Books are a huge part of many of our lives.
So, how can you enjoy a great story when your eyesight begins to fail you?
An audiobook player for the elderly might just help. Senior-friendly audiobook players help the visually impaired when standard players are hard to use for the elderly. Especially seniors who struggle with poor vision or their fine motor skills aren’t as sharp as they once were.
How Do Audiobook Players Help?
They help by reading the book to you out loud, so you can still dig in to a favorite novel – without straining your eyes.
But, they have their challenges too – especially for seniors who aren’t as tech-centric as the younger generations. Either the screen is too small, the buttons are too close together or it’s easy to accidentally touch the wrong spot and mess up the playback.
In this guide, I’m going to show you how to shop for audiobook players for the elderly.
I’ll also show you a few free ways to get an audiobook device for seniors. Plus, I’ll recommend a few of my favorite devices that are simple and easy to use.
Let’s get started…
Video Guide: What’s the Best Audiobook Device for Seniors?
Reviews of the Best Audiobook Players for Seniors and the Elderly
Seniors want an audiobook player that is simple, easy to understand, and has buttons and a screen that is easy to read. Here are the best audiobook players for seniors with a detailed review of each model.
The first player on my list is specially designed for visually impaired people. It is able to play DAISY books, mp3, mp4, epub and many other formats. This great player has two built-in human sounding voices which can provide a nice text-to-speech experience. You can listen to audiobooks on the player’s speaker or you can connect headphones to it.
It also supports wireless networking, so you can stream your entertainment directly from the web. There are many audio books, magazines with large print, radio stations, and audio described films available. An additional benefit is a sound recorder, so you can record voice and media with a built-in microphone. The buttons on the device are physical and easily palpable.
Customers are very satisfied with this device. They say that the player is loud enough and the large database of media to choose from is great. The text-to-speech function works very well. On the other hand, it takes some time and practice to be able to use this audio player properly.
What I like:
- Designed specifically for visually impaired people
- It is small but with good battery life
- Plenty of options to listen to, both audiobooks and other audible media
- Some people have complained it’s too difficult to learn to use, since it can be hard for elderly to use the menu on the player
The next item is a tablet, which many people think are the best device for reproducing audiobooks. It is a great device which can provide all-around entertainment for seniors, not just as an audiobook player. The reason I chose Amazon’s tablet is that it comes with pre-installed Audible app so it’s very easy to navigate and find your favorite books.
It comes with a strong battery which lasts for 12 hours, a nice 8-inch display and Dolby Audio speakers which sound great and are very handy if you or your loved one don’t like to wear headphones while listening to media. This one comes with 16 or 32Gb storage which is plenty, and can be expanded.
Possibly the best thing this tablet has to offer to seniors are accessibility features. It has a personal assistant, Alexa, which enables you to do almost everything hands-free. It is now easy for elderly to navigate through menus and find what they need without accidentally clicking on things. This tablet also has an award-winning text-to-speech voice.
Customers who use this tablet claim it is a fantastic product which provides everything that was promised. For your money, you get a reliable device which looks great, has a decent screen and good speakers, everything for $80.
What I like:
- Alexa is amazing and can make your experience fantastic
- Battery life is very good
- Sound is understandable and great for listening to audiobooks
- Some people have pointed out that it isn’t great for multitasking, which shouldn’t be a problem for most seniors
An alternative to a tablet option, the Apple iPod is a great device with many different accessibility features. It’s an overall quality device that many folks are already familiar with using and it serve as a great audiobook player. It has a large 4-inch screen and a battery that lasts for an incredible 40 hours of active use.
Even tech-averse seniors can use the iPod easily for playing audiobooks with some set-up help from a techy family member or friend. You can install the audiobook player app of your choice right on the home screen.
Then, playing the audiobook is as simple as scrolling and touching the one that you want to play. Other icons can even be deleted or hidden if you want to make the iPod an exclusive audiobook player for a more elderly person.
Audiobooks can be downloaded from iTunes app store or you can use any other app you prefer like the audiobooks.com app or Audible which is part of the Amazon eco-system. You can even use multiple apps and not be locked into one certain system.
What I like:
- Easy to use and navigate
- It’s lightweight
- Great screen and sound
- If you want to use it as an audio player only, it is a bit pricey
Use Audiobook.com on an Existing Device
Why not take one of those old tablets or iPads you have laying around and convert into an audiobook player? There are lots of free apps you can choose from to download audiobooks.
Audiobooks.com offers apps for both Apple and Android products. Their apps make it a simple process to download something new to listen to – with just a few clicks. Use the link above and get 2 free audiobooks just for trying them out.
This MP3 player from Timmkoo can be used to play audiobooks as long as you can download them in MP3 or MP4 format (and there are lots of places you can do that too).
I recommend this player because it has a bright, easy to read screen and you can change the background to make it even easier to read. The icons are self-explanatory and helpful too. The player itself it a bit chunkier than many of the skinny MP3 players that are often hard to hold onto. The screen is large too – nearly 4 inches.
To get audiobooks on this device, you’ll need to download them to a computer in MP3 or MP4 format then transfer them via USB cord or Bluetooth. For older folks who don’t use computers, a loved one or friend could hook this device up to it and give them a helping hand.
For seniors who want a small portable device to play their audio books, I really like this model from Sony. It has a large, easy to see screen and, even though the print on the buttons is thin, it is easy to read because it is well contrasted.
This device syncs easily with Windows via the USB cable and comes with earbud headphones (check out other headphone options for seniors here too)
This is a classic mp3 player I chose for its simplicity. If you don’t want all the functions previous devices offer, this might be a good choice for you. It is small and affordable. The player has physical buttons which may come in handy to some users. It has a key to lock and unlock screen and independent volume control.
The battery is great, it is able to play back for up to 70 hours, and needs just 3-4 hours until fully charged. This player supports many audio formats, so you don’t have to worry if it will play your audiobooks. It also supports lossless sound quality for the best possible experience. It has a large 16GB memory which can be expanded, and earphones are included in your purchase.
People are very satisfied with this device since it does what it’s supposed to. It’s a versatile player which is very easy to use. You simply load audiobook files into it using your computer and you’re ready to go. The sound quality it produces is very good so you can understand the book narrator very clear.
What I like:
- Extremely long battery life
- Interface and buttons easy to use
- Audiobook and FM support is great
- Earbuds are uncomfortable for long periods of use (see my list of comfortable earbuds for seniors)
- Doesn’t connect online like others from this list
Features to Consider When Shopping for an Audio Book Player
Not all elderly people are the same and some may have more specific needs than others. Some are more tech proficient than others too.
But, generally, you want to find an audio playing device with a simple user interface. It is important for elderly to be able to navigate and use the audio player easily. It is also good if they are lightweight and volume is easily adjusted with a simple button.
Depending on their preference, seniors can get devices with large screens so they can identify the book and chapter being played more easily.
If you choose a tablet, for example, make sure you install an app that is easy to use and can’t be disrupted with imprecise gestures. On the other hand, some seniors have suggested that tablet screens can be too sensitive and that they prefer smaller players which have physical buttons.
3 Ways to Get a Free Audiobook Players
There are a few different ways to get free audio book devices for seniors and the elderly. Services such as the National Library for the Blind send free devices to your home. Another way is to convert an old iPod or iPad or other tablet so that it plays audiobooks.
1. National Library Service for the Blind
This free braille and talking book service is part of the Library of Congress.
As part of the service, they offer a free player (on extended loan) with free book “rentals.” The books are sent out on a cartridge that plugs into their proprietary player. The player is simple to use with large, color coded buttons. When you finish the book, send it back and trade it for another title.
There are some eligibility requirements to subscribe to this service. Click here to learn more about the NLS eligibility.
2. Convert an Old Device to a Simple Audiobook Device
If your house is like mine, you have several old tablets laying around. Maybe you upgraded to a new model or just stopped using them.
Have you thought of bring new life back to these old dinosaurs by using them as a dedicated e-book player?
Services like Audiobooks.com have free player apps that you can download for Apple and Android devices. Then, you can download their audiobooks right to your device at the touch of a button.
3. Android Tablet or Kindle Fire? Use the Homer Player App!
The Homer Player is an app that you can download on to an Android tablet or a Kindle Fire tablet. This app is extremely simple to use and is made specifically for tech-adverse seniors.
This quick video walks you through the basic operation:
What I really like is this app can make an android tablet or Kindle Fire into a dedicated, stand alone playback device that is simple to use. And, it even blocks other functions, to avoid confusion or issues using it.
There are a few limitations:
- Check your old tablet version, first. It must be running at least Android 5.0 (from Dec 2014) or be able to upgrade to that version.
- The Homer App only plays MP3 files that are DRM-free. But. there are lots of sources for these.
To learn more about the Homer Player app, click here to visit their website.
What About Apple iPad Users? Do We Have an Option Like That?
Unfortunately, no. Not one that simple at least.
There are tons of audiobook player apps on the Apple App Store, but none of them are this simple. Also, most are geared toward playing books from your preferred library.
I couldn’t find any that are easier to use than the built-in, native iBooks app.
If you know of a better option, please let me know in the comments below.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
How Do Seniors Benefit from Audio Books?
Audiobooks are a wonderful way to keep the elderly mind busy and in shape. They are engaging, and elderly can listen to their favorite books again or learn new things that interest them.
Audiobooks are especially good for people with impaired sight since they can enjoy great stories again. They are also beneficial for people who suffer from arthritis and can no longer hold a book in their hands without pain.
Another positive aspect of audiobooks is fighting loneliness. Many seniors tend to get lonely, especially if they are living by themselves. Combined with difficulties mentioned before, things can quickly get depressing. Audiobooks can make a huge impact because a comforting voice reading a great story is just a few clicks away.
At last, the general benefits of audiobooks now benefit seniors too. You can listen while taking a walk, doing things around the house or other activities. It is much easier if you just absorb the material that is delivered to you. You can get exposed to new topics, learn new things or just make your imagination more vivid.
What About Audiobook Player Apps?
In addition to everything mentioned, there are apps available for both Android and iOS that make audio books more enjoyable for seniors.
Audiobooks.com has free Android and Apple apps for listening to audiobooks through their platform.
The Homer Player for Android (discussed in detail above) is an audiobook player designed with elderly people in mind. It has a simple interface (just a list with a start button), you can flip the device to stop and the reproduction speed can be adjusted.
The BookPlayer for iOS is also highly recommended, reliable and simple audiobook player for seniors to use.
Where Can You Get Audio Books for Your New Device?
There are many ways of acquiring audio books, but the most common one is through digital music stores. They can be paid for and downloaded the same way as other files. Many websites and apps provide these services, and you can even get a certain number of audio books free of charge.
Audible is possibly the most famous source to get audio books online. When you register you get one month of free access and then you pay a monthly subscription of $14.95 for access to a huge amount of book titles in every genre. They also offer some audio books for free, so you can search for those too. You can listen to them on your Amazon Fire tablet or simply download the app on your iOS or Android.
Another interesting option is OverDrive. This is a free service provided by your library for which you just need your ID-card. They make it possible to borrow audiobooks the same way you would a regular book, anyplace and anytime. They have apps which are compatible with iOS, Android, Windows and Kindle. So, give it a try.
The free sources I mentioned are Open Culture, Project Gutenberg, and LibriVox. They offer a large number of great audiobooks completely free of charge. Most of the audiobooks they offer are classics because the copyright for those has expired. They make everything possible with help of thousands of volunteers.
Summary and Final Recommendations
I am sure you will be able to find the best audiobook player for you or a person you care about, so you can step into an exciting new world audio books offer. This is an amazing field which can really enrich your life.
Check out my guide to the best CD players for seniors too for even more listening options. And,happy listening!
Do you have another audiobook player you recommend? Or other tips for enjoying audiobooks? Please share your thought in the comments below!