Fighting Resident Isolation in Senior Care: Is Technology the Answer?

Resident isolation can feel like a constant battle for senior living care professionals and clinicians. Whether a resident is choosing to withdraw from community life and stay in the apartment or is asked to remain in the apartment due to a contagious illness or other medical issue, isolated residents are simply not getting enough interaction with their peers or staff.

Isolation and corresponding feelings of loneliness can be detrimental to resident health. Without social interaction and feelings of belonging, seniors can become sicker than their otherwise connected peers. But how can clinicians foster feelings of belongingness and support when residents are confined (by choice or otherwise) to their apartments? The answer might only be a few taps, clicks, and likes away.

Senior Technology Solutions

While all residents can benefit from the connection and engagement that technology can bring, those who are less social with their peers and staff can benefit even more. Communities can bring connection to family and friends by providing a platform that is individualized according to resident preferences and abilities. A gateway that offers residents the chance to tap on a social media icon or email account can give the resident quick access to preferred applications. Families can even dial in via FaceTime or Skype to say hello to their loved one or to attend a care plan conference. To stay connected to the senior living community, that same gateway can provide information about community-specific menus, upcoming events, or important announcements. Communities can also partner with local doctors or specialists to allow for mHealth connections, giving residents a quick way to ask a question or follow up with a concern.

Benefits for the Resident

Giving every resident who is at risk for isolation an iPad or computer may not seem cost effective at first. However, residents who are lonely can create their own peer support networks through social media interaction or can feel a part of their previous community of friends and family through email or video conferencing. Connecting with peers within the senior care community is ideal, certainly. However, it isn’t always attainable or realistic for all residents. With an email account and a Facebook page or with a WiFi connection to a local university to audit classes, a resident staying in a small apartment can have access to a world of opportunities.

Benefits for the Community

Engaged residents are often happy and informed residents. Engaged families are often happy and informed families. Keeping residents and families in technology at the community can close the backdoor and keep resident satisfaction scores up. Communities with engaged residents can benefit from lover move-out rates as well as the possibility for healthier and happier residents.

What technology solutions are you currently giving your isolated residents access to? What are the barriers that are preventing you from increasing that access?

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