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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.