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Independent living communities adopt more technology

February 4, 2014

To increase efficiency and comfort for their residents, independent living communities have begun to adopt more technology, from online records to digital devices in residents' apartment homes. This shift toward digitally-friendly senior housing used to be frowned upon due to lack of interest and understanding, but as more older adults become increasingly knowledgeable with these devices, communities are incorporating them within their walls. There are a wide variety of ways technology has been used in different retirement communities, including making day-to-day operations easier through the use of light sensors and providing high-speed Internet access for all residents.

Recreational technology
Some senior living campuses have begun to encourage residents to use recreational technology, including mobile phones, tablets, video games and personal computers. These devices provide opportunities for seniors to connect to their friends and family, read a wealth of information through both e-books and the Web, and keep their minds active by playing engaging games. Additionally, this type of technology lets seniors engage in activities that interest them, from creating their own digital farms to participating in a virtual workout session. Dr. Chuck McGlade, founder and CEO of Ridgeline Senior Living Management Company, told Senior Housing News that more independent living communities would incorporate these items in the future due to the benefits they bring to their residents.

"I see more brain games and other fitness well-being programs geared towards maintaining vitality becoming popular," McGlade told the news source.

Mobile technology has become especially popular within senior housing facilities. This past year, Erickson Living was one of the centers that released its own mobile app aimed at keeping residents connected to themselves and the outside surrounding community. The app allows users to access activities, staff information, transportation, local resident directors and the menus for food served on any day at the on-site restaurants.

3-D imaging
While this type of technology is still relatively new, some senior living communities have adopted programs that allow them to recreate an entire community digitally so potential residents can take virtual tours of the area. This software provides residents and directors the ability to craft and explore a community virtually, meaning they can examine the entire community from the comfort of their own homes. Some programs even let viewers move furniture around in the home, creating a floor plan without the hassle of physically moving pieces around. Though this technology has not yet been widely adopted by a large number of communities, it offers a glimpse into the future of 3-D software and senior living.