Connecting Residents through Digital Technology

Tree and a Half

Computer technologies and the Internet are commonplace everywhere. Touch screen gadgets and WiFi connections are popping up all over the place, including retirement lifestyle communities across North America.

Some retirement residences use technology based systems to keep residents informed about what’s going on in their community; from recreation and event calendars, to daily menus and special announcements, even a snapshot of the weekly weather report. For these lucky residents, the most up-to-date information is always at their fingertips, available online anytime. No need to wait for the latest copy of a printed monthly calendar anymore! Like paperless billing, this type of regular communication is going digital, along with today’s seniors :)

Currently, hardware designers and software developers are building accessible technologies for an aging population. Doro, as an example, designs devices for older adults in particular, including a simple, full function cell phone and a new laptop, EasyPC, being released later this fall.

Connecting Residents through Digital Technology

Technology based systems meant for use in retirement residences, for instance the Brookdale Connected Living program, are specifically geared towards the needs and interests of older adults too, as they are the intended users, not staff or visiting family members. Although some guidance using the system is required to get started, anyone can learn the basics in no time.

The software interface is stripped down to be simple and easy to navigate. This helps accommodate the large percentage of inexperienced technology users residing in retirement communities. Things like sending/receiving email, conducting research online, viewing shared photographs, listening to music, and video conferencing are presented to users with easy to follow instructions and no distractions, keeping the process simple and not intimidating for a novice.

James Bond and After-Dinner Tiramisu

A new and interesting feature of this type of technology based system is how family members around the world can also access the community based calendars and information being shared with residents. This keeps the children and grandchildren of today’s seniors “in-the-loop” about what’s happening each day or throughout the week. It creates opportunities for conversation… “I noticed James Bond was playing in your theater last night. Did you go with your neighbor?” or “How did you like the Tiramisu after dinner tonight?”

Families often feel closer and more connected when they are in tune with the smaller details of day-to-day life. By sharing this sort of insight into daily life online, family members can help those in long distance relationships feel more comfortable with their living arrangements and feel more involved with their family.

Whether it’s checking the menu for lunchtime tomorrow, reviewing the agenda for next week’s shopping trip, or keeping families informed about their loved ones, technology’s role in retirement living has only just started to shape the terrain. There will certainly be more to come, and soon!