Ask the Experts: Seniors & Technology

Technology is rapidly evolving, and those changes impact every part of our lives. T&S reached out to experts in senior living to learn more about how communities implement innovations to improve the lives of residents and to ensure staff can work smarter.

Meet the Experts

Terry Walsh, president and CEO of Friendship Village Senior Services

Nick Williams, director of resident services and security at The Gatesworth

How is the role of technology in senior living evolving?

NW: Technology in senior living enables our residents to stay in contact with their loved ones and friends. It creates an environment for them to be more mobile, while staying up to date with what’s going on around them and in the world. In my tenure, I have seen an increase in the number of mobile devices that a resident may use. More are beginning to carry a smartphone, tablet and some sort of computer, whether laptop or desktop.

TW: Friendship Villages is an early adopter of technology, and many innovative tech companies come to us to try and test new systems. We use telemedicine to bring live physicians to our skilled nursing facilities to reduce the need to send residents to the hospital. We use technology to help residents remain engaged with the world and to reduce their “loneliness factor.” We have robust community information apps and internal television channels to keep them well-informed. Internally, we are working with various artificial intelligence (AI) technologies on a variety of concerns, including fall prevention.

What are common challenges older adults face with technology?

NW: Some common trouble spots that we see when assisting residents are: no internet connection, help setting up or troubleshooting a printer, how to download or use an app, or setting up a streaming service on their TV.

TW: We see residents struggling with the lack of human interaction when trying to learn a new technology by themselves and establishing routine practice where they are confident and comfortable. Once there, we see that they become fairly adept at using the technology as it gives them more independence to research topics of interest, access entertainment, communicate with their families and more.

How can senior living communities help them navigate new technologies?

NW: Residents have a variety of skill levels regarding technology—some might regularly use a tablet, laptop and cell phone to help manage their day-to-day, while others might be starting off on their first cell phone. At The Gatesworth, we uncover what the resident is trying to do and then walk with them step by step to achieve that goal. Our staff meets the resident at a location convenient to them—whether that be their apartment, a common area or simply passing in the hallway to answer a question.

TW: Friendship Villages has a team that is essentially our own “Geek Squad” of IT experts who are very adept at getting residents set up in their residences. They offer advice on using new devices, troubleshoot problems and offer general assistance upon request.

From a staff perspective, how does technology support your work?

NW: The use of technology in our workplace is crucial to helping keep the day running smoothly. It allows for us to communicate more effectively with our peers. Additionally, it creates alignment between departments—especially when we cannot all be in the same place simultaneously. As tech continues to evolve, we will continue to embrace it.

TW: Everything we do revolves around helping our residents live robustly and independently longer, and our resident-facing and behind-the-scenes operational technologies are all pointed to achieving these goals effectively and efficiently. Our interactions with residents are person-to-person but, behind the scenes, there is a lot of technology in play to help.

How do communities implement technology to improve quality of life for residents?

NW: Technology allows our residents and guests to share experiences. It allows us to provide better communication. This can range from messages regarding a fantastic upcoming event to alerts for severe weather in our area. Technology enables us to communicate effectively with residents and meet them on the platform of choice, whether it’s email, text message, phone call or anything

TW: While the topic of technology is often assumed to mean electronics, Friendship Villages also is known as a leader in the use of “non-electronic” technologies. One example is our wound care program. We were the first worldwide evaluation site for a program called Convatec, which uses technologically-advanced bandages and other treatments to heal wounds better and more quickly.





Exit mobile version
Skip to toolbar