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Due to an increasing adoption of new communication technology by senior housing residents and their families, solutions are emerging to meet those who are already considered “tech savvy.”
The 55-plus age group is the fastest growing demographic online, according to a study from Koeppel Direct that also found more than 85% of people ages 65 and older are email users.
Whether the technology is used for a medical need, or simply to keep in touch, the solutions are becoming not just optional, but essential for those entering senior living communities, as the result of more seniors going—and staying—online.
A recent research paper published in the Journal of Information Technology set out to improve communication methods between the aging population and those around them.
“Aging in place is a sustainable strategy for aging societies all over the world, although there are still various issues to be resolved,” the authors wrote. “One of those issues, the isolation of the elderly, is expected to be tackled by technology.”
The research identified three strategies: providing a trigger for communication, support for establishing communication and requiring less effort while communicating; that interacted with an e-home concept to allow an aging person to connect with his or her family via online terminals.
Technology is developing with the same benefits in mind, taking into consideration residents already know how to use many of the tools.
Caremerge is one such technology that has developed to raise accountability among medical and care providers by streamlining the process of delivering medical records and updates among those who need them, thus improving the ease of communicating.
“Baby boomers are already plugged in,” says Caremerge founder and CEO Asif Khan, based in Chicago. “We’re seeing that trend and requirement. They want to have control, just like they can watch movies, deposit a check, balance accounts…the most important piece is their health. We’re centralizing it for them, so they can own it.”
The subscription-based platform runs across various, web-enabled devices, like mainstream apps such as Facebook, Khan says, requiring next to no training. Boomers are already adopting other technologies with health care being the next important step, he says.
“The patient should always be in the middle,” Khan says. “Whatever is going on throughout the person’s life, all of the different people interacting with that patient should see what each other is doing.”
Other technologies have emerged to consider baby boomers are increasingly moving into senior living communities with stronger demands than ever for readily-accessible tech solutions. Often they are providing their own equipment or hardware and expect their communities to be wired accordingly.
“We always assumed an interactive intelligent senior,” says Sarah Hoit, CEO of Boston-based ConnectedLiving, which approaches connectivity as a three-pronged platform including training, content and people. And the people are largely comfortable with tablets, computers and online solutions before they even arrive on site.
“Boomers aren’t going to come anywhere there isn’t technology structure,” Hoit says. “Without that infrastructure, nobody’s going to come.”
ConnectedLiving works via tablet or computer, from on-site, Apple-style Internet labs to hand-held devices that travel with the user. It works to connect residents with one another, with their families and friends, and with the care providers.
“The world is going all-tablet,” Hoit says. “I would put one in every room. Residents are coming with them or their kids have provided them. It’s where the world is going.”
Written by Elizabeth Ecker