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SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Technology in Senior Living: How is it Impacting the Sector?

Technology in Senior Living: How is it Impacting the Sector?
The Siliconreview
18 Febuary, 2022

Technology has already revolutionized the way we work, the way we communicate and the way we seek knowledge. But how has the digital age affected Senior Living?

The Senior Living sector is big business. With an estimated 1.5 million people turning 65 every year, it’s no surprise that the market is expected to reach almost $300 billion before 2022. A big market needs more help than ever to succeed in an increasingly competitive environment; that’s where technology can come into play.

What is the impact of technology on senior living?

According to 2016 data from the U.S. Census Bureau, a 19% increase in seniors over 65 years old. In Europe, that figure is estimated to be 25%. In Japan, where there is currently an ageing crisis due to a low birth rate, there is an estimated 30% increase.

  • The Rise in the Use of Smartphones

More than 15% of all residents of senior living facilities have smartphones. That’s according to the 2016 report from Forrester Consulting. Right now, it’s safe to assume that number is even higher. According to Pew Research, 90% of people under 30 own a smartphone. (I’m in the 41-50 demographic, so this isn’t surprising).

Today, it’s impossible to promote a senior living facility without a web presence and active social media accounts. But there’s been a shift in how senior living facilities promote themselves. For example, facilities would post pictures of a beautiful dining room or lobby in the past and expect people to be impressed. They discovered that people weren’t necessarily excited about their beautiful lobbies—they were interested in the residents.

  • Communication with the Outside World

The top three most impactful technologies on the communications side include video calling with family and friends (53%), online resident directories (45%) and online scheduling (44%).

Video calling is the most commonly used technology to communicate with family and friends. According to a recent study, “Video Calling in Nursing Homes and Assisted Living,” 87 per cent of consumers use video calling in senior care facilities. This helps alleviate family fears of what is going on in their loved ones’ lives. Eighty-three per cent of consumers say they feel more confident knowing their loved ones are safe, one in two say they feel more connected to their family member in care, and a third say they can better understand what lifestyle changes they may need to make to better support the individual.

Modern communication with the outside world allows senior living residents to feel like they are still a part of their community. It also offers them peace of mind, knowing their families are well informed about current events, status and how to best advocate for them in their care.

  • The rise in the use of Medical Technology

Senior living is going hi-tech! An increasing number of senior living centers are using connected devices and sensors to monitor patient health remotely. Online menus, automated medication dispensers and specialized doorbells that alert staff to the presence of visitors are just a few examples of recent technological innovations. These new technologies improve the quality of life for residents and families; they also increase revenues for many senior living communities. Medical technology will be a 1.7 trillion dollar market by 2023, indicating a strong need for systems to manage this growth. Additionally, there has been a significant rise in mental health technology, which tracks depression, dementia, sleep patterns and more. Many senior living centres can integrate these devices into the lives of their residents seamlessly, ensuring that the patient’s overall health and happiness are promoted at all times.

  • Easier access to data for insight into resident care and operational effectiveness

Technology is here to stay and has the potential to completely change the way we interact with people in senior living. Technology—or “technology-enabled”, as some like to say—is enabling businesses to be more data-driven and more informed about their operations, resident care, and overall quality of life for residents.

How? A major benefit technology has brought to senior living is an easier way to look at data. This data can be used to improve the quality of life for residents. But it will take a willingness on the part of the industry to bring these types of technologies into facilities. So, how can they be introduced?

The first step is simply getting everyone on the same page, from traditionalists to innovators, and defining terms such as “cognitive”, “mechanical”, “automated”, and “smart”. These are the building blocks that we need to move forward on a path towards technology-enriched senior living. I say that all types of eldercare professionals need to be on board because it will allow us to truly see what our residents want out of their lives – ultimately helping us serve them better. This also means that while many are excited about the automated features built into these technologies, some will still prefer a human touch or perhaps need a human touch

  • Location-Based Services

Technology is changing how seniors live, work, and interact with their surrounding environment. For example, we’re seeing the implementation of location-based services that allow residents to have greater interaction with their environments.

What Is Location-Based Services

Location-based services are defined as technologies that connect people and places through three important elements: location awareness, context awareness, and social awareness. A location-based service displays what is near you using a device’s location, such as smartphones and tablets, while simultaneously providing information based on your personal preferences.

Wrapping up

Technology in Senior Living will continue to improve the lives of both residents and their families. As technology changes, the sector’s need for health care professionals will also change. Health care professionals will not receive their training in a normal classroom setting, but they will learn through online programs. The BLS reports that “the demand for postsecondary education services will increase as more adults seek higher education degrees to meet the growing demand for skilled workers” (“Occupational Projections”).

However, like all things, technology-based services are not without their challenges. Here are the top five challenges:

  1. Increased Costs
  2. Loss of Control
  3. Increased Risk of Abuse
  4. Decreased Productivity
  5. Safety Concerns

While these challenges exist, it is important to remember that technology-based services can be highly beneficial in senior living.