Is technology a differentiator in retirement housing? If so what... if not, then why not?

Surfing around the websites that help with defining and guiding those in search of independent living, assisted living, nursing home and the combination of these known as a CCRC (continuing care retirement communities), you can spend time on guidance sites like Gilbert Guide, RetirementHomes.com, the unfortunately-named APlace for Mom, and the websites of housing providers, both non-profit and for profit like Ecumen, Sunrise, and Senior Living Communities

Now let's take a look at the examples of two facilities: for example, Kissimmee Village, a Good Samaritan Society community in Florida that lists computer room, computer access, internet access, personal emergency response service, and wireless internet access in its list of Gilbert Guide attributes.  And here's Sunrise of San Mateo, CA, which has pull cord response -- and that's about it for technology attributes.

And while we're on the Kissimmee Village vs. Sunrise comparison, today's guidelines for selection of a facility tackle many aspects of a community, but do not advise families to look into computer usage and access, even though broadband use among seniors is steadliy growing -- and with it the use of e-mail and web surfing.

So here are a series of questions -- if you have an answer, please advise -- if you think this should be a quantified and analyzed survey, please advise.

1. Why don't facilities market clearly to seniors and their families (often engaged in assessing quality of the facility) that grandmother can and will be online? Kissimmee Village cares enough about technology attributes to provide them to Gilbert Guide, but its own website does not promote it. Wouldn't tech-loving adult children want to know? And even if they don't ask, why not tell them?

2. Vendors may have video examples of facility residents successfully using a computer -- like PointerWare and their YouTube video. With appropriate permissions, what is the importance of success story videos for vendors who market tech-related products into CCRCs, ALFs, and independent living?

3. Although cognitive fitness is growing as a category, what retirement housing operators promote a 'brain gym' as part of their wellness/fitness program? There is no reason why ALFs, etc., couldn't help residents and community members participate in ASA-recognized regional "MindAlert' programs.

4. How much money do retirement housing providers spend on technology per year per resident -- versus technology for their own management efficiency? Growing? Shrinking? How do they decide when infrastructure must be upgraded, from a computer in the activities room to a computer for each resident apartment?

5. Are technology options (like an in-room computer with touch screen, home monitoring technology) offered as a la carte menu add-ons or bundled into the charge of facilities, as indicated in the GE-Intel announcement article?

Although each one of these questions leads to another question, that's enough for now.

I agree if they have it they

I agree if they have it they should advertise it and yes I believe its a great selling point. Some facilities don't have the funds to do every room but there are ways to slowly get into this. Provide a computer room with a couple of computers. Also provide wireless access for people that have their own PC's/Laptops. Have activities departments schedule pc/web training opportunites bringing in local people to help. At one of our facilities, we do a program called Surfin Seniors.

Keep Great articles coming!

New Question: Cost of technology for living at home.

Great Post Laurie,

My question pertains to the aging in place movement. What is the cost of technology for a senior who wants to remain in their home versus the cost of technology in a retirement facility? What does the average facility offer. I think that this might be another argument for growing old in your own home.

Keep up the good posts,
Bill

Technology for the 'average' facility

Until I hear or learn otherwise, the 'average' facility, or more strongly put, the majority of facilities (independent living, assisted living, CCRCs etc), offer little or no technology for residents. Those that do are the exception, not the rule. 

If you go by the $93.93/month mentioned in this post, and then you factor in the averagecost of Assisted Living facilities in the US (AARP) pegged at $3000 per month -- way low of course for high-cost areas of the US -- and you agree that most have little to offer except perhaps a computer in the activities area, it is far cheaper to buy technology and put it in the home. 

 

 

Technology in retirement

As more of the baby boomers retire, facilties without wireless (untethered) access will have a harder time competing. Further all new in home biomed monitoring devices are now wireless. (blood pressure, glucose and even medication adminstration). At Kaiser, we tested out the brain cognitive games and they get a thumbs up as does the WII fit. Older folks will continue to enjoy interactive gaming and they are a growing segment of the gaming world.

Aging IN PLACE Technologies

Aloha,

The age wave is a powerful driver of change and innovation. Baby boomers want to remain at home and they will adopt user friendly and affordable technologies-if they are presented to them correctly. (see www.thesilversurfersclub.blogspot.com)

Suggestion for question 2.

It is important for a vendor to explain what his or her product does but it is much more powerful when the actual user or customer explains the value in thier own language. As a SoftShell affiliate I use a video that documents actual users explaining to thier peers what they feel is important. "My grand kids think I am pretty cool, it doesn't get much better than that" goes to the real heart of the technology value equation. "if I can do it, anyone can" relieves the fear of technology. Huge smiles and praise from the user make the technology go away and the humanity emerge.

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