The Search: How Tech Savvy is the Senior Living Community You’re Touring?

by Rachel Keranen

Across the senior living community spectrum, there’s a wide array of technology adoption. Some communities have technology fully integrated into every workflow, while others are still using paper and pens across the board. In Japan, where technology is heavily incorporated into senior care, one company is even developing exoskeletons to help caregivers perform safer lifts!

Given the wide range of tech adoption, it’s a good idea to ask how the communities you’re touring integrate technology, and how well set up it is to improve the quality of life for your mom or dad.

Resident Support Technology

Technology can add an extra layer of safety in senior living communities by tracking when seniors need help without invading their privacy. Many systems can discreetly monitor residents well being by tracking movement, for example, and notifying staff when a resident doesn’t move for a prolonged period of time.

We recommend asking:

  • How is the staff notified of any calls coming in from the residents?
  • Do you have the ability to monitor resident whereabouts?
  • How do you know if a resident has fallen and needs help?

Healthcare Technology

If you’ve been to the doctor in the past few years, you’ve probably noticed your nurse and physician documenting your conversation on the computer in your electronic medical record. The same (or similar) technology exists for seniors.

In some senior living communities, medical records are completely electronic and all medication orders are sent directly to the pharmacy. Community staff use iPads to document care in real time, and physician orders come in electronically to nurses and other caregivers. The technology integration can improve efficiency and reduces the propensity of errors.

We suggest asking:

  • How do you use tech to manage med administration?
  • How are nurses and pharmacists notified about a doctor's’ orders?

Internet Technology

Technology as part of the care delivery process isn’t the only tech you should ask about. Most senior living communities will offer wifi and internet access for email, streaming tv shows, playing games, and other internet use. If you don’t think your parent needs wifi, you’d be surprised to see how tech savvy most senior living residents are!

Ask each community:

  • Do you have wifi in each room? Is it included in the cost?
  • Do you have staff who can help my parent use Skype to talk to their family or other apps if they need help?

There’s no one set of tech that signifies top quality, but asking questions about technology options while touring and comparing responses is a good way to get a feel for how well-versed in technology a community is and how it will be part of the quality of care.

What technology does your parent use at home? What innovative uses of tech have you seen in the senior living communities you’ve toured?

Photo credit: Creative Commons image by Anne Worner

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