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Useful apps and websites for older people

26th June 2017

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.

As we get older, picking up new gadgets and learning to use mobile phone apps might seem like a challenge, but as we become more comfortable with how they work, we can see that these useful programmes benefit our daily lives. After all, technology such as modern curved stairlifts has helped us be more mobile around the home and similarly, apps and websites can help us lead independent and fulfilling lifestyles well into our later years.

From apps that help older people stay in touch with loved ones to websites that help people find the perfect retirement home.

If you want to learn about how technology can improve small tasks from day to day, take a look at our handpicked list of useful apps and websites for older people.

Best apps

Kindeo

Kindeo is an app that helps older people tell their life story on video, capturing important memories and wisdom built up during their lifetime to share with current and future generations of their family.

The founders of Kindeo came up with the idea after losing relatives and wishing they had asked more about their history whilst they were still alive.

The app has been specially designed to ensure it is as easy to use for older people as possible and it employs a simple question based design to help tease out stories about someone’s life. The answer to each question is recorded as part of a short video and in the coming weeks new features mean users can add photos and text to their stories.

The founder of Kindeo, adds, “We have tried to build an app and service that is fun, easy to use and rewarding, making it a collaborative and inclusive experience that brings families closer, places value on the wisdom and knowledge of older people and encourages inter-generational interaction and knowledge sharing.”

The free-to-use app is available in the iPad app store and will soon be available on Android devices as well.

Lumosity

Lumosity is a leading brain training program, available on the web and on mobile devices. Lumosity’s scientists take neuropsychological and cognitive research tasks, or design new ones, and work with game designers to transform them into 50+ cognitive games.

Designed to be both fun and adaptively challenging, Lumosity’s training program is accessible to people of all ages — helping them stay challenged to the full extent of their abilities.

Lumos Labs also has a collaborative research initiative, the Human Cognition Project, which currently partners with over 90 university collaborators. Through the HCP, we grant qualified researchers free access to Lumosity’s cognitive training tasks, assessments, research tools, and, in some cases, limited access to data on cognitive task performance — helping them conduct larger, faster, and more efficient studies.

Playlist for Life

Everyone has a soundtrack that takes them back to a certain place, reminds them of a friend or family member or a significant moment whenever they hear it.

Playlist for Life is founded by writer and broadcaster Sally Magnusson in memory of her mum, Mamie. After her mother developed dementia, Sally noticed personally meaningful music helped her mum.

The website has been in existence for some time, but now an app is being released and this will allow users to create a personal playlist. The app works in association with the Spotify online music service to allow the user to listen to the music immediately.

With the app people can associate a song with memories or moods and different playlist for different occasions start to build.

The app will be live sometime this summer and is available to download on iPhones, iPads and the iPod Touch.

Replay Sporting Memories

The Sporting Memories Foundation released a ground breaking app called Replay Sporting Memories, which allows users to access thousands of sporting memories from years gone by and to share their own to help older people, especially those living with dementia, depression and loneliness.

The app makes these memories instantly accessible, and it is easy for a user to add and save a collection of memories to replay later, reminisce with others, or create their very own vintage newspaper, Sporting Pink.

The foundation is also developing a therapeutic section to help carers and volunteers to trigger the memories of people living with dementia and the app will allow people to access the #OneMillionMemories and other images and stories that have been shared and gathered to provide meaningful visual stimuli and familiar associations to help keep people connected and engaged with family and their communities

Co-founders of the Sporting Memories Network, Tony Jameson-Allen and Chris Wilkins say, “The response from the world of sport and TV has been incredible. Over the past three years the likes of Sir Steve Redgrave, Katherine Grainger, David Weir, David Coulthard and Bill Beaumont have shared their own magical memories and become supporters of the network.”

So if someone wants to relive the 1966 world cup final or another iconic sporting moment, then they can by downloading the app for free from Google Play and the App Store.

Pocket Physio

Care UK, which provides social and health care in the UK, have put their years of experience helping older people into a fitness app that can make it easier to get a sufficient work out at your own pace.

While the great prices of a stairlift have made getting up and down stairs more comfortable, particularly after surgery, simple exercises that help to build your strength and maintain movement are worth considering.

The Pocket Physio app is an easy-to-use guide for older exercisers and offers physiotherapy movements designed to help those recovering from orthopaedic surgery or older people wanting to build up strength. The app features several exercise demonstration videos that are easy to follow along with written text explaining how to carry out the movement correctly for it to be effective.

See one exercise example in the video below.

Group Communications Manager at Care UK, Sheila Roberts says the Pocket Physio app is “just like having an expert physiotherapist in the room with you.

“The exercises in Pocket Physio cover hip and knee replacements, Dupuytren’s Contracture, forefoot surgeries and foot surgery such as subtalar. If you’ve recently had, or are due to receive any of these treatments soon, I recommend you download the app and see how it can help you to make a speedy recovery.”

The Pocket Physio includes a calendar to help people remember any follow-up appointments they need to attend post-surgery, as well as when they can complete their strengthening exercises. The app will also suggest tips for managing post-operative pain, how to make walking with a frame or crutches more comfortable and advice on daily tasks such as bathing and dressing after an operation.

You can download the Pocket Physio app for free from the Apple iTunes store or Google Play for Android devices.

Skype

This communication app has been around for a while but with its ability to connect people all over the world at no cost, Skype is likely to become even more popular with older users.

Free to download, Skype lets you call friends and relatives and connect to other Skype account holders for free via tablet, smartphone or computer. Its video calling function also means older people can visually connect with their children, grandchildren and friends in far flung places.

Find out how you can download and access your Skype account on your desktop computer, tablet device and mobile phone.

Best websites

Bookshare

Do you love to read but find it difficult to see printed text? If so, the Bookshare website, an initiative of the non-profit technology firm Benetech, can helps as it is the world’s largest library of accessible ebooks for people who can’t read standard print.

Members can access over 550,000 titles including literature, bestsellers, nonfiction, vocational manuals, and much more.

Users can also listen to books read aloud with text-to-speech (TTS), follow along with highlighted text, read in enlarged fonts or braille, and customize their reading experience.

The Bookshare books can be read on a number of devices such as computers, smart phones, tablets, MP3 players, and assistive technology devices using a variety of reading tools and apps including Voice Dream Reader, Go Read, and Capti Narrator.

It costs just is $50 per year plus a one-time $25 setup fee to become a member.

RetireMove

Retiremove is an independent website designed for anyone looking for a retirement property for themselves or their parents/friends.

The site not only offers a search map so users can see what is available in the local area, but a huge variety of properties at all budgets whether someone is looking to buy or rent; including those offering extra support and full nursing care should a person need it.

The founder of Retiremove is property journalist, Jane Slade who writes for the national press about retirement property - so users will find great articles, buying guides and news items about downsizing in later life on the website – as well as information about moving with a pet, making the choice between coast, town and country and the kind of facilities people can expect in a retirement development/village.

There are also useful sections on finance, travel, gardening and health. Retiremove is the first with the news on new launches, open days and special offers available to those looking for a home in later life.

TheyWorkForYou

The TheyWorkForYou website is great for older people who have a firm interest in politics as it helps people keep tabs on their elected representatives in the UKs parliament.

The site has information for each elected representative and users just have to enter his or her postcode to find out who their MP is as well as showing information on voting records, recent appearances, and other useful data.

TheyWorkForYou, which was built by the not­for­profit organisation mySociety, also allows visitors to the website to look at recent debates that have taken place and even check the history of political debates.

Which?

If you’re concerned about organising care in your later years, either for yourself or on behalf of an older friend, the Which? Elderly-Care website is a valuable resource for discovering what’s available where you live.

“Our information ranges from financing to organising care and other practical information such as explaining what benefits and allowances are available and how to get a needs assessment and local authority support,” says Which? Elderly-Care.

The website also offers a useful care services directory where you’ll find key information about domiciliary care agencies and support groups in your area, helping you plan ahead for when the time comes that you may need a little extra help around the home.

If you’re going online for the first time, Which? Elderly-Care says: “It's never too late to learn and if you have children or grandchildren, ask them to show you what to do. Encourage them to explain how to use a tablet, for example, but make sure that it's you that does the clicking. Take it a step at a time and focus on the potential benefits these new skills will bring to your life.

“There are many electronic products and systems that use technology to promote health and wellbeing in the home, by monitoring activity, managing risks, increasing security, helping the person manage the important tasks within their daily lives, and bringing support more quickly when things go wrong. Memory aids, telecare and safe walking devices, mobile phones and digital apps - assistive technology all offer invaluable opportunities to help your relative stay safe and be more in control of their own life for longer.”

Image Credit: Pics From The Yesterland, Allan Henderson (flickr.com)