In a world where technology is enmeshed in nearly every aspect of living, it may surprise some that seniors are keeping pace. Despite rumors to the contrary, seniors are embracing today’s tech and spending more time online than ever before. The Pew Research Center reports that in 2017 42% of adults aged 65 and older owned smartphones, up from just 18% in 2013. And they aren’t just using them for voice communication either. In fact, older adults are using smartphones to go online in greater numbers than ever. Pew’s research reveals approximately 60% of seniors are online daily, and a separate report suggests more than half of them are going online to use social media.
Meanwhile, the population continues to age. Americans over the age of 65 now account for 15% of the population and they will account for nearly one in four U.S. adults by 2060. Increasingly, more of them are living in some sort of senior living community — including independent-living, assisted-living and nursing-home facilities. In fact, estimates claim nearly one million seniors are already in some type of senior living community, and that number is expected to double by the year 2030.
So as the demand for senior living communities increases in the coming decades, those providers must invest in and embrace technology to meet the needs of seniors’ digitally connected lives.
Technology for Today’s Seniors
The Centers for Disease Control reports that adults who socialize, exercise, embrace wellness and engage with their friends, families and loved ones are happier and healthier. Technology is the perfect enabler for many of those aspirations. Below are just a few ways senior living communities can help older Americans stay connected with other people as well as the world around them.
1. Voice Services
Whether it’s through a hard-wired landline or a wireless service, the most basic need is the ability for residents to make and receive calls from loved ones and caregivers. With so many smartphone-owning seniors, they’re leveraging apps like Skype and Facetime to see the faces of loved ones as well.
2. Video Services
Nothing beats a face-to-face interaction, but a video call can be a close second. Providing video conferencing solutions allows residents to put their eyes on those nearest and dearest to them, which can be especially important for faraway family. Video conferencing is also a great way for seniors to interact with healthcare providers, especially when their mobility is limited.
As mentioned above, seniors are going online in increasing numbers and they’re taking advantage in myriad ways. To stay connected, older Americans are:
- Surfing social media to keep tabs on friends and family, which helps keep feelings of isolation and loneliness at bay. Social media also serves as an avenue for reconnecting with long-lost friends or relatives.
- Engaging in online communities to connect with those who have similar interests or participate in forums for specific health conditions.
- Playing games. Studies have revealed 23% of adults over age 65 play games online with 36% of that group playing almost every day. And they play in good health. Older adults who play video games can lower stress and depression and improve balance and vision. Plus, multiplayer online games allow seniors to interact with others.
- Sending emails. Even though this generation grew up with good old-fashioned written communication, email offers another way for seniors to stay in touch with family who may be several time zones away or with demanding lives that leave them strapped for time.
Laying the Groundwork for Connection
There are so many ways technology can be leveraged to enrich senior residents’ lives, and the right communications infrastructure is key. From technical considerations (like bandwidth and hardware and software requirements) to end-user experience (including access, reliability and quality) to operational concerns (such as cost, compliance and industry standards), choosing the right communication tools can be challenging. When you add the needs of your staff to the mix — like conferencing and training tools, EHR connectivity, emergency call solutions, video surveillance and more — finding the right suite of solutions is crucial. Select Communications is here to help. We’ll bring our people-focused expertise to help you make the smartest communication decisions and investments for your people.
To learn more about our people-first approach to cloud, communication and conferencing technology, check out this press release highlighting the unique features of our company.