Human beings seek connections with others. As a result, we have used our technological marvels to connect to one another. And just as a connected community thrives in a challenging environment, connected seniors also enjoy the benefits of greater health and wellness.
How exactly does technology connect older people, and how can those connections help to keep them healthy?
Research increasingly shows that senior health is bolstered when doctors, hospitals and other caregivers coordinate with one another. A senior housing operator can play a central part in this through the use of technology, especially a well-designed communications portal. In addition to providing valuable communications tools to the resident, a portal also can serve as a hub of information flowing back and forth amongst various caregivers. By being better connected to one another, all the parties are better equipped to help maintain a senior’s health.
There’s another health value in the implementation of a communications portal. That is as a rallying point against the common scourge of isolation. Seniors tend to isolate as family and friends are dispersed. Even in a senior residence many will shy away from social opportunities. A communications portal helps to create new connections. It may be programmed to give residents simplified access to social networks and tools such as video chat. It can also act as a local information hub, pushing out notifications about upcoming community events, for example. By driving vibrant connections, this technology can help to ward off isolation and depression.
One of the most common health threats to seniors is the risk of falling. A simple tumble can lead to a hospital stay and grave complications. One solution lies in passive sensors that can not only watch for signs of trouble in a senior’s gait, but can transmit a warning back to central caregiver station, where a coordinator can in turn reach out to the nearest staff member and trigger a response. This web of connections between sensor, senior and caregiver — connections between the resident and the staff — enables wellness through smart technology.
For those who have trouble making daily connections – seniors with limited mobility, for example – advances in mobile technology offer a way to remain fit, healthy and in turn with one’s community, by creating new connections through easy-to-use devices. For example, a tablet may give access to email, chat and other forms of connection. It may also serve as an avenue to online communities where seniors share their stories and compare notes. Mobile devices also may help to connect seniors to valuable information, in the form of medical resources and even through video connections to telehealth practitioners.
We are, after all, social beings, and so it makes sense that we would bring our technology to bear in the service of forming new and deeper connections. This holds especially true among seniors, whose physical limitations can make it hard to stay connected. By using technology to reach out to friends, community, caregivers and medical resources, today’s seniors have a unique ability to take charge of their own wellness, to use a range of powerful tools to help stay social over time.