Seniors view their independence as a major quality-of-life metric. One study found that 94 percent of retirees say independence is a major source of satisfaction. No one wants to feel hemmed in by the physical or social limitations that seem to be inevitable with aging.
Some worry that the move to a senior housing residence may further compromise their independence, when in fact the opposite typically is true. Senior living operators may offer a broad range of services to help seniors achieve their goal of continued independence.
Good health is of course a paramount measure of one’s ability to remain independent and in control of one’s own life. Senior housing can provide for this in a number of ways.
Take for instance fall prevention. Despite being one of the biggest risks to senior health, falls can be managed and often prevented using, among other solutions, remote monitoring technology. For example, sensors that measure gait, stride and other key indicators can establish when a senior is at elevated risk for a fall, notifying both caregivers and approved family members. Fewer falls means greater autonomy.
A common theme in the healthcare world these days is the need to reduce unnecessary hospitalizations. Nowhere is this more true than in the arena of senior independence. Time spent in the hospital inevitably diminishes quality of life, while keeping seniors out of the hospital goes a long way to ensuring ongoing independence.
Senior communities can provide a number of services to help reduce hospitalizations. They can, for instance, participate in care coordination efforts, collaborating with doctors, hospitals and other providers to ensure solid communications. With a strong communications infrastructure, a senior residence also can bring family into the loop. When a senior’s entire care giving team is plugged in together through a solid base of communications technology, unnecessary hospitalizations may dramatically decrease.
The ability to interact with others, to surround oneself with a caring community of family and friends, is one of the hallmarks of independence. Healthy socialization drives a sense of autonomy. Senior housing communities are uniquely poised to meet that need.
Housing operators can offer many of the traditional “social” services: Communal meals, planned activities, and outings into the community. With advanced technology, it’s possible to go even further. Senior housing today can implement a strong intra-community backbone of communications services – a portal that invites seniors to engage with their friends and loved ones.
Such a service can help them stay better connected, informed, entertained and engaged in life. Whether it beopening the doors to social media, helping the senior to easily engage in video calls, or fostering ties between seniors and their neighbors, as well as the larger community, enabling social connectedness fosters independence.
Underlying all these efforts is, first and foremost, a dedication to fostering resident wellness. That is the core of independence. Operators can help residents gain convenient access to medical care. They can put in place health and exercise centers that are friendly to seniors’ needs. And they can invest in technology, for instance remote health monitoring systems that can be used to keep an eye on residents’ vital signs around the clock and provide early illness detection alerts for preventative intervention.
By pursuing such measures, an operator can help ensure resident independence – as well as resident satisfaction.