The Best Android, iPad or iPhone Apps for Seniors

There are over two million apps for iPhones and iPads in the App Store and the Google Playstore has just as many choices. With millions of apps to choose from how does one find the app best for him or herself? I have narrowed down the choices for you and I am going to share about some essential Apps for elders highlighting Apps for Seniors living alone as well as a memory App.

Best Android, iPad, iPhone Apps for Seniors in RI

Today a smart phone that fits in one hand has the computing power greater than room sized computers of the not so distant past . The first computer called the ENIAC was built 1943 and completed 3 years later in 1946 occupied 1,800 square feet and weighed almost 50 tons.

Like computers smart phones and tablets have a central programming language called the Operating System. Today there are two main Operating systems for smart phones and tablets. Apple iOS is the operating system for Apple iPhone and iPad. By 2020 Apple will release a new operating system for the iPad. Android phones and tablets run Android OS by Google. Unlike iOS that runs only on Apple devices. The Android Operating system runs on several brands of devices, like Samsung, Motorola, LG for example.

Both iOS and Android Operating systems have frequent updates, some major and frequent minor. The updates provide fixes, enhances and often resolve security vulnerabilities. The operating System versions are identified by number followed by a decimal point. The Android OS major version updates are also identified by names of sweet deserts like nougat, and ice cream sandwich.

The Operating System, or OS short , determines what apps will run on a computer, smart phone or tablet. In this article I will refer to a smart phone and tablet also as a device.

What is an App ?

App is short for application. It is a program or utility that accomplishes something. An App needs to be installed on a device to use it. Apps are found and installed from an App store which ironically is an App itself. Apple and Google have their own App stores, Apple’s store is called the App Store. Google calls it’s store Google Play Store. There are millions of free apps that are sponsored by advertisements in the App Apple or Google stores. Apps without Ads can be purchased for typically around ten dollars or less.

Apps for Seniors Living Alone

One of the greatest ways smart phones and tablets benefit seniors, especially those living alone is by using by using for medical related Apps.

It is important to note that the Apps installed on smart phones or tablets are not a substitute for an actual medical identification or medical alert system.

There are numerous types of medical related Apps. Almost every smart phone and tablet come with ICE (In Case of Emergency) Med ID and Emergency Contact capabilities built in. For example, on an iPhone one can set up emergency contact information and medical history in the Apple Health App. For Android users the actual steps will depend upon the version of Android OS. Android’s ICE can typically be set up from the Contacts app under the Groups section. Once set up, the information can be accessed from Apple and Android devices on the lock screen without using a password. This enables emergency personal access to the information about medical history as well as who to call in case of emergency.

Apps for seniors living alone here in Rhode Island like Red Panic Button and Siren GPS enable a person to call for help acting like a medical alert system but require screen to be unlocked to access so if a person is unable to do so in an emergency this could present a problem.

By tapping the Red Panic Button App or widget one can contact 911 and send their location to the police, paramedics, or fire department, even send an emergency message, including optional audio or video file, to any email, phone number or Twitter with a press of a button. Red Panic button also works with the Apple Watch.

MediSafe Medication Reminder is another one of the medical Apps for seniors living alone. The App includes Med reminders, health monitoring by doctors and caregivers, drug interaction info. MediSafe is HIPPA compliant.

Help Me Ronda smart device help for elders and disabled

Memory Apps for Seniors

Luminosity is an App that offers brain training games that include memory, cognition, math and language games. Like many apps, Luminosity offers a free and paid version. Another App, Words with Friends an online game allows one to play a Scrabble-like game with others online and can help with memory and connection with others.

Music Apps, in addition to being entertaining can be used to improve memory. Apps like Pandora enable one to build music playlists by a specific artist offering a variety of songs from a specific era. Pandora is not considered one of the memory apps for seniors but using Pandora playlists with familiar songs can promote a sing along that stimulate memories. Pandora offers an add supported free version.

Essential Apps Download

In this article I have highlighted just a few best android, iPad or iPhone Apps for Seniors including links to the Apps on the list of Essential Apps for Elders that I mentioned. To locate the App on the list that I have not provided a link for in this article, just type in the App name into a search engine like Google or Bing; or search directly for the App by name in the App store being aware that several Apps by the same name or description may show up.

To download the complete list of ‘Essential Apps for Elders’ click HERE

Alexa Skills and Google Actions for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Alexa skills - Google actions for blind - visually impaired

Amazon skills or Google actions. The concept is the same. An Amazon Alexa skill or Google Home Action is simply a capability of the personal digital assistant built into a Smart Speaker. In this article we will consider the user experience for the visually impaired using two of the popular Smart Speakers’ capabilities, Amazon Alexa Skills and Google Actions.

Physical Description of Amazon Echo and Google Home

We are going to look at two Smart Speakers, Amazon Echo and Google Home. Both are cylindrical devices. The physical dimensions of the Echo are 5.9″” × 3.5″ × 3.5″, and weighs 29.0 oz. Google Home 6” tall and 4 inches in diameter, and its weight is just over a pound, it’s about and includes a single monaural speaker near the base. The Echo’s speaker covers 360 degrees. On the back of Google Home is a single button that will turn the microphone on and off or reset the unit if held down. The Google Home’s volume control is on the top face and controlled by moving finger counter-clockwise around the outer edge of the control face. The Echo speaker has three buttons on top, one to mute the speaker, two for volume high or low. The separate locations of the mute and volume control buttons make Google Home more physically accessible for the blind and low vision.

Setup of Amazon Echo- Google Home  Smart Speakers

Setting up and controlling a Smart Speaker

The initial setup of both Amazon and Google’s Smart Speakers includes setting up a required WiFi connection to the internet. A person with low vision can accomplish this using accessibility settings for low vision on a computer and visiting the Amazon Alexa web app or with the Alexa app using with VoiceOver feature on smart phone or tablet. The Google Home smart phone app works with VoiceOver or TalkBack screen reader included on Android devices. Once the initial setup is completed the Smart Speaker requires little or no visual interaction. This makes Smart Speakers ideal digital assistants and user experience for the visually impaired.

Both Amazon Echo and Google Home include physical controls for volume and microphone, functionality replaceable by voice commands. Amazon and Google digital assistants are activated by using a wake word “Alexa” for the Echo speaker and “Hey Google” or “Ok Google” for Google Home speaker. This means that they are always listening, however the speakers can be disabled by voice control but need to be reactivated by physical control buttons on the Speakers.

A Personal Digital Assistant can read to the Visually Impaired

Electronic books and audio books capabilities have opened a world of reading material once limited to those with low vision and blindness.

Amazon Echo smart speakers read books purchased from Audible in the voice of a professional actor or the author themselves. Alexa reads Amazon Kindle books in her own voice which can be slowed down or sped up by voice control. Google Home can read audio books purchased from Google Play store.

Using the YouVersion Bible Skill for Amazon Alexa, one can listen to the Bible, hear the Bible verse of the day by installing the Bible App for Voice, and even listen to daily reading plans picking up where leaving off the day before by linking a YouVersion account to the skill. Bible App for Voice is also available on Google Home without having to install an app. Just start with “Ok Google” followed by the appropriate commands to read several different Bible versions, listen to verse of the day and create customized Bible reading plans.

Skills and Actions create Unlimited possibilities for the Visually Impaired

Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant personal digital assistants currently have tens of thousands of skills each creating unlimited possibilities for the visually impaired and blind to interact audibly with the world. In addition to listening to audio books, Alexa and Google Assistant’s capabilities include interacting with friends and family, setting timers, alarms and reminders, controlling lighting, shopping, listening to news and weather and playing games just to name a few.

Smart Speakers Enable Easy Access to Music Benefiting the Elderly, the Disabled and Those Recovering From Illness

smart speaker music benefits elderly and disabled in RI

Listening to Music

With the constant changes in technology one thing that has not changed, speakers are used for listening to music.

A smart speaker is basically like the speakers we’ve used all our lives, however what make a smart speaker different is that it has intelligence built-in called a Personal Digital Assistant or PDA for short. A PDA provides voice assistance by responding to voice commands.

In this article, I am going to share the first of five considerations that will help you to choose a new Smart Speaker, or better use a Smart Speaker. you already own.

Playing music is one of the most popular ways people use their Smart Speakers. A Smart Speaker with a Personal Digital Assistant makes it possible and easy for someone to play any song at any time.

Smart Speaker With PDA Eliminates CDs

Smart speakers eliminate the need to operate a CD player, tune into radio stations and most importantly choose the music we want to hear. Tuning into radio stations by voice benefits those who are sight-impaired and may not otherwise be able to see the dial. With two or three words, Alexa (or Hey Google, or Hey Siri) play Frank Sinatra, for example.

Music is especially beneficial for elders, the disabled and those recovering from illness. Music has been proven to improve psychological health, memory, stress reduction, even boost the immune system. Music therapy is used for Dementia treatment and Alzheimer’s disease.

Singing-along with a Personal Digital Assistant can help stimulate memories, improve symptoms of depression and motivate movement and exercise, even recover faster from illness.

Speaker Sound Quality

smart speakers with personal electronic digital assistant eliminates CD players

One we have decided to purchase a Smart Speaker for ourselves or our elder family member, we need to consider sound quality.

If you ever compared a transistor radio’s tiny speaker and a high fidelity stereo then you know speaker quality is important to enjoying music with different quality speakers. Like their predecessors, not all Smart Speakers offer the same sound quality.

Sound quality is especially important to note when choosing a Smart Speaker for those with hearing loss including an elder family member.

The Amazon Echo Dot, Echo Tap and Google Home Mini are the lowest priced smart speakers. Their sound quality is better than a transistor radio, however the sound quality is not as good as their higher priced Smart Speakers and Smart Displays from Amazon or Google; Amazon Echo Plus, Echo Show, Google Home Max or Google Home Hub.

The Apple HomePod is a high-quality smart speaker and priced much higher than lower quality Amazon Echo and Google Home. Google’s high-end smart speaker, Google Home Max that compares with Apple’s HomePod in quality and price.

The Amazon Echo Plus is an improvement over the original Echo speaker’s sound but does near the same quality as Apple HomePod or Google Home Max. Amazon offers a sub-woofer and bundles it with two Echo speakers for a comparable sound quality as well as price. Amazon Echo and Google Home are mid-priced Smart Speakers with decent sound.

Alternatives to the most popular Smart Speakers that offer great sound

Smart speakers made by Amazon, Google, and Apple are the most popular and have their own Personal Digital Assistants Alexa , Google Assistant and Siri.

If Alexa is your Digital Assistant of choice you have the option of using a Smart Speaker like the Sonos One that has great ratings for sound quality in a slightly better price point then other Smart Speakers in its’ sound quality category. Sonos One works with dozens of streaming services including Amazon Music, Google Play store and Apple Music.

Amazon Alexa is also available on more third-party speakers than Google Assistant, including the Facebook Portal smart display.

JBL makes a speaker, the JBL Link 300 that has Google Assistant personality built in.

Both Sonos One and JBL Link 300 work as a Smart Speaker and a Personal Digital Assistant like the Amazon Echo and Google Home speakers and use Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology.

If you are going to use your Smart Speaker in a Smart Home environment it is important to note that Sonos One and JBL Link 300 do not function as Smart Home hubs but can control your smart lighting if you have a smart hub. Amazon Echo plus has a built-in hub. Smart hubs are another consideration outside the scope of this article.

If you already own a Smart Speaker

Echo Dot Smart Speaker connection help for elderly and disabled in RI

If you are not satisfied with your Smart Speaker’s sound quality and it is a Smart Speaker from Amazon or Google you do not need to replace it. Amazon Echo and Google Home speakers can be connected to most non-smart, yet higher-quality Bluetooth speakers.

Hold on to your favorite Non-Smart Speaker

If you already have a non-smart speaker and you are happy with the sound quality Amazon has a way to keep using your old favorite. The Amazon Echo allows you to connect your speaker 3.5 mm audio cable.

It is not that simple if you have a Google Home mini. There are procedures on the internet for modifying your Home mini so you can add a 3.5 mm speaker jack . If you are not comfotrable modifying your Home Mini you can purchase Chromecast audio to connect your Google Home Mini to your favorite speak that has a 3.5 mm audio input.

To Stream or Not to Stream

Play the music you own

If you or your elder family member have invested in music CDS you will want to know which Smart Speaker that allows you to play the music you purchased.

Google allows you upload your own music to Google Play Music to play with your Google Home speaker and Apple allows you to upload your music to Apple Music so you can play on a HomePod.

Amazon has discontinued the ability to upload music to Amazon Music service and existing users will no longer be able to store and play their own music that they preciously uploaded to Amazon Music. Amazon music still offers millions of songs can be played by subscribing to Amazon Prime music or Prime unlimited service.

If you are still buying and listening to CDS and listening to traditional radio broadcast over the air you will find that a Smart Speaker gives you more choices and control over what do you listen to and when you listen to it. If you purchased alot of CDS you will find that you will save money and physical storage space by streaming music

Amazon Music, Apple Music, Google Red and Google Play Music

If you have previously purchased music from Amazon , Google or Apple then choosing a smart speaker may be a simple choice between purchasing Amazon , Google and Apple. Smart Speakers. All three have subscriptions where you can play music that you do not own for a monthly fee.

Internet Radio

Another way to listen to music with a Smart Speaker is by playing music online, called streaming. In recent years more music is being listened to uon-demand.

Internet radio enables more radio stations than ever before, including stations that were once geographically limited by radio stations that broadcast over the airwaves. Amazon, Google and Apple Smart Speakers support streaming music from the most popular music streaming services, Pandora and Spotify and internet radio from popular services iHeartRadio and TuneIn.

Smart Speakers and Beyond

in home smart device setup for the elderly and disabled in RI

A Smart Speaker is often the first purchase when getting started in the world of internet of things.

The three most common Personal Digital Assistants have different personalities and do not communicate the same way. You might say that they are from different planets. The term often used is ecosystem.

Once you choose Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri for your Digital Assistant you have chosen an ecosystem you will need to purchase compatible additions like smart bulbs and plugs for example that are compatible.

Smart speakers’ price range varies greatly, but due to technology like Bluetooth you can own a lower prices smart speaker and still get high quality sound by connecting to a higher quality Bluetooth or 3.5 mm input.

Amazon, Google and Apple have very easy to use you Smart Speaker to listen to your favorite music any time.

Independence through dependence on Technology For Elderly And Disabled Persons In Rhode Island

Smart Speakers assist Elders in maintaining independence, autonomy and social connections

In my previous blog post titled Smart Speakers and Personal Digital Assistants made SIMPLE I give a brief introduction to the Smart Speaker and begin to talk about the Personal Digital Assistant and uses for a Smart Speaker.

In this blog post I am going to continue share with you some ways Smart Technology can alleviate concerns we all have as we age like maintaining independence and autonomy, social connections and happiness.

A Smart Speaker can help us live independently

Smart Speakers with a Personal Digital assistants are helping individuals live independently with things like remembering appointments, taking medication, locating misplaced items to shopping, product and food delivery. Fresh, organic groceries can now be ordered from an Amazon Echo speaker in a city with a participating Whole Foods Market with Prime Now.

Smart Speakers help keep us safe by helping to avoid avoiding falls. See my previous post 3 Most Common Health and Safety Concerns Alleviated with Smart Speakers for more information about this topic .

Smart Speakers can help us stay healthy and happy by maintaining social connections

Smart Speakers are helping us stay healthy and happy by maintaining connections with friends and family, especially family members with busy lifestyles and who live in different cities than we do.

Smart Speakers with video screens like Echo Show by Amazon, Google Hub or Facebook Portal are bridging the communication gap between grandchildren who use their phones primarily for texting and watching YouTube videos video and their grandparent who may not even own a computer, smartphone or tablet.

The return of family photos and movies

More people are taking photos and movies than ever before, yet we see less photos than ever. Smart Speakers with video screens allow family photo album sharing. A family member can take photos or videos on their smartphones and share with their family members. To view the latest family photos, an elder simply says “Alexa, view my family photo album” from their Smart Speaker.

Addressing accessibility and privacy concerns

Smart speakers can benefit those with mobility issues, hearing and sight impairment. Smart speakers are always listening for commands so this raises privacy concerns. Click here and scroll to the bottom to read my blog post where I address accessibility and privacy. makes choosing and using a Smart Speaker SIMPLE

Technology can offer so many choices that the elder and family can get overwhelmed. Taking it slow and keeping it simple is a way to alleviate the stress that adding technology to life can impose.

I make choosing and using a Smart Speaker simple for the elder and their family by talking with the persons who the Smart Speaker will benefit. I find out about the individual and their families, their needs and preferences. In addition to custom fitting you with the right device, I can also program the devices for specific needs.

If you already own an Alexa, Google or Apple device I will help you get more out of your device than looking up information or listening to your favorite song.

I recommend just what is needed, no more, no less to get you off to a comfortable and peaceful start with your Smart Speaker or add to your existing Smart Home technology.

Call me today to schedule our free one-hour meeting and you can decide for yourself if Smart technology will be beneficial for you.


3 Most Common Health and Safety Concerns Alleviated with Smart Speakers For Elders In RI

tech support for elder and family

Smart speakers are helping elders and their families address, and even alleviate their shared concerns.

Fall Prevention

How does having a Smarter Home help avoid falls?

According to the National Council on Aging Falls Prevention Facts, one in four Americans aged 65+ falls each year. Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.

Some key ways to prevent falls are increasing physical mobility, improving home and environmental safety with home modifications including smart home technology, and reducing medication impact on falls.

Smart Lighting

A common way falls occur is with improper lighting.
Using Smart lighting with sensors and voice control to light the way from the bedroom to bathroom in the night hours is one way to avoid the lighting impact on falls.

Medication Reminders

Improper use of medication can cause falls in the home.
To reduce medication impact on falls, a personal digital assistant can remind an individual to take their medication at the proper time. The assistant can even be taught to state which medication and dosage to take and when.

We all can’t always be there, nor does our elder want us to be.

With an Amazon Echo Show, for example, a family member, friend or even professional can drop-in for a video visit at med time. I will explain more about drop in visits in my next blog post.

Remote Control

Some more examples of ways Smart Speakers help avoiding falls include : making phone calls and controlling the TV with voice remote control; using a video doorbell used to see who is at the door without scaling the stairs or opening the door to unknown persons.

Danger Alerts

Supported Amazon Echo smart speakers can be configured with Alexa Guard to detect specific sounds, such as the sound of smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, and glass breaking or a security system alarm. When it detects those sounds, it can send a notification on your phone letting you know that there is a threat at your or your elder’s home.

Loneliness, depression and cognitive decline

Independence loss and isolation can result in loneliness, depression and cognitive decline for the disabled and elderly.

Video Visits are an Antidote for Loneliness and Depression

Amazon Echo Show, Google Home Hub and Facebook Portal enable family and friends to have video visits without having to learn how to use a computer smartphone or tablet.


Since Smart Speakers are able to detect a voice almost anywhere in the room those with mobility issues can benefit greatly with a personal digital assistant from controlling lighting to being able to answer the doorbell to name a few examples.

Hearing and sight impairment does not limit an individual from using a Smart Speaker. A personal digital assistant can enable someone who is sight impaired to enjoy books read to them by their personal assistant or a person with a hearing loss can use a Smart Speaker with a video screen communicate with their digital assistant by the use of closed captioning.
Smart speakers still work well for those who have moderate hearing and sight impairment with further customization.

How about Privacy?

Smart speakers are always listening for commands. This raises privacy concerns..

Companies like Google are being examined more and more by the Federal government regarding what they do with our private information. Regarding Alexa, for example, Amazon’ stand is that Alexa is listening for the wake word, i.e. “Alexa,” and does not store any information spoken if the wake word is not used or if the device is not activated by pressing a button on the smart speaker.

If you don’t want the Smart Speaker to listen at all, you can push the microphone button to mute  sounds in the environment. Cameras can be also be disabled with the push of a button or voice command. makes choosing and using a smart speaker SIMPLE.

I do this by sitting with the persons who the Smart Speaker will benefit  and find out about the individual and their families, their needs and preferences. In addition to custom fitting you with the right device, I can also program the devices for specific needs.

If you already own an Alexa, Google or Apple device I will help you get more out of your device than weather forecasts or listening to your favorite song.

Free one-hour consultation

I recommend just what is needed, no more, no less to get you off to a comfortable and peaceful start with your Smart Speaker or add to your existing  Smart Home technology.

Call me today to schedule our free one-hour meeting and you can decide for yourself if Smart technology will be beneficial for you.


Smart Speakers and Personal Digital Assistants made SIMPLE

smart home speaker setup service for elders and disabled in RI

One of the most popular type of Smart Home Devices is a smart speaker.

What makes the speaker smart is a built-in personal digital assistant.

The brain of a personal digital assistant is in the cloud, a term used for a collection of computing devices or servers, that serve information to you on demand.

Personal Digital Assistants

If you have a Smart phone you actually already have a personal digital assistant.

Google Assistant (Android phone) or Siri (iPhone) are the personal digital assistants built into your phone.

Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri

The most popular smart speakers and their built-in digital assistants are Amazon Echo with Alexa, Google Home with Google Assistant and Apple HomePod with Siri.

Facebook came out with its’ own smart speaker with a screen called the Portal. The Portal has an intelligent camera that follows you around as you move about the room during a video chat.

The Portal is not the only, or first, smart speaker to incorporate a screen and camera. Amazon’s Echo show and Google Home’s Hub smart speakers have their own built-in screen and camera.

Facebook Portal uses Alexa, and eventually Google Assistant, for its’ built-in digital assistant.

Uses for Smart Speakers

Smart Speakers with personal digital assistants are becoming increasingly popular in homes used to play music, news and weather; look up information, set reminders, create shopping lists to controlling lighting, doors and appliances, to name a few.

Thrive in a Digital World

in order to keep smart technology simple, instead of covering each one in this blog. I will go into more detail about each smart speaker in future blogs.  Stay tuned and I will advise you on how Smart home devices can help you or your loved ones maintain independence and thrive in a Digital World.