I dug into this deeper and here is what I learned.
The issue is more widespread, there are non-profits such as public schools with 100's or 1000's of devices that now been rendered incompatible because of Apple policy of not allowing downloads. The issue is because the application developers (so far I identified Evernote and Google Drive as 2 major apps affected) have stopped supporting 32bit systems (that's understandable, so I am not blaming Evernote anymore) and only 64bit versions of the apps are being continued to be developed. Apple strict store policy does not allow a user to download an older version of the application (32-bit version in this case) IF the user hasn't downloaded the particular application in the past. In other worlds if user has downloaded in the past, app store will enable re-downloading it again (albeit an older compatible 32bit version of the app). The policy is briliant as it turns the devices to junk overnight and because Apple has lock on the hardware even after it discontinues support, it would force the organizations (that assign the devices to new/sharing users frequently) to upgrade.
Jailbreaking is I guess illegal and turns out is not a panacea to solve it. There are no readily available Google Drive or Evernote Note apps on Cydia store (why would they be there) except for a few attempts on old tweaked versions from less than trust-worthy places promising "unlimited access". Would stay away from those. Sideloading the apps may solve the problem if you trust having some Chinese signing certificate on the device and keep sideloading the app year after year to refresh the cerificate. May work for some but that still requires a working version of IPA file. (From here: Maybe from a backup?, Couldn't find good sources online)
Another solution perhaps* is ask your friends to login temporarily to iTunes and download the old versions of the apps and then they can log out of their account. The apps stay installed but you can't update them since not logged into the appropriate Apple account (but who cares since the apps are not being updated anyway, see above). That's I guess most reasonable way to resolve it other than purchasing a new device.
* Disclaimer - while you should be OK with iCloud and iTunes backup, you will get errors from iTunes if you try to sync the device. The errors may indicate the apps can't be synced because the account is not logged iTunes. If you get the error message, the solution may be to remove iTunes and data and set it up again.