While they have been around for several years, podcasts have recently become an overwhelmingly popular form of entertainment and information. According to The Podcast Consumer 2018 from Edison Research, 34% of 18- to 34-year-olds, and 36% of 35- to 54-year-olds are monthly listeners. Seniors 55-plus make up 19% of current listeners. A podcast is an online show, structured similarly to radio shows seniors might have grown up enjoying. Like radio, they are entirely audio – no video. They are available on the internet to download for free onto a smartphone or a computer using your web browser. They vary in length, with most running between 30 minutes and one hour. Podcasts cover a wide variety of topics; there is a show dedicated to almost any interest and demographic. Below are a few we recommend for seniors.
Each week, Stephen J. Dubner, co-author of the Freakonomics books, speaks with Nobel laureates, entrepreneurs, intellectuals, and others about socioeconomic issues for a general audience. With over 8 million downloads per month, it is one of the most popular podcasts on Apple Podcast. Topics range from tipping customs to Chinese folklore, to exercise, and in-home DNA testing kits. This podcast, like many others, doesn’t have a chronological order, so feel free to skip around, or pick a topic that interests you and enjoy.
This American Life is a weekly public radio show hosted by Ira Glass. Heard by 2.2 million people, with another 2.5 million people downloading it weekly. The show primarily focuses on journalistic nonfiction and essays, with each episode following a theme. Through interviews and first-person narratives, the diverse topics cover a broad span of moods and tone. The wide variety of these stories will entertain seniors, and inspire them to share them with others, as many reviewers of the podcast have done. In addition to sharing stories, the show also covers current events and how those events affect real people.
Criminal is a podcast about true crime and the people behind the cases. Every story is real. The interviewees are directly involved with the crime in some way or another. Stories of people on both sides of the law. Stories of people caught in the middle and the ones who solve the cases. What’s it like to make counterfeit money? Have you ever had your identity stolen? Who cleans up crime scenes? Each episode is a standalone story, so feel free to skip around and listen to the titles that catch your eye.
Produced by the team at HowStuffWorks, this podcast is ideal for seniors with a keen interest in history. Skipping over well-known events of the past, Stuff You Learned in History class takes a deep dive into the stories left out of the history books. Highlighting social and cultural happenings and highlighting forgotten historical figures around the world, the podcast provides insight into moments of history long forgotten. Because the podcast covers so many historical topics, you can listen by theme or period of time.
Food Network’s Alton Brown chats with a wide array of food industry professionals. Featuring chefs and bartenders, authors, scientists, and everyone in-between, Alton Brown talks about food and how we eat throughout the podcast. It’s perfect for the senior interested in cooking and dining.
Hosted by practicing geriatrics specialist, Leslie Kernisan, MD MPH, this is a podcast for older adults and family caregivers alike. Dr. Kernisan and her guests discuss common health problems that affect seniors, and what works for improving health and wellness while aging. She and her guests also address common concerns and dilemmas that come with caring for aging parents. Medication safety, memory and cognitive health, and managing cardiovascular risks are just a few of the topics covered in this highly informational podcast.
You Must Remember This is a critically acclaimed podcast exploring the forgotten histories of Hollywood’s first century. Proclaimed as the best podcast of 2018 by Entertainment Weekly, the show is written and narrated by former film critic Karina Longworth; it is the ideal show for any senior interested in the golden age of cinema. A heavily-researched work of creative nonfiction, Karina sorts out what happened behind the scenes of the films, stars, and scandals of the 20th century.
If any of these shows appeal to you or someone you might know, or you want to go searching on your own, there are several options for accessing podcasts. If you have a smartphone, there are apps to help you listen and keep you updated on shows you enjoy. If you have an iPhone, there is a podcast app pre-installed. You can also download other apps for listening, like Stitcher. The Google Play Music and Spotify apps are great options for those who want to transition between music and shows.
One last great feature of podcasts is that they can be stopped and started and returned to at a later time. This feature makes them ideal for seniors who enjoy a busy lifestyle or want to enjoy their favorite shows with family and friends.