One of the most critical factors in ensuring that residents of senior living facilities are happy is family interaction. The COVID-19 pandemic made this especially difficult since many facilities banned visitors to prevent further spread of the virus. Families in many states would have been unable to visit anyway with some on lock-down and others unwilling to risk travel. The pandemic revealed some of the communication gaps we may have been unaware of.
Without the ability to visit in-person, families were unable to see their loved ones. Families worried about their well-being and residents felt isolated. While recent events may have been the most dramatic evidence of the importance of keeping seniors connected, it’s not limited to such extreme conditions. Even without the worry of a pandemic, it can be tough to stay in touch, especially for relatives and friends who do not live nearby.
Making technology simple can make communication less of an event and more of an ongoing relationship between seniors, family and friends. The right technology can be the next best thing to an in-person visit.
What will it take to keep seniors connected?
Meet Them Where They Are
Like people in every age group, senior living residents will have varying levels of comfort with technology. Start with an assessment of their current knowledge and comfort so that you know how much training they will need. This will also prevent talking down to people who are tech savvy. Understanding the audience is vital to any educational opportunity. Having real research allows your senior living facility to provide a better and more effective solution.
Just hearing about the technology brings overwhelming feelings to some people. Similar to a consumer situation, feeling uncomfortable or not knowledgeable enough will lead to shutting out the message and nothing gets accomplished.
Check Their Equipment
Be sure that all devices are in good working order. Most video communication doesn’t take more than a smartphone or basic tablet. Offer to help them download appropriate apps. If they need to upgrade to more current technologies, let them or their families know. Simple devices like a Kindle Fire or similar can be purchased for less than $50.
Teach Them What They Need to Know
Take some time to teach residents how to use the technology. Zoom meetings and Facetime are simple for most to use. If seniors are still uncomfortable managing on their own, encourage family members to schedule calls through staff, so they can help them get started. Seniors may also be interested in social media. For example, Instagram can be a fun way to keep up with what family and friends are up to, even if they are not interested in posting photos of their own.
Senior living is about quality of life at every age. As much as technology has made our lives easier, technology can help keep seniors safely engaged no matter what is going on in the world.