In Caremerge’s first Trailblazers in Senior Living installment, Asif Khan, Caremerge Founder/CEO and Andrew Smith, Brookdale’s Director of Strategy & Innovation, discuss Technology’s Impact on Generational Relationships. 

Today’s featured question is: What do you consider the number one technology that’s really impactful in our industry today?

 You can also watch the interview in its entirety. 


You can also read the transcript below. 

Asif Khan: What do you consider the number one technology that’s really impactful in our industry today? It doesn’t have to be any technology specific to senior living. It could be just anything.

Andrew Smith: I think I’d have to say video chat as the number one most impactful technology and I see that in my own life. I’ve got a one-year-old daughter, Eloise, and the ability to use Facetime to interact with her grandparents, my wife’s parents, who live in California and my parents who live two hours away. It’s just we’ve really seen that bring our family together despite that distance and in our communities Facetime is the killer app. We do technology training on iPads and time and time again we hear stories of our residents who are attending a wedding or seeing a birth or just talking to their friend who lives overseas and really the video chat and the ability to connect with somebody face to face via technology I think that’s the most impactful technology.

Asif Khan: Yeah. I like the way you said like, “killer app” because it doesn’t really require a lot of infrastructure. You don’t need to implement it or support it or go about training people. Right?

Andrew Smith: Yeah.

Asif Khan: It’s right on your phone. It’s on your iPad. You can just call and off you go. You’re in it.

Andrew Smith: You do need Wi-Fi, which not every community has…

Asif Khan: That’s a very good point.

Andrew Smith: That is the one piece of infrastructure that’s critical.

Asif Khan: Yeah. It’s interesting you said Wi-Fi just because you were talking about trailblazing. I think Wi-Fi is something that is important, although we kind of take it for granted. You go to Starbucks, there is Wi-Fi. You go to McDonald’s, there is Wi-Fi. You go to the airport, train, everywhere you go there is Wi-Fi, but in a lot of senior living communities they don’t necessarily have Wi-Fi, which is just amazing. So folks listening in, I think it will be good for them to think about a strategic plan for implementing it because it’s one of those things like you said. Killer app is on the smart phone or on your tablet, which is Facetime, but guess what? You need Wi-Fi for it.

Andrew Smith: You need Wi-Fi and you need a piece of hardware. Not everybody comes in with a piece of hardware …

Asif Khan: Right. Right so that’s good. I have a personal experience with Facetime as well. My parents volunteer doing some work in very remote areas of the world. There are 75 plus. They’re retired, but they spend a lot of time volunteering and one thing they’re really good at is they have these smartphones and they just Facetime me from anywhere in the world, no matter where they are . It’s just amazing and when you were saying it, I was like, “Yeah. That’s right.” I actually experienced it in my life with my parents as well. It has really brought us closer as a family with them because their grandkids, my kids, can talk to them on a regular basis. We can see where they’re at and what they’re doing.

On the flipside, also, just thinking out loud it is interesting, so my parents if they’re far away, they can Facetime, but when they’re in the same room using their apps and they’re using WhatsApp and messaging their friends.  It kind of divides you when you’re together, but it connects you when you’re far I think when you think about senior living it’s actually good because lots of people have their loved ones outside and somewhere else so it’s good from that perspective.

Andrew Smith: Yeah. I think not just connecting technology in general inside a community. I agree that Facetime and chatting is the best thing to connect generations, but I think at least in our communities having technology together in person has also made a big difference. I mean, the ability to look at Google Earth and go share stories about our trip to Italy and how that one resident started a restaurant there and everyone can go look at it and reminisce over that. I think there are also benefits to having a lot of technology together in a senior living community. Now, I understand you’re probably talking about your teenage kid sitting around the dinner table …looking at their apps. I mean, that’s a different issue.

Asif Khan: Right. Even with my parents, they’re like that. They act like teenagers when they have these devices because they’re like chatting with their friend somewhere else and I’m like, “Dad, I’m here. You Facetime me when you’re in some other part of world, but we are here together so let’s just have the face-to-face time.” They would rather have me. Sometimes I kid around. I was like, “Maybe I go in another room and Facetime you to pay attention.”

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