awesome apps for an eighty year old?
December 10, 2014 11:53 PM   Subscribe

Senior (and friends of senior) mefites: what are fun/funny/amusing/uplifting/enlightening phone apps for an eighty year old?

My eighty two year old mother has just transitioned to a smartphone and I'm looking for some fun apps for her. I'd love to hear about anything that's fun, funny, uplifting and/or enlightening (though no social media apps. she's wary of social media)!

(google is giving me apps which are helpful for seniors, which is not what I'm looking for).

posted by mirileh to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (15 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Anything that lets them be more part of your life: Dropbox for photos, WhatsApp for messaging, etc.
posted by devnull at 1:33 AM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

What are her specific interests? And what platform is her phone?

Without knowing that, here are some general suggestions:

• Some casual games that let her play online against family members -- that would be a nice, low key way to stay in touch with younger relatives, without having to use social media. You could set her up with Scrabble, Boggle, Words With Friends, or Scramble.

• Alternatively, some simply solo-player casual games. One-button games might be ideal if her fingers aren't as agile as they once were. If she has an Apple device, for example, she might like Tiny Wings.

• Tumblr, and set her account to follow some appropriate accounts, like National Geographic's Found Photos, National Geographic Traveler, or Life Magazine. (Technically this is social media, but she wouldn't actually have to interact with it as such -- she could just scroll through the interesting pictures.)

• DuoLingo, so she can learn whatever language she's always wanted to learn. People often assume that seniors' learning days are done, but there's a whole host of research showing that continued learning later in life has major mental benefits.

• If you or another relative are willing to do some ongoing work, you could set her up with Instapaper, and then keep her account stocked with articles you think she would find interesting. (Assuming her eyesight permits her to do that much reading on a small screen.)
posted by yankeefog at 2:38 AM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Any word games are usually a hit. Scrabulous comes to mind. There are lots of wordsearch and crossword type apps as well. And sudoku.

Also, I really like Triple Town. It is a simple sort of "Three of these makes three of this thing. And three of those makes this other thing" but with bears and village people. It is my go-to game on my phone.

I wouldn't go for games that depend upon fast reflexes. Plants vs. Zombies for example, while awesome, requires some fast reactions and movements and probably isn't a good choice. Angry Birds, though, you play at your own speed.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 4:40 AM on December 11, 2014

I think a great transition would be to get her old school games that allow her to get used to the platform.
Things such as Solitaire, Yatzee, Cribbage, Poker, Life, Monopoly, etc.

Think about her current likes and interests and find equivalents in the app store.
posted by John Kennedy Toole Box at 4:44 AM on December 11, 2014

OH! And look for "Ticket to ride". That game is fantastic!! I play it on my iPad constantly. It never gets old.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 4:46 AM on December 11, 2014

I have Scrabble, Big Fish Casino, Fairway Blast Solitaire and Ruzzle on my phone.

Only issues? My old eyes tire squinting at the damn things.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:52 AM on December 11, 2014

Is she religious?
posted by sonic meat machine at 4:52 AM on December 11, 2014

My grandma's #1 favorite is still Angry Birds. She has all of the versions, even Star Wars. (She likes when the birds have new hair styles.) Between that and facebook and solitaire she's pretty much set.
posted by phunniemee at 6:21 AM on December 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Does she like music?

OpenGoldberg .

There's an app, or just youtube playlists.

A good wikipedia app. I use wikipanion a *lot*. But actual facts (well, wiki-facts) about anythign, in an adjustable font. With easy to follow links between ideas. It's the goddamn future, in your hand.
posted by DigDoug at 6:29 AM on December 11, 2014

My 84-yo mom likes Fruit Ninja (or as she calls it, Fruit Niña.) It doesn't require the kind of precision needed for some other things, which she finds difficult due to arthritis and other dexterity issues.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:04 AM on December 11, 2014

I adore Smacktalk for a fun pointless app that's just fun to play with.

Right now the best game I've seen is Monument Valley - it's far more a thinking game than a dexterity game, though some amount of careful manipulation is involved. It's just gorgeous.
posted by Mchelly at 9:26 AM on December 11, 2014

It would be really great to get something specific about her- two if my favourite random apps are Beautiful Tarot for messing around with pretty cards, and Morse-It, for pretending I'm an 1870s telegraph girl, but that's just me... There's lots of great knitting apps for example.
posted by Erasmouse at 10:51 AM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I find using my phone as an ePub/Kindle reader is very comfy. I can turn pages with the holding hand (and give the other hand a rest). Marvin offers the largest font sizes of all iOS apps I've tried (and I've tried a truckload).

I get many happy minutes from Threes (as long as I turn the music off).

#1 gift would be an audio/video of you going through the steps of the system reset, highlighting what shows on screen when, etc. IME, computer noobs of whatever age need to be explicitly taught that, hey, you can always just reset it.
posted by Jesse the K at 1:32 PM on December 11, 2014

She might enjoy the Happier app - it encourages the user to post moments during their day that made them happier. You don't have to add anybody as a friend if you don't want to, it can be text-only or you can choose to include photos, and it's pretty simple to use. It never fails to make me feel better! I recommend following Nataly Kogan, the owner/CEO of Happier - she's great at choosing to share small moments that have a big impact on her day.
posted by meggan at 3:03 PM on December 11, 2014

My 80 year old mother loves Duolingo. Is she ever going to go back to France again? Nope. But she's really enjoying brushing up her dusty French just for her own enrichment, and it the app hits just the right level of cuteness to be fun.
posted by desuetude at 7:53 PM on December 11, 2014

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