Podcasts offer a great way for seniors to keep their minds sharp, stay informed about different topics and even collect some great conversation starters to connect with friends and family. What’s more, seniors can listen to podcasts while relaxing, driving, cooking or doing chores around the house—or even as a way to shift gears and drift off to sleep.
Podcasts also offer a break from screen time for older adults, which can cause eyestrain and may even be bad for the brain. Instead of reading online news or watching television for entertainment and information, seniors can listen to podcasts and use their imaginations—another great way of engaging the brain. In fact, studies show that listening is more stimulating for the brain than simply reading or watching something.
Listening to podcasts may also be good for the psyche: An April 2022 study found that listening to podcasts can meet basic psychological needs, including social connection and combatting loneliness.
Podcast ideas for seniors
According to Podcasthosting.org, more than two million podcasts were available as of January 2023. There really is a podcast for everything! Whether your older adult enjoys true crime, religious topics, history, finances, science or anything else, you can find a podcast that suits their fancy. Here are some of the top podcast recommendations for seniors:
- Stuff You Missed in History Class: Get your fill of history in this iHeartRadio podcast about historical events and people. Find out the history of everything from vodka making to the Hume and Hovell expedition of 1824.
- Planet Money: Learn simplified ways of making your money work for you, and understand how the economy affects every aspect of our lives.
- Aging in Full Bloom: As its name suggests, this podcast covers all aspects of aging, empowering seniors with information.
- The Alton Brown Podcast: Get tips and tricks for cooking and baking from the “science geek” chef.
- Better Health While Aging: Dr. Leslie Kernisan leads this podcast covering everyday challenges for seniors. Topics include long-term care, estate planning and more.
- Criminal: Love true crime? You’ll hear real-life crime stories and hear from criminals, victims and prosecutors in multiple cases.
- The Not Old – Better Show: Learn about the hottest issues facing the 50-plus crowd, ranging from technology to entertainment and parenting.
- My Care Advisors: Hear experts speak about topics relevant to an aging population, including health, financial planning, caregiving and more.
- Brain & Life: Seniors learn to keep their brains as healthy as possible in this podcast hosted by neurologist co-hosts Dr. Daniel Correa and Dr. Audrey Nath.
- Answers for Elders: This one is great for seniors and their caregivers, addressing topics on navigating later-life care.
You may be wondering how you can get a senior started with podcasts. All you’ll need is an electronic device – typically a smartphone, but some applications offer a browser version so you can connect on a tablet or computer – and a listening application like Apple Podcasts (for iPhone users) or Google Podcasts (for Android users). Your senior may choose to use earbuds or headphones to listen privately.
Many other podcast application choices offer a wide range of features. Some options include:
- Spotify: Download Spotify for free on your Android or Apple device, or get a premium subscription ($9.99 per month) to avoid advertisements. You can listen to podcasts that partner with Spotify. You can also easily switch between songs and episodes, so this might be a good option if you already use Spotify.
- Podcast Republic: This service offers a browser version and a free Android application with a range of listening features, like skipping ahead or back, bookmarking, downloading episodes and organizing your podcasts.
- Castro: This application is free for Apple device users, but there’s a souped-up version for $18.99 annually. Either way, you’ll be able to personalize inbox settings by dragging and dropping episodes, easily download episodes and more.
- Audible: Available for Android and Apple devices, this multipurpose application offers both audiobooks and podcasts. One useful feature is the sleep timer, so you can set a podcast to stop after a certain amount of time. The free download offers limited podcasts and books per month, but you can get Audible Plus for $7.99 per month for unlimited access.
Once you’ve downloaded the application or pulled up the website on your browser (if that’s an option), you can search podcasts, listen to sample episodes and subscribe as desired. When you subscribe, you’ll get notifications when there’s a new episode available.
Most podcast applications will also let you search for podcasts by topic. You’ll also likely receive suggested podcasts based on ones you’re subscribed to.
If you’re still at loss for what to listen to, check out Listen Notes, a podcast search engine. Interested in cooking, for example? Type in the name of your favorite chef. Want a historical podcast? Search your favorite history topic. Fascinated by an author you’ve read recently? Search her name to find interviews.