Many solutions are marketed as senior living engagement technology, but often their primary function is something other than life enrichment. A true senior living engagement technology solution is laser focused on empowering communities to enhance residents’ lives through meaningful activities and social connection. These purpose-built, easy-to-use solutions are ideal for senior living communities and other senior care environments that want to improve community engagement. By facilitating fellowship among seniors and by giving them access to meaningful digital content, these solutions decrease social isolation and feelings of loneliness and depression.
So, what is senior living engagement technology? It is a digital solution that gives residents access to content-driven entertainment and connectivity tools that enhance group activities and individual leisure time. A typical solution might include larger touch screen systems for group engagement as well as tablets, which can be used in small group or individual settings. The user interface is designed for older adults of all cognitive and physical abilities.
The most important feature of this solution is content. A solid system includes thousands of pre-loaded apps that help to meet residents’ spiritual, emotional, physical, social, and intellectual needs. For example, a solution that suits the diverse preferences of today’s seniors should have an extensive and regularly updated content library that enables residents to:
- Watch classic TV shows and movies
- Listen to music and participate in music therapy programs
- Exercise to interactive fitness videos that improve strength and balance
- Access virtual art museums
- Play games designed to improve brain functions such as memory, attention and language
- Pursue their individual interests
- And more
At its best, this technology supports purposeful engagement, which happens when people are involved in actions and events that match their preferences and provide them with meaning and purpose. When used throughout the assisted living community, engagement technology brings people together and drives staff efficiencies.
Why Senior Living Engagement Technology Matters
The pandemic made more people aware of the pervasive loneliness and social isolation among seniors. There is now a greater understanding of the costs associated with not actively addressing this problem. Consider these stats:
- Medicare spends an additional $134 per month ($1,608 annually) for socially isolated older adults, a cost equivalent to that of some chronic conditions.
- Older adults with depression, a condition correlated with loneliness and isolation, incur medical costs that are 50% higher than those without depression.
Senior living engagement technology can improve quality of life and wellness by helping to mitigate loneliness and social isolation. That’s why more senior living operators are recognizing its value.
When you also consider how this solution makes it easier for staff to do their jobs, the value of this technology becomes even clearer. Senior living engagement technology, for example, gives staff at memory care facilities additional tools to provide mind-stimulating activities for dementia patients. It also transforms and modernizes the role of nursing home caregivers and other staff, giving them access to technology that can help them do their jobs more effectively and find greater enjoyment and fulfillment at work. As more senior living communities adopt engagement technology, these tools will help communities attract and develop talent, and it will offer staff an opportunity to gain marketable skills.
The Growing Support for Engagement Tech
Findings from a recent iN2L study show a 60% increase in the number of leaders who believe engagement technology is extremely important now, versus before the pandemic, and a 100% increase in the number of leaders who say there is definitely a return on investment for engagement technology.
The idea of using this solution to improve seniors’ lives with person-centered digital engagement also has strong public sector support. For example, the State of Florida’s Department of Elder Affairs partnered with the Alzheimer’s Association to keep seniors connected with loved ones during social isolation. Through Project: VITAL (Virtual Inclusion Technology for All), senior-friendly iN2L tablets were distributed to nursing homes and assisted living facilities (ALFs) throughout Florida. After its proven success, the program was expanded with Project VITAL at Home to reach elders residing outside of senior care settings. Several states have adopted these models.
Senior Living Engagement Technology in Action
During the pandemic, when senior living communities were under mandatory lockdowns and visits were restricted, engagement technology came to the rescue. Not only did it provide seniors with entertaining games, travel videos, and other stimulating content, but engagement technology also enabled them to connect to family and friends.
Senior housing communities that already had engagement technology in place were better prepared to support seniors during the extended period of precaution isolation and physical distancing. For example, Seashore Gardens Living Center, a 2021 iN2L Communities That Shine Award winner, already had iN2L engagement technology systems throughout their organization. When the pandemic struck, they were prepared to provide social connections and purposeful engagement to residents. As a result, residents were able to use the system for telehealth visits, to attend religious services, and to make video calls with their loved ones.
Another 2021 Communities That Shine Award recipient, Charlie’s Place Respite & Activity Center in Louisiana, used engagement technology to keep its program running after the state shuttered adult daycare organizations. Charlie’s Place leveraged iN2L to launch virtual and mobile programming that would meet their clients’ needs and provide respite to family caregivers during safe home visits. A recent study from the Administration on Aging suggests that even 15 minutes of virtual socializing per day can mitigate the effects of loneliness on seniors. With its virtual and mobile programming, the staff at Charlie’s Place far surpassed this metric in providing meaningful socialization to seniors.
Engagement technology has gone from a nice-to-have to a must-have feature in senior living communities. This solution ultimately adds dimension to the resident experience by facilitating the social connections, learning, entertainment, and more.
With a full understanding of what senior living engagement technology is and its capabilities, you can harness this technology to transform the resident experience. For more insight, read our white paper, The Path to Purposeful Engagement: A Guide for Implementing a Community Approach to Purposeful Engagement That Residents Drive and Direct.