It just makes sense!
For many elderly people, listening to music triggers happy memories. And, these memories, lead to a stress-free and relaxed mind. Seniors who live alone or are unable to move about their homes due to limited mobility or vision, often turn to music as a source of entertainment.
Some seniors like listening to their favorite radio shows. Others prefer to listen to music. MP3 players are especially good for this because they do not have to worry about bad signals or the station not playing their favorite songs. So, here are a few of the best MP3 players for the elderly and seniors.
Video Guide: MP3 Players for Seniors
Looking for more details? Here are my reviews for each device and the reasons I recommend them for seniors.
Music can be therapeutic for anyone. This is especially true for an elderly person. If you are looking for a good music player that can offer a lot to a senior, the HIFI Walker Bluetooth MP3 might be the best bet.
One of the main things that you want to find is a large screen. This particular MP3 player comes with a plentiful 2-inch high-definition screen which makes it easy to read the artist and song title.
The equipment itself is also near perfect. Not only does it have a durable build quality which makes it strong enough to withstand occasional drops from a loss of dexterity. It also features a distinctive scroll wheel for controls which makes it extremely tactile and easy to control even for those that might have trouble seeing clearly.
It is thick and chunky and doesn’t feel delicate in older hands.
The actual system is extremely easy to use with physical buttons for everything that you could possibly want. You can pause, play, go back, go forward, or even repeat songs with a single physical button press.
Therefore, you don’t have to worry about touchscreen sensitivity issues or having an awkward user-interface to interfere with the user. But, the buttons are the same color as the background which is a bit harder to see.
All in all, this is a very value oriented MP3 player available at an affordable price point with exceptional sound quality due to the inclusion of a Texas Instruments DAC. It makes for an even better option for an elderly person given its tactile feedback and large screen display.
The Sony NWZ-E393/4 Series MP3 player is a digital audio player that seniors will love because it has a thicker look and feel. It’s even being marketed as a ‘next generation walkman’. This is a hassle-free and large button MP3 player with easy to use buttons that will give tactile feedback. Many seniors and elderly people vastly prefer this to ‘touch sensitive’ devices with a smooth surface.
I also like that this player has a little more “heft” to it. It doesn’t feel delicate like many MP3 players I have reviewed. It is a bit thicker and you are really able to feel it in your hands. This is important for seniors with arthritis or poor dexterity in their fingers and hands.
The LCD color screen is crystal clear, but at just 1.77 inches diagonally some users may feel that this is a little small. The good news is that it is easy to learn how to use the device, so you don’t have to pay too much attention to the screen once you are used to it.
You can charge the player via USB or the included wall charger, and the battery should last for about 35 hours of playback. Loading songs is simple, and songs are sorted by artist or by album.
Most popular audio formats are supported, and the player can even be used as an external drive for some other systems. It supports wired headphones only, not Bluetooth ones, however the lack of Bluetooth support is likely a non-issue for most users. Wireless headphones add extra hassle, meaning more devices to lose, and more things to have to charge.
Generally, touch screen devices are easier for many seniors and elderly to use. Touching the word or icon for the task you want to accomplish is a bit more intuitive.
That’s just one reason I recommend this portable MP3 player available on Amazon. It has a very intuitive, easy to use interface with a clear, large screen that is easy to use. It also has the familiar MP3 control “buttons” at the bottom although in a touch screen format.
Another reason I love this MP3 player for older adults? It has built-in speakers and can be used without headphones. So, if hearing aids interfere with headphones or for elderly people who just don’t want to use them, this can be a great choice.
This is a multiple use device too because it includes a radio, plays videos, acts as voice recorder, and even as an e-book reader. The screen may be too small to be a functional e-book reader for older adults without a good pair of reading glasses.
Of course, touch screen devices are more of a concern if they are dropped because the screens are a bit more fragile. But, this one does come with a clip so that it can be clipped to a pocket or bag to reduce the chance of it being dropped.
As far as the tech specs, it comes with 32GB of memory and is expandable up to 128GB using a memory card. It comes with Bluetooth for use with bluetooth headphones or external speakers. Copying music to the player is done via a drag and drop interface.
Overall battery life is 10 hours with a 2 hour charge time.
This 16GB lossless sound digital audio player from AGPTEK is ideal for discerning senior citizens who want a durable MP3 player at an affordable price point. The player can be worn in an armband while doing sports, or attached to clothing with a robust clip.
The overall size of the player is small. This is a good thing for seniors who are active and want a smaller player. But, it can be hard to hold onto if there is any arthritis or hand weakness.
The buttons are raised with nice tactile feedback when pressed. The arrows and writing is bold and easy to see too. The play button is raised above the other buttons which makes it easy to find. The screen is about 2″ high and is clear and easy to see too. There are multiple color choices but the blue color is the easiest to see.
It comes with 16GB built-in storage (enough for 2000 songs) and a memory card slot which can accept up to 128GB memory cards. The player can be used with wired and the clear, intuitive buttons on the front make it ideal for elderly users who do not want to have to navigate complex menus to control their audio experience.
With up to 70 hours of playback time on a single charge and a charging time of just 1.5 hours, this really is a ‘grab and go’ player. Just load up your favorite music and enjoy.
The player can support MP3, FLAX and other common audio formats, however, it does not support AAC (iTunes) or Audible files directly.
Those who are tech-savvy can work around this, however it could be a point of confusion for those who are not experienced with the different types of DRM and different audio library managers that are on the market today.
Avantree Soundbyte 860s Portable Radio and MP3 Player
Here is a different take for those looking for a senior-friendly MP3 player. This easy to use portable radio and Bluetooth speaker can also work as an MP3 player through its SD card slot on the bottom.
The Soundbyte is a pocket-sized, multi-purpose radio that can also serve as a TV speaker, a Bluetooth speaker, and an MP3 player. The player interface is pretty basic, easy to see, and easy to understand. No need to purchase batteries either because it uses a rechargeable battery that is also replaceable if needed.
The reason I suggest this is that this one device can also be used as a portable FM radio, it can play audio from any Bluetooth device like a cell phone or tablet, and it can even work as a TV speaker for seniors with Bluetooth-enabled televisions. It’s a great choice for older audiophiles who enjoy music from a variety of sources and devices plus also like to good old fashioned radios too.
The maker of the Soundbyte, Avantree, sent me a free device to use and try for myself. I can tell you I was surprised by the audio quality and volume that this device put out. Now, let’s be real though – the bass didn’t rumble and I didn’t feel like I was in a cinema. But the two speakers in this handy little gadget got very loud with minimal distortion.
To use it as a music player, you would need to load the senior’s favorite songs (in MP3 format) onto an SD card. The best way to do this is to use an SD card reader with a computer and transfer the music to an SD card that way. The mode button is used to put the radio into SD card mode and the buttons with arrows on the front are use to cycle through songs.
Here’s a video that shows you one of several ways to do this:
No, this isn’t the ideal set-up for every older adult. Seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s are going to need a simpler set-up. But, for the more techy senior, this could be a viable choice – especially if consolidating devices sounds like a good idea.
While this product is marketed more towards the younger folk, it has several features that are helpful for seniors and older adults.
The first senior-friendly feature is the large, bright and colorful 2.4 inch screen. This screen size is much easier to see than some of the other models especially since it is LCD and brightly lit too.
Another important feature is that the overall MP3 player is larger than average too and has bit more “heft” to it. It is nearly 2 inches wide by 4 inches high and about a 1/3 of an inch thick. It weight about 7.8 ounces. I know, that’s not that big, but it’s larger than average when it comes to music players.
This MP3 player has internal storage of 32 GB which should be enough to hold the music library of even the most tune savvy senior. But, if you run out of storage it can be extended to 64 GB with an SD card. I also love that this one doubles as both an FM radio and a voice recorder, so it’s ideal for senior citizens who want to record their shopping lists or ‘to-do’ lists on the go.
Finally, the buttons, which aren’t actually buttons, are backlit for easy viewing. It would be better if they used the words of the functions instead of the arrows but they are laid out in a logical order for seniors to learn them I think.
Another good thing about them is that they are highly touch sensitive so users don’t have to “press” them to get them to activate. just a light touch will do. This could mean less pain for people with arthritic hands.
This no-frills digital audio player is aimed at runners and other athletes, but it is a great choice for seniors too. It is easy to use with a clear screen and simple controls on the face of the device. It has a clip that you can use to attach it to your belt, which means that it won’t fall out of your pocket when you’re on the go.
The buttons are well-contrasted and easy to see. But, they use symbols instead of words. So, the user must be familiar with the arrow meanings to use it properly. Actual words like “play” or “stop” is a better choice for users with dementia or those not tech-friendly.
The player has built-in FM radio, and supports Bluetooth headphones too. If there’s any downside, it’s that it has only 16GB of storage space. That’s enough for 4,000 songs at 128kbps, however many people down use FLAC files or much higher bitrate MP3s.
The player has a 20-hour battery life, making it ideal for long journeys. It is compatible with most modern computers, including Windows PCs, Linux and Mac OS. Managing your audio library is easy, and making playlists is easy too.
One of the best things about this device is that it is water resistant, and quite rugged. This means that it’s a nice choice for an older person who likes gardening or other outdoor pursuits, since it will be able to handle ‘light abuse’, such as being dropped, or getting wet during inclement weather.
Buying Guide: Important Features for Seniors
Most seniors should look out for easy to use MP3 players that have a large display screen. This allows them to read the name of the song that is currently played. Look for a large button MP3 player with buttons and controls that are easy to see and easy to understand. However, those with Alzheimer’s or dementia need an simple music player with very simple controls. And, the fewer of them the better.
Big, Easy to Read Buttons
For many seniors to use a player properly, a large button MP3 player that is easy to read is usually the best choice. What makes buttons easy to read? Two things: size of the print and color of the print. The font should be as large as possible.
But, also look at the contract. The color of the print on the buttons should stand out from the color of the button itself.
Another consideration is how the buttons are labeled. If the user has some dementia or isn’t tech-friendly, choose buttons that have actual words on them like “play” or “stop”. This group may not understand the meanings of forward and reverse arrows.
Tactile feedback is important for buttons too. What do I mean by this? Many seniors will prefer a button that they can feel a “crunch” or “click” when they press it. This lets them know they selected the function they wanted.
Touch screens and many other electronic devices today have flat buttons that give you no feedback you actually pressed the buttons. Look for an MP3 player that has this.
RELATED GUIDE: Lightweight Headphones for the Elderly
Large, Bright, and Clear Screen
Most of the screens on today’s music players are the LCD type which are nice and bright. Brighter screens are easier to read because they offer better contrast. Look for bold, basic fonts or icons too.
Screen size is important although limited by the sizeof these devices. Most of them have 2″ screens which are adequate unless there are severe vision deficits. Look for an HD screen which is going to provide more clarity on these smaller screens.
RELATED GUIDE: Best TV Headphones for Seniors & Elderly
Sometimes Thicker, Chunkier MP3 Players Are Best
Electronic devices are shrinking. They are getting more powerful and smaller too. Many people appreciate this.
But, seniors and the elderly who have arthritic or weakening hands will have trouble holding onto a thin, tiny MP3 player. But, there are still some larger options out there.
The thickness of the player is important for these folks. If the player is thicker, their hands wrap around them easier which means they are more secure and less likely to drop.
Another advantage of larger players is that the screens and buttons are often larger too!
Of course, more active seniors will prefer a smaller player they can clip onto their clothing for exercise. Consider the activity level and medical condition of the user.
Easy to Use and Understand Menus and Functions
Consider the technology experience of the user. Some devices have complicated, nested menus the user has to negotiate to get to their favorite song. Others use scroll wheels to quickly select a song. The more simple music players for elderly people allow the user to scroll through songs with buttons.
For more elderly seniors, avoid players that have too many options like videos, alarms, calendars, etc. Stick to a more basic simple MP3 player.
Why are MP3 Players a Good Idea for Seniors?
MP3 players, also known as a Digital Audio Players, are more versatile and functional than the portable CD player or the Tape Walkman. One reason for this is that most are quite easy to use.
You connect the player to your computer and then upload the songs (or your favorite audiobooks or podcasts) in MP3 format from your computer to the player. Usually, this step is done for the senior by another family member.
However, not all devices offer the same functionality. Different models offer different features depending on the brand and the cost of the player. Some only play music and nothing else. Others play MP3 songs plus FM Radio while others even play video files. The device you choose usually depends on your budget and what features are important to you.
With the right MP3 player, your loved ones can enjoy hours of great music and happy memories. You or another family member can load any of these machines with the user’s favorites.
Then, take a few minutes to show them how to play the music. They will like controlling their own music. You’ll enjoy knowing they are happy.
If you are a senior, how do you enjoy listening to your favorite music? Do you have a particular model you recommend? Tell me about your experiences with MP3 players in the comments below: