In this article we cover:
- The Importance of Technology in Assisted Personalized Patient Experiences
- 10 Senior Living Technologies
- Technology to Improve the Assisted Living Workplace
- Technology to Improve Resident Health and Safety
- Technology to Increase Resident Engagement
While recently visiting with an older couple I know, I was surprised when the husband, not a day younger than 75, pulled out a smartphone and asked Siri to look something up for him. After Siri answered in her soothing tones and he pocketed his phone, I asked him how long he’d had it.
“Oh, a few years now. I use it mostly for Facebook to see how my grandkids are doing.”
“I like the word puzzle apps,” said his wife, holding up her own shiny black iPhone X. “And that bird game.”
They are not the only older couple to catch on to modern technology. In fact, an article by Pew Research Center shows that 67% of adults over 65 have internet in their homes, and four in ten own smartphones. And as these tech-savvy seniors age and begin to move into assisted living homes, technology will be an increasingly important aspect of assisted living. This article covers ten technologies that are likely to be a big part of assisted living in the coming years, as well as a few that can be used right now.
As more and more seniors are tech savvy and accustomed to accessing the internet, building-wide wifi is essential for a senior living home. More importantly, available internet access opens up the possibilities of many other technologies, such as resident health monitoring, entertainment, or video chats.
Video Chats (Free with Skype and internet access).
There are so many possibilities that video chats open up for senior living. First, Skype enables residents to remain involved in the lives of their children and grandchildren. Even though my Grandmother lives in an assisted living home in another state, she was able to virtually attend our Christmas party this year via Skype (with the help of a nurse who made the call and helped my not-so-techy Grandmother use it). Skype can also be used by doctors to remotely assist patients without the need for as many visits.
Physical Rehabilitation and Fitness
Technology offers a plethora of tools for senior fitness. For example, YouTube channel ElderGym Senior Fitness provides workouts that can be used for group workout sessions. You can also use Wearables, mentioned below, to track a resident’s activity and physical health.
Motion sensors are increasingly used in senior living homes for a reason. These nonintrusive systems can be used to monitor a resident’s physical activity and improve safety. For instance, a motion sensor on a bed can alert assisted living staff if a resident falls out of bed in the middle of the night. Or if a sensor shows that a resident has been stationary for a long time, a nurse might be alerted to check in.
Digital Medication Dispensers
For residents who are on medication, digital dispensers can release the correct amount at the right time to prevent overdosing or under-dosing. They can also produce voice alerts after dispensing medication to remind residents to take it.
Digital Content Designed for Seniors
There are lots of great digital tools available to keep residents engaged and entertained. For example, podcasts can provide entertainment for those with fading vision. Netflix offers a wide selection of movies and TV. For the less techy senior who still wants to be connected with family, Tapestry is a free, more user-friendly version of Facebook and Instagram that is specifically designed for seniors. Puzzle apps such as Wordbrain (free) can keep residents’ brains active and engaged. And for the resident who just likes to read, EyeReader by NetSoft is an app that uses a phone’s camera to turn your phone into a magnifying glass.
These are bracelets with radio-frequency chips installed that track a resident’s health, heart rate, sleep patterns, and physical activity. Wearables can also sync with staff devices so that a staff-person can evaluate a patient’s activity and health at a glance or receive alerts if there is a problem.
Applications for Staff & Volunteers
Additionally, technology can help make life easier for staff and volunteers in assisted living homes. There are lots of helpful mobile apps available for caregivers to use. Here’s a list of the 12 best ones that help monitor resident health or answer questions about senior care.
Information Security Technology
With the introduction of technology into the senior living environment comes concerns about information privacy. Increased data protection technology can be used to combat this. Security systems like data firewalls, endpoint solution systems, and email spam filters can help protect residents safety.
Smart Home Technology
Though smart home technology is still a relatively new thing even for millennials and young baby boomers, trends show that it is an up-and-coming tool in senior living. Voice-activated smart technology like Amazon’s “Hey Alexa” can give senior residents a much-needed sense of control. From switching the lights off with just a few words or being able to change the television volume or channel just by speaking, a resident can maintain independence just by using his or her voice.
As technology use increases even among senior citizens and as tech-savvy baby boomers will start to enter senior living homes in the next decade, technology can be a powerful tool to improve quality of life, safety, and independence. Comment below with your ideas to use technology to benefit assisted living!
BIO: Linnaea Elzinga is part of Social Eyes Marketing, a digital marketing agency dedicated to serving small businesses. Those include senior living homes, and Social Eyes caters to marketing for assisted living homes as well as finding new ways to use technology.
Increasing Technology Use Among Seniors: https://www.pewinternet.org/2017/05/17/technology-use-among-seniors/
Technology Trends in Senior Living: https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/440119/Top-Tech-Trends-WP-r8.pdf?t=1518196866636&_hsenc=p2ANqtz–JRL6T4RIl3yZbgWRQc0Df3j6u_mco-1A7jetKeN8G2h6t9BDmTJIzUh5JA_BrayUN-spUIbp8019oqqko1Ih2dXXWeA&_hsmi=59812170
Smart Home Tech in Senior Living: https://www.mcknightsseniorliving.com/home/columns/marketplace-columns/how-smart-home-technologies-can-help-with-senior-living/
12 Best Apps for Senior Caregivers: https://mashable.com/2016/09/25/apps-for-caregiving-caregivers/#tic1dYwlMsqr