Senior living communities help older adults age gracefully and connect with others in a similar life stage. But a staggering 88 percent of potential residents and their families are hesitant to join one. The number-one concern: a perceived lack of caregiver support.
Clearing this hurdle is a must in 2024. And a healthy aging model should be a core part of your approach. It can give your staff a framework to understand how to best support older adults.
As the World Health Organization defines it, healthy aging depends on creating an environment that supports “the functional ability that enables wellbeing in older age.” Put simply, it’s a way to help older adults continue living a full and dignified life.
But what makes for a great healthy aging model? We’ll explain the five key fundamentals in this piece.
1. Meet Every Resident’s Basic Needs
Every family expects caregivers to provide a baseline level of support to older adults. This means ensuring access to…
- Diverse and nutritious dining options. Residents should be able to enjoy a well-rounded diet with rotating menu options – just like they would at home or in a restaurant. What’s more, your engagement portal should let residents submit dietary restrictions, see what’s on the menu, and request dishes for future meals.
- Medical support. Equip senior living staff with digital tools to manage medications and wellness check-ins for every resident. And consider outfitting rooms or apartments with smart home technology (like an Alexa-powered device) so residents can request emergency support with a voice command.
- A well-maintained living space. Your engagement portal should make it easy for residents to submit and track maintenance requests if there’s, say, an HVAC issue or plumbing leak.
- Human connection. Many older adults suffer from loneliness or social isolation, putting them at greater risk for everything from dementia to depression. So it’s crucial to give your residents plenty of opportunities to socialize with others and connect with family. The right technology can help: a tablet, for instance, makes it easy to video-call relatives at a moment’s notice.
Make sure your healthy aging model checks these boxes. But also take note of the throughline here: with software and smart devices, your staff can consistently meet residents’ basic needs – and keep families happy with the quality of support.
2. Help Residents Build and Maintain Relationships
We noted that older adults need opportunities for human connection. Your life enrichment program can help – but only if it’s easy for residents to engage with.
Many senior living communities, though, still use a paper-based system for activity sign-ups and announcements. And for residents, that can quickly become a hassle. Just picture it: they have to race to a physical sign-up sheet as soon as it’s posted. If they don’t get there soon enough, they might miss out on their favorite activities. And in the process, they’ll lose the chance to meet older adults who share similar interests.
(That was a very real problem for folks at Unisen Senior Living – here’s how they overcame it.)
Here’s where technology can help. Smart Aging™ software uses AI and engagement data to quickly connect residents to enrichment activities they’ll love. The platform offers personalized recommendations based on activity attendance and stated interests. So if a resident has played tennis three times this week, they might get a suggestion to sign up for pickleball too.
Of course, even the best of platforms won’t satisfy residents if they’re frustrating to navigate. That’s why Smart Aging™ software puts every recommendation in a single, intuitive dashboard. This simple design makes it easier for residents to sign up for relationship-building activities in under three clicks (a target Icon strives for in every digital solution). Over time, they’re bound to rave to family and friends about this software – a win for long-term adoption.
3. Help Residents Maintain Their Mobility
It’s no secret that older adults face mobility challenges as they age. Your healthy aging model should give residents the resources they need to maintain their mobility for as long as possible and manage challenges as they arise.
A few questions worth asking:
- How well do you understand residents’ mobility needs? Use your engagement portal to regularly survey residents about their activity preferences and related mobility concerns. You can use this data to inform community programming.
- What exercise opportunities are available? Give your residents a healthy variety for people of all mobility levels: think everything from tai chi to Zumba.
- How well are you balancing indoor and outdoor activities? While indoor exercise is great for many older adults, outdoor alternatives are just as helpful – and can even motivate folks to exercise more over time.
By helping residents stay mobile, you can encourage a wellness-first lifestyle that supports healthy aging.
4. Help Residents Contribute to Society
Many older adults have spent a lifetime giving back to their local communities. That work shouldn’t have to stop as a senior living resident. Your healthy aging model should empower residents to use their gift of service however they see fit.
In practice, that means connecting residents to…
- Local soup kitchens.
- Park or waterway cleanups.
- Youth mentorship opportunities.
- Local arts programs.
There’s a lot more than can go on this list – and your residents probably have a few ideas themselves. Make it a habit to ask how they like to give back.
5. Empower Each Resident to Learn, Grow, and Make Decisions
Plenty of older adults are eager to continue expanding their knowledge. Your community can nurture that desire through a blend of in-person and digital resources.
For instance, you might hold a monthly book club for residents. Or bring in outside experts to run occasional seminars. You could even encourage residents to share their own talents with each other (e.g., giving an expert knitter the space to teach a crash course).
On the digital side of things, resident tech committees can be a powerful way to help older adults leverage their tech savvy. Committee members can serve as peer tech mentors for other residents. And they can evaluate software or smart device vendors to ensure they meet the needs of your community.
That last part is important: these committees empower residents to make decisions about their community. But residents also need the ability to make smaller-scale decisions that impact their day to day.
Here’s where the self-service tools we’ve discussed so far really start to shine. Digital maintenance requests, online dining reservations, one-click event RSVPs – each capability puts more decision-making power in residents’ hands. That’s crucial for a healthy aging model that helps older adults thrive.
Keep a Focus on Healthy Aging
With a robust healthy aging framework, you can help residents and their families feel confident in your senior living experience. To execute, though, you’ll need software that enriches residents’ lives without burdening your staff.
That’s what we’ve built at Icon. From life enrichment management to family communications, we’ve designed a full suite of senior living software to help you efficiently meet residents’ needs.Want to learn more about how tech can sharpen your focus on healthy aging? Drop us a line – we’d love to hear from you.