the best choice if they are seeking additional features, such as mobile apps, video chatting, internet access, GPS tracking, and a touch screen.2
SeniorLiving.org tested and researched dozens of senior-friendly cell phones and compiled a list of devices. These phones have features that meet many of the specific needs and lifestyles of seniors, including big buttons or icons, bright screens, loud and adjustable speakers, hearing aid compatibility, and an easy-to-grip design.
Phones and Tablets for Seniors in 20222
- Jitterbug Smart3 from Lively—Best Smartphone for Seniors
- Samsung Galaxy A13 from T-Mobile—Best Battery Life
- Apple iPhone SE—Best Advanced Smartphone for Seniors
- Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G from Mint Mobile—Best Smart Flip Phone for Seniors
- Cell Phones
- Verizon Kyocera DuraXV Extreme—Best Cell Phone for Seniors with Hearing Loss
- Snapfon ez4G—Easiest to Use Senior-Friendly Cell Phone
- Consumer Cellular Link II—Least Expensive Senior-Friendly Cell Phone
- Jitterbug Flip2 from Lively—Best Flip Phone for Seniors
- Kyocera DuraXE Epic from AT&T—Most Durable Phone for Seniors
- Consumer Cellular GrandPad—Best Tablet for Seniors
Best Mobile Apps for Seniors
Many popular apps come preloaded on cell phones. Others can be downloaded for free or purchased through the Apple App Store for Apple devices or Google Play for Android devices. Online stores, like Amazon, and brick-and-mortar stores, like Macy's and Walmart, have mobile apps that make it easy to shop and schedule delivery via your mobile device. Apps like Zoom, FaceTime, and Facebook Messenger connect seniors to friends and family. There are also myriad entertainment apps for games, videos, music, and audiobooks.
- Free apps for seniors:3
- Magnifying Glass + Flashlight—helps with reading, for example, a menu in a dark restaurant
- GoodRx—helps save money on prescriptions
- Words with Friends 2—play with friends and family virtually
- Medisafe—manages medications
- LastPass—keeps passwords in one place
- Google Maps—gives directions and remembers where the car is parked
Virtual Retirement Communities
For seniors living at home who need only minimal care, virtual retirement communities are becoming more popular. The virtual community is staffed by a team of professionals who organize services for members, including transportation, scheduling medical appointments, grocery shopping, organized group outings, and aid in applying for benefits. Just like in a traditional assisted living facility, the virtual retirement community allows seniors to connect with other people of their own age.1
The moment seniors stop driving has a significant impact on their ability to remain independent and their mental health. With apps such as Uber and Lyft, seniors who have given up their cars are no longer confined to home. If the senior doesn't have a smartphone or isn't comfortable using these apps, family members or caregivers can always arrange for rides on behalf of the senior, communicate with the driver, and monitor their rides to ensure they arrive safely.
In addition, there is a lesser-known service called GoGo Grandparent, which is built for older adults and people with disabilities. Seniors can order rides, get groceries and prescriptions, and more—with or without an app. Check out their website for more information.
Medical Alert Systems
We've all heard the cliche “I’ve fallen and can't get up" commercial. But falls by seniors are no laughing matter. Pew Research reports that, each year in the U.S., one in four adults aged 65 and older experience a fall. Wearing a medical alert device allows the individual to get help if needed. These tech-enabled devices and services run from basic to advanced and can keep seniors safe at home and outside. By wearing a pendant around the neck or wrist, seniors can discreetly have 24/7 emergency support. Pushing the alert button connects seniors to a call center, where they can speak to a trained operator who will arrange the appropriate medical assistance. Some more robust systems have features such as fall detection, companion apps, activity monitoring, and caregiver integrations. Most equipment has a one-time upfront cost plus a monthly service fee.1
Video Chatting Apps and Services
Technology also makes staying in touch with friends and family much easier. As we all learned during the pandemic, free services like Zoom, Skype, and FaceTime let seniors connect virtually with loved ones. These services can also facilitate telemedicine, where patients and healthcare professionals can connect for virtual appointments, which helps manage the need for in-person doctor appointments in certain situations.
While several smart home devices are on the market (think Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant), they are not very popular with seniors—or necessary. One smart home device that may make especially good sense for seniors is a doorbell camera. These devices can be affixed to a front door and connected to a computer, phone, tablet, or TV. They allow the senior to see who is at their door without opening it, adding to their sense of safety in their home. They can also be set up to send alerts when packages are delivered to avoid theft.4
Food Delivery Services for Older Adults
Grocery shopping can become a difficult task for seniors, yet it is one of the most critical to maintaining their independence. The rise in food delivery apps is a game changer, making it easy to order online and have groceries and meals brought right to their doorsteps. Popular grocery delivery services include Instacart, AmazonFresh, and FreshDirect. For those who like to cook, a growing number of companies deliver pre-set meals, including HelloFresh, Blue Apron, and Home Chef. Of course, for those who prefer take-out, there's Uber Eats, DoorDash, and Grubhub. What's great about these apps and services is that family members, regardless of their proximity to their aging loved one, can place orders on their behalf—periodically or on a recurring basis.1
For More Information
As financial professionals, we are interested in much more than just our clients' financial well-being and welcome discussions regarding other important aspects of your life. If you want to talk about how technology can help you or a loved one better "age in place," don't hesitate to contact us. Our office can point you in the direction of additional resources that you may find helpful.
The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG Suite, LLC, is not affiliated with the named representative, broker-dealer, state, or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.
1 SeniorLiving.org, December 7, 2022
2 SeniorLiving.org, November 7, 2022
3 SeniorLiving.org, November 3, 2022
4 AARP.org, August 1, 2022