5 Creative Ways to Use Tech to Fight Social Isolation in Senior Living
The news that the COVID-19 vaccine is on its way to older adults warrants a major sigh of relief. But the pandemic hasn’t been the only threat to seniors’ well-being this year.
Seniors face another public health crisis that can’t be solved with a vaccine: loneliness. Social isolation has taken a toll on seniors’ well-being amid lockdowns and visitor restrictions, but resident loneliness has been a concern in senior living for years.
Tech can provide an antidote. From robotic pets to virtual reality vacations, there’s no shortage of senior living technology solutions that can put a smile on residents’ faces.
If you’re not sure where to start, here are five creative ways to use technology to keep seniors feeling happy and engaged.
1: Boost Activity Participation for Hearing-Impaired Residents
It can be incredibly frustrating for residents with hearing loss to talk to friends and family, and attend community events.
Eversound’s technology helps them hear. Residents can wear Eversound wireless headphones to tune into virtual events, speak with staff members, and chat with fellow residents. The company offers its own engaging audio programming, too.
Eversound also makes socially distanced family visits possible for the hearing impaired. It’s got a visitation package that allows family members and residents to use headsets to talk to each other through physical barriers.
2: Give Residents an Unconventional Furry Companion
Spending time with animals has documented benefits for mental health: it can reduce stress levels and feelings of loneliness while boosting your mood. But it’s not always easy to care for a pet in a senior living community.
That’s why Joy For All makes robotic pets – just don’t let the robot part deter you.
The company’s lifelike Companion Pets are great for older adults who crave animal affection but might not be able to keep up with care duties and veterinary appointments. “Animatronic therapy” by way of these cats and puppies can be especially impactful for residents of memory care and assisted living communities.
3: Let Residents Experience a New Virtual Reality
Virtual reality (VR) has a lot of potential for battling social isolation in older adults. Early studies have shown that regular VR use can significantly improve quality of life among senior living residents.
Residents can use VR headsets to do anything from traveling to a bucket-list destination to touring a museum to visiting a childhood home. Rendever and MyndVR offer VR experiences that residents can participate in as a group, so that they can make new memories with friends.
4: Encourage Intergenerational Friendships
Making friends with fellow residents and staff is a key part of social wellbeing, but many residents often wish they could connect with new people outside the community.
Papa is a company that pairs seniors and their families with “Papa Pals” for assistance and companionship, both virtual and in-person. Papa Pals can help seniors out with tasks like transportation and errands, but they’re also available to have fun and meaningful conversations via video visits any time.
5: Ease Day-to-Day Loneliness with Voice Technology
While certainly no replacement for one-on-one connection, voice technology can be a great comfort to senior living residents when no one else is around.
Voice assistants like Amazon Alexa aren’t just helpful for circulating important community information and answering residents’ questions. The sheer act of talking to Alexa every day can help seniors feel more connected and engaged.
Voice assistants can also get to know residents’ needs and preferences to make recommendations that can enhance their mood. Amazon has trained Alexas to respond thoughtfully to sensitive statements. If a resident says, “Alexa, I’m lonely,” the voice assistant might start playing the resident’s favorite album or offer to call a friend.
Keep Senior Loneliness at Bay with Tech Experiences
Senior living technology has had a growth spurt this year: according to one survey, 80 percent of respondents reported an increase in tech spending this year, and 87 percent said they expect their organizations to increase their technology budgets in 2021.
While the COVID-19 vaccine will likely provide the much-needed, safe return of family visits and community gatherings, technology solutions can add enriching experiences to seniors’ day to day lives.
Interested in voice technology designed for senior living?