Everyone loses when seniors live in isolation.
Older adults suffer loneliness, depression, declining health, when they are denied ordinary social ties. he community suffers too, when the accumulated wisdom of decades is kept locked away, rather than being passed along to the next generation.
Software can help. As in so many other aspects of our daily life, technology can ease the burden of loneliness, with a range of software tools available to integrate seniors and help keep them in touch with family, friends, and community.
Discussion-room software and bulletin boards
Discussion-room software and bulletin boards offers a range of benefits. On the external side, the ability to send and receive messages in real time can renew ties to distant loved ones. Within a senior residence, meanwhile, chat makes it possible to keep in touch with neighbors, even when limited mobility might otherwise keep a senior isolated.
Video chat takes that premise one step further, bringing a face-to-face element to these conversations. While there’s much to be said for the virtues of text, nothing can quite replace the sense of connection when looking into the eyes of a daughter or grandson. Today’s video chat software makes it easy to launch a chat session, often with the press of a single button.
Social media is likely to be virtually ubiquitous among a senior’s adult children. ne sure way to stay connected is to meet the younger people where they live: In the realm of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Here again these tools of connectivity are made even more convenient with software configurations designed to simplify access for older persons.
Community calendars can be an indispensible part of keeping seniors plugged into their own communities. A shared calendar can help seniors track events, schedule outings, participate in activities they otherwise might have missed. When built with seniors in mind, such calendars can be easy to access and simple to manage.
Will all its possible advantages, software alone won’t pull seniors out of their isolation. It takes thoughtful management by senior housing operators to get the most out of these systems.
It begins with a sophisticated communications portal, a central management space where property managers can input relevant information and manage its distribution. Of course seniors will need access to the system – PCs, tablets, other devices – but the key is to have that central digital meeting place, that software-defined, streamlined access.
In addition, the savvy housing operator all will engage the services of a tech guru, someone qualified to ensure that all this software is running smoothly, that systems are intact and seniors able to access the tools they need. Ideally an on-site consultant can manage infrastructure and troubleshoot to keep things simple and clear for residents.
Isolation does not have to be inevitable. The software tools already exist to keep seniors engaged with distant loved ones and neighbors in their community. With a sophisticated communications portal, and the support of a savvy IT consultant, these tools can go a long way toward alleviating the loneliness that is so often the scourge of one’s senior years.