Seniors Housing Business

MAY-JUN 2018

Seniors Housing Business is the magazine that helps you navigate the evolution of the seniors housing industry.

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22 Seniors Housing Business n May-June 2018 By Eric Taub My 92-year-old family member loved using her iPad, but once she arrived at her assisted living community in a Los Angeles suburb three years ago, that activity ceased because her residence did not offer Internet access. Today, the situation has changed. Wi-Fi Inter- net access has arrived — sort of. Spotty service means that it's not available in all the halls or rooms, or even in the centrally located ground- floor office of the marketing director. "It's not too bad — when it works," the director says, half-heartedly. Dismissing the need for connectivity in senior living is a mistake that will only grow in significance. While Internet access was only recently con- sidered a luxury, it is now as imperative as indoor plumbing and electricity. Whether we're Millennials or members of the Greatest Generation, Internet access and all the other connected technologies made possible by it have become interwoven in our lives, no matter what country we live in or how much money we have. "Technology can and must play a growing role in the functioning of today's senior care communities," says Ginna Baik, senior care practice leader for CDW Healthcare, a multi- brand technology solutions provider based in Vernon Hills, Illinois. "The Greatest Generation adopts technology to connect with their family, friends and the world. And the rise of the 'tech-savvy boomer,' who is the new and future resident, means that access to technology and the Internet is now a required amenity, similar to access to a gym or pool," adds Baik. Convergence is a game changer As medical costs rise, healthcare providers will increasingly be looking to residences to partner with in order to provide access to elec- tronic health records, and the active electronic monitoring of healthcare vital signs. Data accu- mulation and analysis will become key and demanded by providers and insurers alike to reduce costs and expedite treatment. Internet-connected technologies, such as sensors that can monitor an individual's vital signs or their movements around a room, can improve staff efficiencies, potentially enabling fewer unnecessary resident room visits. And as desktop applications, such as Micro- soft's Office suite, increasingly move to the Cloud, Internet access will become a necessity to access files and the tools needed to create them. Residents will benefit equally. LeadingAge, a Washington, D.C.-based association for non- profit providers of aging services, has found that older adults watch streaming television 55 percent more than the average American. And those adults will demand the ability to con- tinue to stream music and video services, such as Netflix and Spotify, to their televisions and tablets once they enter senior living. Adult children and other caregivers will want the ability to monitor the activities of their loved ones and communicate with them via voice, video and imagery. And residents will also look toward digital services to offer social engagement tools to help those who would otherwise be isolated, enabling them to reach out to their neighbors. "Boomers want confidence that their parents are engaged and that their home is living up to their expectations," says Bob Kramer, founder of the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care, who now serves as a strategic advisor for the 501(c)3 organization based in Annapolis, Maryland. In a 2014 study reported in The Journals of Gerontology, depression among the retired elderly was cut by 33 percent for those who used the Internet. That's important for both financial and social reasons. Depressed older adults spend 50 percent more on healthcare Is Your Internet Strategy Up to Speed? n Technology Online connectivity is a must for today's seniors. Owners and operators need to adapt or get left behind. Today's seniors see online connectivity as a necessity, not a luxury. Therefore, seniors housing operators need to make sure they are prepared to offer these services to residents. (Photo courtesy of GlynnDevins)

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