There is a silent killer out there among senior Americans: Social Isolation. This article discusses how senior living providers can find the right solution to get rid of the silent killer.
It is surprising that in today’s connected age of technology more than half of older adults in the United States feel that they live in isolation. Isolation is a serious issue for seniors, as long periods of social isolation can lead to depression, loneliness and lead to significant health risks.
Research has found that the health risks associated with isolation can be as significant as the well-known dangers of smoking and obesity. It is frightening to know that other research has shown that 26% of older adults have an increased risk of death due to the subjective feeling of loneliness.
Regular social interactions such as phone call, a family album post, a friendly game or having coffee with a neighbor, keep us psychologically sound and socially active. Without these interactions, we suffer; the health effects of prolonged isolation, according to the results of one study, are equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
The good news is that technology can help. An array of solutions and devices to help older Americans surmount isolation exist. However, selecting the right solution may be daunting. This article discusses key aspects to keep in mind when selecting a tech solution to help fight isolation for residents in senior living centers. A reactive Remote Patient Monitoring system we believe is less effective than a proactive engagement platforms which keeps the residents connected and socially active.
Leading Age’s CAST Social Connectedness and Engagement Technology workgroup, which includes Longwood at Oakmont and other aging services providers in late 2017 released a free, comprehensive online resource that covers a variety of tech solutions which aid social connectedness and engagement. This article outlines a step-by-step process senior living providers can follow to identify the right solution for them.
Research has proven Games and Mental simulation help slow down dementia’s spread.
This article by Majd Alwan, Executive Director of Leading Age’s CAST outlines their views. Some of our views differs from those presented by Majd and are outlined below.
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Before you embark on looking for a solution it is necessary to understand key aspects required for a successful deployment of solution to engage residents in a senior living.
Strategy to Success
Strategy to success consists of 5 important aspects to consider and are outlined below:
Social engagement solutions should have multiple channels: One size does not fit all – residents in Senior Living come with varied backgrounds some were technical, accountants; artists and some business men and women; Different seniors will get latched onto different aspects of the solution hence for best chance of success select solution which provides something for everyone. For deeper and continuous engagement of residents the solution should include multiple channels such as mental activities, entertainment, connectivity to family and friends, engaging knowledge and educational channels. Only a solution which covers these aspects will truly be suitable for a diverse resident population of a senior living.
One Size does not fit all – select a system with multiple engagement channels
Select a solution to which the residents will relate with – familiarity is key. It is said “You cannot teach an old dog new tricks”. Many seniors are set in their ways. Hence the solutions should provide a familiar interface to the senior population so they will ease into it as they feel familiar with it. For example, engagement platform can includes things such as family albums, familiar games which most of us played when younger – Memory, Card games; Connect 4; Checkers providing familiarity. Familiarity reduces the learning curve and brings back childhood memories. Both help in uptake of the solution.
System should require zero to minimal learning. For senior living use the KISS principle – Keep It Simple, Stupid. We believe a system which requires minimal to no training will have a much more uptake. We differ with a system as pointed out in Majd’s article requiring substantial training. Systems which require minimal training will have a much larger uptake.
Get a cost-effective system. Rather than investing in a high-end complex and hi-fi system which may have low uptake, leaving little to no budget for an alternate system.
Steps After Deployment
Right introduction of the solution helps increase uptake.
Marketing and Use
We believe creation of a community of senior residents who engage and use the system as a community has a potential to have a viral effect. The engagement with the solution must be so strong that the residents request their family members to get involved with them. This differs from Majd’s suggestion of using family members to help advocate for and encourage use of a tech solution by senior residents as this is not effective.
Training – Training and easing into the system is important. Training should be easy, fun and community based. This is one reason the selected system should require minimal to no training – this alone will positively influence the uptake of the solution.
Once deployed the benefit of the solution should be readily apparent – within days. Monitor the uptake of the solution, the first few hours and days are the most critical. If rapid uptake is not happening strategy must be adapted to see how a viral effect can be introduced. We differ with Majd Alwan’s article where Majd recommends soliciting feedback continually. We believe the feedback and uptake of the system should be apparent within days if not within few hours.
In conclusion the following are 3 key tips to help in the selection of solution to help keep the residents of your senior living facility engaged:
- Solution should have multiple channels of engagement
- Select a solution to which the residents will relate with – familiarity is key
- System should require minimal to no training
|Why Safety Labs’ Remote Care Solution?|
|Using our innovative technology, Senior living providers can engage their residents using multiple channels such as Family Album, Games, Educational and Health videos and Video chats.
In addition, built in Remote Patient Monitoring enables senior living care providers to monitor the health and wellbeing of these residents.
Virtual Video Visits (VVV) enables remote physicians to examine the residents.
Contact Us for more information, request a no-obligation 20 minute demo, download a White Paper, or download our Brochure to learn more.