As a new generation of older Americans adopt technology on their own terms and at their own pace, senior living communities are challenged with not just accommodating, but also anticipating their preferences and expectations.
Many seniors in the “transitional generation”—a hybrid of the silent generation and early boomers—still lead active lifestyles, continue to work past the age of 65, and believe technology has “greatly changed” the way they spend most of their time, according to Varsity, a mature market strategic marketing communications agency that has spent time living among residents of a Boulder, Colo. continuing care retirement community.
This can make it challenging for the senior living industry to accommodate them in terms of programs and technology needs, abilities, and preferences, a recent Varsity study finds.
“Technology has changed our lives, but many innovations still haven’t taken hold in the mature market,” said John Bassounas, Varsity director of client services. “That must change, either by choice or by pressure.”
There’s an ongoing—and major—shift in attitudes toward technology within transitional generation, the study found, and a majority of those aged 65-74 reported enjoying learning about computer technology and the Internet, compared to those aged 75 and older. Both age groups are open to the idea of becoming even more tech savvy, according to Varsity.
That openness sometimes runs into obstacles: many retirement communities and even active adult communities still operate within a dated infrastructure, the study found.
“A widespread issue is their limited WiFi, with access points confined to common areas or certain living units, or in some cases, none at all,” the paper says.
This could not only limit residents’ and visiting family members’ usage of personal devices requiring wireless connections, but it could also impact the effectiveness of available healthcare and aging in place technology, Varsity notes, such as remote monitoring sensors.
The 65+ population is poised to expand to about 55 million in the next decade and will soon control almost 70% of the country’s disposable income, with major implications for senior living companies. Varsity’s advice includes knowing the senior living consumer; keeping technology practical, reliable, and simple; and making sure it’s within residents’ price range.
“This group often perceives technology as overwhelming and fast-changing. Certain physical limitations, for example, can exacerbate the complexities of various devices, and many find products have too many impractical features or confusing manuals,” says the white paper. “Above all, they believe innovation will be crucial if companies are to keep pace with the growing number of aging consumers.”
Access Varsity’s white paper here.
Written by Alyssa Gerace