Today’s Older Adults Understand Technology – Tomorrow’s Will Demand It
By 2030, people over 60 will be the largest consumer market segment. These tech-savvy Boomers know how to use technology and will want it in their communities.
To meet this expectation, senior living leaders must start to future-proof their communities with technology that boosts the autonomy, health, and wellness of their residents.
Here are three ways community leaders can prepare for the near future while improving the lives of their residents today.
1. Foster Social Wellness with Virtual Programming
Wellness programming is an integral feature of many senior living communities. But as the pandemic highlighted the negative effects of social isolation, a need to evolve wellness programming emerged.
Prior to COVID, wellness programs frequently required in-person attendance, alienating room-bound or chronically ill residents. When quarantines prevented in-person gatherings altogether, residents lost valuable social connections with other members of their community.
Now, many communities recognize the value of adopting wellness programming that residents can access both virtually and in person (think: an in-person yoga class that residents can also stream from their rooms). This model helps ensure that programming stays accessible to all residents, regardless of the current case count or resident readiness to participate in person.
And, of course, fostering resident wellness can help prevent increases in acuity and therefore lower the cost of care.
In addition to hybrid in-person / streaming events, be sure to offer an always-on virtual meeting place where residents can interact – after all, half of those 65 and older use Facebook today. Meet residents’ need for online social interaction by offering community engagement platforms that connect them with other community members.
2. Ease the Labor Shortage and Improve Community Health with Robot Assistance
As the staffing shortage persists, communities will need ways to do more with less – that is, they’ll need ways to empower their human employees to get more done without asking them to put in more hours on the job.
Digitization and automation are obvious solutions.
Most communities have realized significant labor savings by implementing EHR and eMAR platforms; with vacant positions harder and harder to fill, it’s time to see what other areas might benefit from a digital overhaul.
The good news: there’s no shortage of options. Robot technology on the market today can serve meals, sweep floors, dispense and drop off medication, and even provide companionship. The potential time and labor savings are significant, given that more than 80 percent of older adults have at least one chronic health condition.
Many of these technologies are still relatively rare in senior living communities. But as adoption grows, potential residents will come to expect them – especially as they recognize how a robot-enabled workforce can translate to fewer and less dramatic rate increases over time.
3. Support Resident Independence with Smart Aging Technology
Older adults value their autonomy. It’s a key reason why so many choose to age in place and contributes to the popularity of active adult communities. These older adults want limited staff intervention and an opportunity to cultivate their own community.
- Check information (weather, calendar, reminders).
- Adjust unit features (temperature, blinds, lights).
- Schedule maintenance requests.
- Call for assistance.
Incorporating this technology doesn’t require a community-wide overhaul, either. If you’re looking for a place to start, implement a pilot program. Survey residents and their loved ones to gauge interest. Once they finish the pilot, interview these same residents to understand the impact of smart aging technology.
Advanced Senior Living Technology Is the New Baseline
The belief that older adults can’t use, or don’t want to use, technology is rooted in ageism. In fact, 80 percent of older adults today rely on technology like smartphones and video chat to stay connected with family and friends. Over time, that number will only grow.
The next generation of older adults doesn’t just want access to community platforms and virtual programming, they expect it. Meet this demand by upgrading your digital tools for residents and your staff.
If you want help identifying the right solutions for your community,