Just as mobile phones have becomes indispensible, apps have become a way of life. There are maps and games and restaurant guides, music players and banking tools. For practically every function one can imagine, there is in fact “an app for that.”
Why shouldn’t the same be true when it comes to social engagement, a critical function in seniors’ health? In fact, many are taking an interest in the use of apps for social engagement. The University of Texas at Austin for instance recently received a $2.4 million grant from the National Institute on Aging for research that will include the use of mobile apps to track seniors’ social interactions.
What are the most creative and popular apps for senior social engagement? These tools run the gamut.
1. Easy Facebook for Seniors
When it comes to staying socially engaged with friends and loved ones, mobile Facebook is a tool seniors can use with relative ease, knowing they will be connecting with a wide range of individuals. This “easy” version features a simplified interface, making it easier for seniors to navigate their way through conversations.
Stitch is a social app for mature adults and seniors. It encourages like-minded people to communicate, socialize one on one, and share group events. Some may even seek romantic companionship here.
This social app has gained popularity because of its immediacy and ease of use. A simple push of a button will allow a senior to connect with a loved one face to face, in real time. It’s a form of social engagement that has proved extremely attractive not just among younger people, but also among older adults who may not have a convenient way to chat with loved ones in person. Skype helps to close the distance even when family may be spread out across multiple locations.
4. Words With Friends
Sometimes social engagement means sitting back and having fun – playing a game, for instance, even with those who are not sitting nearby. This app lets users share simple online word games with friends anywhere in the world. In addition to game play, the app allows users to send each other messages, thus boosting the social component.
GreyMatters is a good example of up and coming social engagement apps, the ones that haven’t broken through to the mainstream but still give a tantalizing taste of what is possible. Designed as a way to help dementia patients maintain their social ties, the app allows the user to upload family photos, pairing each with a bit of text or a recorded comment. This helps seniors stay engaged, while also helping to improve their mental and social functioning.
As housing providers consider the possibilities of social apps, it’s worth taking into account the technology needs of intended users. Seniors will need mobile devices, and they will likely need help setting up and operating their apps. An onsite tech professional, in addition to doing the heavy lifting of network management, also can assist with these simple daily tasks, thus helping drive adoption of these helpful social apps.