Holiday CEO: Senior Living Shouldn’t Rush Into Tech Adoption

Although the senior housing industry has characteristically been behind the times when it comes to technology adoption, providers shouldn’t necessarily rush to catch up.

In fact, now that tech is catching on, providers should beware of going overboard.

Technology startups targeting seniors are popping up all over the place, but providers should not feel the need to implement all of their offerings, Lilly Donohue, CEO of Lake Oswego, Oregon-based senior housing provider Holiday Retirement, said during a session at the What’s Next Boomer Business Summit in Chicago on Thursday.

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“When taking care of older Americans, there’s still a question about how much is too much,” she explained. “We’re not thinking about if we are just doing tech for tech’s sake. We need to ask ourselves what it will actually be used for.”

There’s a fine line, because too much tech can take away the seniors’  independence and be detrimental to their health, Donohue added.

The over-use of technology can also make seniors feel less useful and more alone in extreme cases, because they may not have face-to-face communications with a person for days on end.

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“If you are going to add tech, it is important to balance the tech piece to fit what’s right for the individual senior,” Donohue said. “When building a tech business in this industry, older Americans need to be at the core.”

Cost can also be a huge issue, David Inns, CEO of connected health technology company GreatCall, said at the Boomer Summit.

“It makes me crazy when I see how many startups in the senior space are going out of business because their technology is over-engineered and expensive,” Inns said. “Whenever we go and develop products, we try to minimize the cost of products in terms of scaling down functionality and narrow it to what seniors actually will use.”

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There is no doubt that there is a need and want for tech among the baby boomer generation, but being able to balance that with real human interaction will be key, Donohue said.

“We need to stop thinking we can solve everything with apps and start thinking about other tech solutions that can actually help seniors,” Inns added.

Written by Alana Stramowski

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