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New research indicates ways in which caregivers can implement technology

February 21, 2014

Retirement communities have the ability to embrace technology within homes across the board by incorporating devices that may promote recreational activities, streamline medical records or make caregivers' lives easier with digital assistive programs. While the opportunities are endless, some senior living homes have been reluctant to adopt new technologies due to a lack of understanding or little desire to install complicated products. These concerns may be common, but also easily addressable, as one organization partnered with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to discover how to overcome these problems.

GeriJoy, a company that provides virtual companions for seniors, conducted a focus group study at MIT, and uncovered the five top concerns of caregivers. According to a company press release, the data identifies that the main issues that hold caregivers back include a lack of general understanding, a need for resources to train staff members and finding a way to ensure that technologies are accessible to all users.

Making devices easy to use for everyone
Understanding how to use mobile, tablet and computer programs may come naturally for some, but others have a difficult time learning how to open and operate digital tools. The study found that industry experts suggested implementing easier-to-use devices within senior living homes. HIT Consultant added that any advanced items used within a home should come with 24/7 assistance and support, should caregivers have any questions down the road. Companies that seek to invent devices for seniors, whether games or online medical record databases, should keep ease-of-use in mind throughout the creation process.

Integrating human and technological services
The study emphasized that new devices installed within communities, including those in independent living homes, should not replace currently human-operated services. Instead, they should assist employees, creating a blend of digital and human services to further increase effectiveness. Additionally, caregivers must receive proper training in all new devices to ensure residents and staff are getting the most from their technology. For example, if a home chooses to adopt a new video game system for recreational use, all members of the community need to understand how to properly treat the system and contact help desks if problems arise.

Individualizing devices for users
One of the most important challenges facing senior living homes is customizing technologies to suit individual needs. This is especially important for older adults whose devices are catered toward a specific need, such as increasing mobility or assisting with memory care. Prior to adopting devices, senior homes should ensure residents' needs are properly met and monitored.