Mobile Apps for Seniors – A Huge but Overlooked Opportunity

Do you know which THE LARGEST circulating magazine in the world is? It’s the AARP magazine – a magazine exclusively for people above the age of 50! 

That’s the power of the seniors. Elderly people are a huge market that is largely underserved right now in terms of mobile apps. This is a massive opportunity for mobile and tech startups. These are the people with a lot of time AND money on their hands, as well as some special needs that are very well suited to be effectively met by mobile apps. 

The time is therefore ripe for disruption in the niche of apps for the elderly. Let’s take a look at some numbers for a perspective on the size and potential of this market.

Size and financial standing of the seniors market:

  • According to WHO estimations, the number of people aged 60+ will reach more than 2 billion people by 2050
  • As per Pew Research Center, 74% of people aged 50 to 64, and 42% of people over 65, own smart phones. An increasing number of users, including those in the 60+ category, use mobile apps in various areas of life.
  • In 2018, the global product and service market for senior people exceeded $436 billion. According to forecasts, the global financial solvency of people aged 60 will reach $15 trillion by 2020.

As you can tell, there is huge potential for paying users here. Not only that, the seniors are also increasingly receptive of technology and have time and again shown willingness to adopt mobile phones, internet and apps for various life activities. 

Online habits of seniors 

  • According to report by Pew Research, 75% of people 65 years or older have used internet. The numbers are remarkably higher for people aged 50-64. 
  • 1 in 4 mobile shoppers in the US is above the age of 55 years.
  • 40% of adults over 65 have a Facebook account.
  • According to the Spanish National Statistics Institute, the percentage of elderly people that use information and communication technology (ICT) has increased by 400% in the last decade.  
  • 25% of people over the age of 65 access the internet from their computers or mobile phones, with smartphones being the most popular.
  • In 2020, 7 out of 10 people (in Spain) between the ages of 65 and 74 used the internet, while in 2009, only 1 out of 10 people in this age group did the same.
  • Research by AARP shows a steep increase in older adults purchasing and using technology during the pandemic, and many are interested in using technology to track their health. 

Undoubtedly, developing mobile apps for the elderly should take centerstage among tech startups as these apps are not only very financially viable but also, this may be the market niche that needs mobile apps the most, to improve their quality of life. Let’s think about the various app categories that are most appealing to elderly people and why.

Most promising app categories for seniors

Health apps

mHealth or mobile health apps are a rapidly growing category and the group that most needs them is undoubtedly the seniors. From medication reminders to health tracking, fall detection, online health reports, fitness/exercise and more, health apps are a necessity for the aging population. 

Connectivity apps

To keep in touch with their family and friends, seniors use video calling apps, messaging apps, and media sharing apps a whole lot. 

A study conducted in Oregon Health and Science University found that older adults using videochat apps like Skype and Facetime reported almost half the estimated probability of depressive symptoms as others who used text messaging apps or no apps. 

Shopping apps

Mobile ecommerce apps that make it easier for older adults to buy groceries, medicines, clothes, or more online are a great way to improve their quality of life. Why would they stand in long queues or deal with impatient counter-staff if they could order easily online. 

Entertainment apps

As you can imagine, elderly people have a lot of time to kill and quality entertainment is hard to come by. Cable TV is hardly any solace and good quality entertainment options are few and far in between. Mobile apps that can engage seniors with good content can greatly improve their everyday lifestyle, and turn them into regular paying customers.  

Personal finance

Older adults, especially retirees need sound financial advice, and wealth management to ensure that their life savings are well invested. They need to be able to strike a good balance between saving for imminent expenses as well as living well today. 

There is a distinct opportunity here to serve our elderly population with innovative, easy and secure apps that can engage them meaningfully and generate a steady stream of revenue. 

Then why do seniors use mobile apps less?

There are a multitude of reasons that modern mobile applications fall short on delivering value to senior members of the society, with issues ranging from design to usability and security. Sometimes, the very adoption of new technology has psychological barriers that need to be addressed. For instance, elderly members may be sceptical about their privacy and security while using mobile apps. Or, they could simply be having difficulty navigating the user interface or having trouble reading the font. 

Some major barriers in mobile app use among seniors

Font and screen size

Most modern mobile apps are designed primarily with younger audiences in mind, like millennials or Gen Z. as a result, the designs are usually slick and minimal. 

Older adults, often with diminishing eyesight and hearing, as well as declining cognitive function, tend to find these apps less than easy to use. 

76% of respondents in a study found small font, screen size, font type, and buttons to be the leading reason for difficulty in using mobile apps. For these reasons, seniors end up spending a long time to complete a simple task, diminishing the value of their experience.

Navigation and Menu

63% of seniors in the aforementioned study cited navigation and menu to be the reason they have difficulty using the apps. The study observed that older adults experience confusion, feel lost, and have difficulty navigating menus on mobile apps. 

Lack of awareness and knowledge

Many older adults have less than desired knowledge of what mobile apps can do for them and how they can use them. As a result of poor understanding, most older adults just don’t realize the benefit these apps can offer, or are sceptical of using them. 

How to develop apps for the elderly?

Answering this question is important for so many reasons. First of all, today’s older adults deserve better mobile experiences. Secondly, younger users of today will be older in a few decades and experience cognitive and vision challenges that necessarily come with age. However, these users will still expect high quality user experiences from the mobile apps they are so used to today. 

So how can mobile app developers make better mobile apps that are more easily usable by older adults, no matter how their aging body limits them? Here are some of the things to keep in mind:

Better design, more readability 

Mobile app developers must design apps that are easily readable by seniors, even those with deteriorating vision. Enlarging font and pictures to better suit all individuals is crucial. 

Today, many apps when pinched to zoom, end up pushing parts of the text outside the screen. Adjusting the font size involves several complex steps. Create highly responsive apps that ensure the text stays within margins when older users zoom into it. 

Designers must use color palates that are easy on the eyes and fonts that are clearly legible. 

Smoother navigation

Hamburger menus, slider menus, find-me-if-u-can menus, can all be very cryptic to use, even for many younger users. For older adults, design menus that are distinctly visible, accessible and understandable. 

Targeted marketing

As we saw, a study showed that most seniors don’t even know what mobile apps can do for them, how to download them ad how to use them. Reaching out to seniors with better marketing campaigns that enlighten them about what apps exist for their convenience and how they can use them will help older users discover apps and use them. 


Mobile apps are one of the greatest developments of the 21st century. Young, mobile, and perfectly healthy people have come to rely heavily on these apps for every part of their daily life. It is easy to infer then, that older adults who often suffer from poorer health and limited mobility can actually live better and more fulfilling lives thanks to mobile apps. 

Yet, mobile app usage, though rising, remains fairly less common among people above the age of 50. This is primarily because modern mobile apps are tailored to younger audiences and do not accommodate special design and navigation needs of elderly people. 

By making small but highly desirable changes to mobile apps in terms of design and distribution can help seniors use mobile apps to better their lives. This is a highly fertile and profitable market, ready for the taking. If you’re already thinking about how you want to build a good senior friendly app, get in touch with our expert app strategists today. 

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