Podcasts offer something of a throwback experience. They bring us back to a time when radio reigned supreme, and you had to truly listen to the news and not just have it on in the background. Old serials provided appointment-listening entertainment.
For the unfamiliar, a podcast is a series of audio-only episodes. They cover an array of topics, from empowerment to news to interesting facts about history. Podcasts are trending right now. Experts predict people will listen to podcasts for about 44 minutes per day in 2021, about an 8.1 percent increase from last year.
Here’s why you should consider hopping on the bandwagon and tuning into our favorite podcasts for entertainment, empowerment, and soul-care.
Benefits of Listening to Podcasts
There are many reasons older adults and caregivers can benefit from finding a favorite podcast or two, including:
- They can help keep the mind sharp, especially informative programs about history or ones with meditation
- They can be relaxing
- New episodes are something to look forward to
- Listening to a podcast with a loved one can be a bonding experience
- You’ll feel more connected
- You may find it better than TV or at least less stressful than the news
Most Entertaining Podcasts for Older Adults
Listening to a podcast can help beat back boredom and the monotony of everyday life. These podcasts can keep you entertained, sharp, and on your toes.
Move over, Dateline. Criminal is a podcast for those who cannot get enough true crime stories. The San Francisco Chronicle has hailed it as the “NPR of crime podcasts. You learn something new every time,” and Time, Rolling Stone, and USA Today have featured it on “best of” lists. If you are new to podcasts, this is where you should begin as season 1 of Criminal set the stage for nearly all of the true crime podcasts that lead the charts today.
Hosted by Phoebe Judge, the stories don’t take the “if it bleeds, it leads” narrative. Some are more complex, such as a mother-daughter coroner team and a story about a Black man wrongfully shot by police in front of his parents. The episodes, which come out twice per month, are gripping, engaging, and thought-provoking which easily land it on anyone’s list of favorite podcasts. Listen in.
History buffs will love this interesting and comprehensive podcast and immediately add it to their best of list of favorite podcasts. History Unplugged episodes, which come out twice per week and run for about 45 minutes, include a call-in show, where listeners can ask historian Scott Rank, Ph.D. anything — seriously. Think, “What was it like to be a Turkish sultan with four wives and twelve concubines?” Nothing is off-limits. Listeners will also hear long-form interviews with best-selling authors on topics like war horses and presidents who delivered their best speeches after a few too many drinks. You’ll learn something new each time. Listen in.
In Our Time
This series is a podcast for lovers of interesting facts, and wannabe Trivial Pursuit champs will want to tune into each one. In Our Time is a top-rated BBC-produced series hosted by Melvyn Bragg. Each week, guests will hear from experts on a historical, philosophical, religious, cultural, or scientific topic. Recent discussions have centered on the evolution of crocodiles and Shakespeare’s sonnets. Episodes run for about 50 minutes and come out once per week. If you love history, it will be one of your favorite podcasts as well. Listen in.
Top Empowering Podcasts for Older Adults
Sometimes, podcasts can motivate us to get up and get going or view life from a different lens. These empowering podcasts fit that bill and earn their way onto our list of the best podcasts.
Better Health While Aging
As we get older, it can feel like our doctors are our new best friends. And sometimes, our health can feel like it’s out of our control. To be clear, some things, simply and unfortunately, are. But we can mitigate risks for other health issues. Knowledge is power, and Better Health While Aging provides that. Hosted by a doctor, Leslie Kernisan, MD, the podcast covers health issues that commonly affect people over the age of 60. Recent topics have included the COVID-19 vaccine and depression. Families of older adults also enjoy this podcast and it easily lands on our list of the best podcasts for older adults. Listen in.
Aging in Full Bloom
Aging in Full Bloom is an entertaining and empowering podcast that focuses on all forms of aging-related wellness, landing right up there on our list of favorite podcasts. Host Lisa Stockdale interviews experts on various topics, including self-help, caring for family members with Alzheimer’s, and ways to stay strong and social as you get older. The episodes come out about twice per month and are about 30 minutes long, making it a cinch for busier folks to listen to them in one sitting. Listen in.
Living to 100 Club
Whether hitting the century-mark is a goal of yours or not, Living to 100 Club is a motivating listen for older adults and their families. It puts a much-needed positive spin on getting older rather than doom and gloom. There’s not a constant focus on doom and gloom or aches and pains. Instead, the guests showcase ways to have a happier outlook, including discussions about the mindfulness movement, the importance of positive perspectives, and re-envisioning your future. Episodes come out about once per week and run for about 40 to 50 minutes. Listen in.
Don’t be fooled by the name — 40% of people who tune into Woman’s Hour are men. The BBC-produced podcast comes out nearly every day and amplifies female voices. The aim is to inspire, inform, and challenge listeners. Recent episodes have included discussions of breast cancer and with a marathon swimmer. Episodes run for about one hour and have found their way onto many of the best podcasts lists, our own included. Listen in.
Best Podcasts for Your Soul
We’ve been hearing a ton about self-care, but what about soul-care? These podcasts can help you relax and feel better spiritually. They are perfect for those of you who just need 30 minutes to decompress and close your eyes.
Meditating can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. It often asks you to focus on your breath, which may seem like it should come second nature but can be difficult. Guided Meditations is a weekly podcast series that takes you through a meditation. You can also scroll through old episodes to find a type of meditation that works best for you, including basic, reflections, heart, and open awareness practices. Podcasts run for about 15 to 25 minutes and are some of the best podcasts out there if you’re looking to zone out and reset. Listen in.
Sleep With Me
This podcast will put you to sleep — and that’s the goal, which is why it makes our favorite podcasts for older adults lists. People struggling with insomnia can turn their minds off by turning up the volume on Sleep With Me. Each episode runs for about 70 minutes and essentially tells you a soothing bedtime story that will help you drift off to dreamland. A recent tale told a story about an octopus who finds happiness, and producers likened another episode to being tucked in by the “soul squad.” Listen in.
Gretchen Rubin, the No. 1 bestselling author of The Happiness Project and Better Than Before, hosts this series. The twice-weekly episodes include practical advice on how to live a happier life by developing good habits. Some newer episodes have included advice on journaling and an interview with TV host Anderson Cooper on his new book Vanderbilt about his famous family. Listen in.
Concluding Thoughts on our Favorite Podcasts for Older Adults
Podcasts can be entertaining, empowering, and good for the soul. They can give older adults something to look forward to, provide a way to keep the mind sharp and give families an opportunity to gain new knowledge and bond. Podcasts often run for 30 minutes to an hour and can make life a little more exciting or help you forget your problems and get to sleep. It’s worth checking a few out — you may find yourself listening in regularly.