According to a study by the National Institute of Health (NIH), listening to audiobooks showed significant improvements in the mental health of older adults. The study showed benefits on mental health dimensions of aggression, depression, anxiety and more with a major impact on “depression”.
According to the latest surveys, 45% of US adults have listened to audiobooks in 2022. The latest trends show the global audiobook market size is anticipated to reach USD 35 Billion by 2030.
The audiobook format allows senior citizens to listen to the books, who find it hard to hold a traditional paperback due to weak hands or other disabilities. Seniors with visual impairments can also enjoy their favorite books in audio format. Many websites offer free audio books for elderly, let us have a look at the best options to get some free audio books for seniors.
12 Websites to Get Free Audiobooks for the Elderly
Here are the top 12 websites to get free audio books for seniors on a variety of topics.
1. Free Classic Audiobooks
As the name suggests, this website has classic and fiction audiobooks. The website is ideal for seniors, as it has a simple design and easy-to-use interface. You can download audiobooks in Mp3 and M4B formats (ideal for iOS devices). The key features of this site are:
- Easy-to-use website for non-tech-savvy older adults
- You can download audiobooks in multiple formats
- You can download the whole book or individual chapters
The site provides access to hundreds of classic audiobooks for seniors in the public domain including Treasure Island, Alice in Wonderland, Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, Emma by Jane Austen and many more.
2. Digital Book
You should visit this site if you are looking for a specific audiobook. Digital Book, formerly known as Librophile, operates as a search engine for free audiobooks in the public domain. The site has a catalog of more than 100,000 free audiobooks and eBooks. You can browse the “Trending” or “Popular” section or look through the list of genres, authors or languages to find your favorite book in audio format. Other features include:
- One site to access Free eBooks, audiobooks and podcasts
- Ideal site to find a specific audiobook from various sites
- Supports 12 languages
- Concentration on classic novels
Digital Books include lots of well-known titles. It is my favorite site to find free audio books for elderly because of its sleek design and easy search engine to locate specific books.
3. Open Culture
This site has compiled a list of free audiobooks from different websites. The list has 1000 fiction, nonfiction and poetry audiobooks listed in alphabetical order for easy access. You will find a lot of classic and poetry audio books for elderly.
You do not have options to search through the list or the ability to sort or filter the audiobooks. Open Culture’s 1000 free audiobooks list has many great books but you have to go through the list to find what you are looking for.
4: Over Drive
If you have a library card from your local library, this website is a one-stop access to over 300,000 free audiobooks. One Drive partners with local libraries around the United States (and some libraries from abroad) to provide you with all the bestsellers, chart-topping and newest books. Check Over Drive’s library finder to find out if your local library has a subscription to Over Drive.
This is one of the easiest ways to get free audio books for elderly. Once signed in, put in your library card number and you will have access to the entire audiobook catalog. You can use Over Drive services through their app, Libby. OverDrive is an excellent source of old classics and contemporary releases. Over Drive provides:
- 100% free access to tens of thousands of Audiobooks, eBooks and magazines without any subscription or hidden charges
- One of the largest collections of free audiobooks. Classics, best sellers and popular titles.
- Listen on the computer, smartphone app, Kindle Fire and more
- Works with tens of thousands of libraries
You only need your local library card to access the largest collection of free audio books for the elderly.
5: Hoople Digital
Hoopla Digital works the same as OverDrive, seniors need a library card to unlock free audiobooks, eBooks, movies and music, TV shows and comics that they can stream or watch on a computer, smartphone, tablet, TV or Amazon Kindle.
Hoopla has thousands of free audio books for seniors, you can filter the results by user ratings, release date, date added and language. Access the “Popular Audiobooks” or “New & Trending Audiobooks” sections to get started.
6: Libri Vox
Libri Vox has a huge selection of free audiobooks, recorded by volunteers from around the world. The volunteers give their time and voice to record classic books that are in public domain.
Libri Vox was a pioneer in recording public domain books and making them accessible to the general public with 10,000 projects recorded so far. You can find a specific audiobook by searching by title, author, genre or language and find the book’s description page. You can either listen to chapters individually without downloading or download the whole book (in a ZIP file). Some audiobooks are available in M4B formats for iOS users.
Libri Vox also has a YouTube channel where they upload audiobooks. You can also use their Android and iOS apps to access these audio books for seniors.
7: Loyal Books
Loyal Books (previously known as Books Should Be Free) has more than 7000 public domain titles. If you are looking for free audio books for elderly, you will certainly find great options from their History, Literature, Philosophy, Poetry, Religion, Short Stories, Historical Fiction and many other genres.
Do not miss the Loyal Books Top 100 section. Seniors have options to listen to these audiobooks on the website, download MP3s (individual chapters or whole book) or in M4B format (for iPhones and iPads). Loyal Books also has many free eBooks and books in other languages.
8: Project Gutenberg
Project Gutenberg is the oldest digital library, run by volunteers. Seniors can find classic audiobooks and e-books for free here. You can search book titles by author, title, subject or language to find your favorite book. Audiobooks are available in several formats.
While most of the books are narrated by humans, there are some computer-narrated books, which is a bizarre experience for me. Project Gutenberg has books in 50+ languages.
9: Thought Audio
Thought Audio is a very simple site that offers classic literature and philosophy audio books from authors like F.Scott Fitzgerald, Mark Twain and Virginia Wolfe. Each audiobook page has a short summary with information about author.
The audio books are in form of YouTube videos with a PDF transcript that you can download. It has fewer titles as compared to other websites but Thought Audio has many great titles if you are looking for free audio books for elderly.
Amazon’s Audible is a paid service that offers a massive number of audiobooks recorded by professionals. If you are looking for a specific audio book that is not available in the public domain and you cannot find anywhere else, try Audible.
Related Article: Best Audible Books for Seniors
Audible’s huge collection has best-sellers and new releases so you will most probably find any book that you are looking for.
Audible has a 30-days trial that will give you one audiobook for free (along with 2 Audible originals). You can also check out the Free Listens section that offers hundreds of free audiobooks including some great classics.
Visit Audible for seniors article for the ultimate Audible guide for older adults.
- If you have an Amazon Prime subscription, you can access hundreds of titles on Audible (even without an Audible subscription) that you cannot find anywhere else.
- If you have an Alexa device, you can listen to an Audible book on your device for free every month. Use a simple voice command like “Alexa, what’s free from Audible?”.
Check out our article on the best Audible devices for seniors and find out the best device for older adults to listen to Audible content.
11: BBC Sounds
BBC Sounds is an app from BBC and the home of its radio channels, podcasts and audiobooks. BBC is now branching out to free abridged audiobooks. If the idea of abridged audiobooks sounds good (an abridged audiobook is a shorter version of a book where you get the main ideas of a book without the small details), you can have some good free audio books for elderly from BBC Sounds.
The last site to get free audiobooks for seniors on this list is YouTube. There are many audiobook channels and lists on YouTube that have a variety of genres. You can listen to classics like Pride and Prejudice or a thriller like Stephen King’s In The Tall Grass.
YouTube also takes down many audiobook videos that violate copyright or books are not licensed for audiobook distribution. There are plenty of public domain audiobook channels on YouTube to get your favorite classic titles for free.
There you have it, a list of 12 websites to get free audiobooks for senior citizens and others. Listening to audiobooks is one of the best therapeutic activities and fun things for bored seniors to do at home.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can seniors listen to Audiobooks?
Seniors can listen to most audiobooks on their computers, smartphones and tablets. Android phones and iOS devices (iPhone and iPad) have all famous audiobook apps. A librarian from your local library can help you set up Overdrive/ Libby apps on your phone to borrow audiobooks for free with your library card.
What is the easiest way to listen to audiobooks for seniors?
If you have your local library membership, you can use an app (Libby or Overdrive) on your smartphone/tablet to borrow free audiobooks from your library. A librarian can help you with setting up the app. It is the easiest way for seniors to access free audiobooks.
Are audiobooks good for the elderly?
Audiobooks provide an excellent recreational therapeutic activity for older adults to avoid loneliness, stress, depression and social isolation. Audiobooks are ideal for blind and visually impaired seniors and the elderly with dementia. Older adults with weak hands, who find it difficult to hold a paperback, can also enjoy audiobooks.
How can visually impaired and disabled seniors get free audiobooks?
National Library Services provides a free braille and audiobook service for visually impaired and physically disabled individuals. If you are eligible (details here), signup for NLS services to get free braille or audiobooks including best sellers, magazines, biographies and more, delivered to your door for free (or instant downloads).