This is an article from The Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. in Fairfax Virginia that we thought others may find helpful.
Q. I bought my mother, Charlotte, a tablet for Christmas last month. I thought it was an ideal gift for her, since she is beginning to experience memory loss, and was told that she could benefit from apps that help her exercise her mind and take her medication. I visited her the other day, and saw the box I gave her the tablet in with remnants of snowman wrapping paper still on it. The tablet was in it, still in its original wrapping. I asked her why she hadn’t opened it and she told me that technology was overwhelming for her. I would like to help show her how to use it, so she can get the most out of all it has to offer and have some tools to help her remember some of the things she is forgetting. Do you know of any apps for seniors with memory loss that I can install and walk my mother through? Thanks so much for your help!
A. Technology, such as tablets, can be daunting at first, especially to seniors who don’t consider themselves to be tech savvy. However, once they get over the initial frustration, many seniors (including those experiencing memory loss) are embracing it. They are realizing the benefits of using tablets, including connecting with family, friends, communities, and enjoying books, games, and learning. In fact, according to Pew’s 2014 Report on Senior’s Digital Habits, about 27 percent of U.S. adults age 65 or older own a tablet or e-reader device.
So, how are seniors using their tablets? Below are descriptions of some popular apps that you can download on your mother’s tablet that include memory aids, ways to stay in touch with friends and family, ways to stay mentally fit, and even a new app designed to combat online elder financial abuse:
- Simplicity Center ($4.99) is aimed at making the Internet safer for seniors with age-related challenges, including memory loss or dementia, by protecting them from online predators, phishing, and spam. It enables seniors to stay connected to friends and loved ones online while reducing the chance they’ll be targeted by crooks, by limiting the people with whom they can communicate using email and Instant Messenger. The app can also be set up to allow its user to visit only predetermined websites. Read more in this Forbes article.
- Park ‘n Find ($0.99): Ever lose your car in a busy parking lot? This app features a map that automatically zooms and pans as you move closer to your parking location, and can also remind you when it is time to refill parking meters.
- AroundMe (Free): With a single click, this app locates various points of interest around you including hospitals, ATMs, bars, hotels, pharmacies and even parking! This is good if you get lost, or if you are traveling.
- BugMe! Stickies ($1.99) enables you to set up notes and reminders for birthdays, appointments, etc.
- Google Maps (free) helps you find local locations & businesses, view maps, and gives driving directions.
- Well Being Plus (free) is designed to be a mobile scheduling reminder. Seniors can use it as a daily planner or calendar to remind themselves of appointments or lunch dates, and it can also be used to set reminders of when to take medicine, exercise, and more.
- MedWatcher (free): Similar to Well Being, this app allows seniors to follow up on medical treatments, and it can even provide access to support and help from its online community.
- Find my iPad (free): Quickly locate a lost device on a map, play a sound, display a message, remotely lock your device, or erase all the data on it.
- Remember the Milk (free) app will not only remind you to pick up milk, but will also direct you to the nearest supermarket.
- Red Panic Button ($1.99): If your mother lives alone, if she wanders, or if her daily activities make her prone to injury, this app is a must. With the tap of a big red button, a text message and email alert with GPS coordinates are automatically sent to a pre-selected list of medical contacts.
- Pandora (free): Pandora provides you with free personalized radio stations that will create custom stations based around your favorite artists or songs. It would be wise to set up a playlist with your mother’s favorite tunes, while she still remembers them. Please read our recent article on the healing power of music for those with dementia for details.
- Ambiance ($2.99): This “environment enhancer” features over 2000 sounds, such as “large wind chimes”, to help you unwind, block out distractions, or meditate. The app also allows you to create customized sound mixes and cycle through playlists. In your situation, you can put together a playlist of songs that calm your mother, and others that help her sleep and make her smile. There is also Ambiance Lite, which is free.
- Mint Bills & Money (free) enables seniors to track and organize bills, and even pay them online.
- GasBuddy (free): This app helps you find the closest gas stations with the cheapest gas prices.
Staying in Touch
- Skype (free) is for face-to-face video conferencing. Seniors can chat with grandchildren and other loved ones anywhere in the world.
- Vtok (free) is an alternative to Skype. It brings Google video calls to the iPad.
- Facebook (free) is a great way to see what friends are up to and share updates, photos and videos.
Sharpening the brain
- Luminosity (free): Seniors can play popular brain games designed to help people exercise their mind and stay sharp.
- Brain Fitness Pro ($3.99) employs a series of memory training exercises to increase focus, memory and problem-solving skills.