As a group, seniors tend to embrace technology at a slightly slower pace than their younger friends and relatives. However, seniors are using technology more than ever, and younger seniors are nearly as connected as adults under age 65. In fact, almost 60 percent of seniors report going online, and more than three-quarters use a cell phone.
In senior living communities, today’s residents have high expectations when it comes to technology. Many communities have begun incorporating a variety of technology offerings into programming and daily life. New communities are designed and built with technology in mind, and older communities are feeling the pressure to upgrade as they compete to attract new residents.
Here are a few of the high-tech amenities and services that prospective residents may expect to see in your community.
Connecting Anytime, Anywhere
Today’s seniors — along with people of every other age group — have become increasingly reliant on always-on connectivity to the internet. For banking, learning, communicating, playing and staying up to date on the latest news, a fast and reliable connection is a must. With many people on limited phone data plans, Wi-Fi is a vital service.
Most senior living communities these days have either installed campus-wide Wi-Fi or are looking into doing so. As far back as 2013, nearly three-quarters of surveyed chief financial officers said their organizations had invested in internet connectivity over the past year. If your community has not yet installed an always-available Wi-Fi system, you should consider doing so in the near future.
Learning and Socializing
Technology is improving seniors’ lives in a variety of ways, including the ability to continue learning and connecting with others. The availability of communication technologies like Skype in senior communities is allowing residents to connect with far-away loved ones. With video chat, individuals can get a firsthand view of family events, including weddings and graduations.
Meanwhile, “virtual” visits to museums and other educational attractions allow residents to become immersed in intellectually stimulating subject matter. Flatscreen TVs and smart boards — with their larger size, clear text and images, and high-quality sound — make it easy for residents to engage with apps, games, websites and videos.
Many communities also have incorporated laptops and tablets that create additional opportunities for learning and socializing through various apps, games and immersive online experiences.
Maximizing Safety and Convenience
Many senior living communities are using cutting-edge technologies to provide a safer, more comfortable environment for residents. In assisted living, for instance, tracking technologies allow residents’ family members to access data such as the frequency of visits by staff members.
The move to online billing and payment is lowering costs for many communities as well as improving convenience for residents and their family members. Within communities, amenities like charging stations allow residents and visitors to keep their mobile tech devices juiced up and ready to meet a variety of needs.
Creating a Positive First Impression
As you consider incorporating additional technology, don’t overlook the important role it can play in making a positive first impression. At a minimum, modern senior living communities must have functional, beautifully designed websites, but many seniors and their adult children have begun to expect more.
Many prospective residents now look for highly interactive experiences as they review their options for retirement living, and they seek a deeper level of information and understanding about the communities they consider. Functionality such as virtual tours or real-time availability of accommodations, along with their locations within your community, can provide the additional detail that prompts a prospect to delve deeper.
Staying Ahead of the Curve
Technology now plays a significant role in the lives of more seniors, with many owning smartphones and tablets, using online services like banking, and keeping up with friends and loved ones via social media platforms like Facebook.
Implementing new technologies in your senior living community can take significant investments of time and money, but it can play an essential role in remaining competitive within your local market. To ensure that your technology investment keeps pace with your prospects’ demands, consider working with a partner like Walker Marketing who can guide you in choosing and implementing tech solutions that support your marketing goals.