How to Nurture Resident Wellness Through Senior Living Tech
Updated 1.8.21 from a post originally published 2.10.20.
The word “wellness” gets thrown around a lot these days. With new apps, products, and trends continuously promoting new ways to be healthy, wellness may not always feel accessible – especially to older adults, an age group often excluded by the wellness industry.
Wellness is highly subjective: contrary to what a wellness brand might advertise as the ideal, being well looks different for everyone. In senior living, communities should focus on finding new solutions that allow residents to strengthen three key dimensions of wellness: social, physical, and emotional health.
Thanks to new tech tools, it’s easier than ever for senior living residents to make choices that enable them to feel their best. And during the pandemic, safe virtual programming has been vital to seniors’ wellbeing. Here’s a look at those tools and how they can help.
EHRs Make it Easy to Manage Health Conditions
Sixty percent of older adults have two or more chronic conditions. In assisted living communities, chances are good that a majority of residents are managing conditions such as heart disease or diabetes.
Electronic health records (EHRs) benefit everyone in an assisted living community. By moving residents’ health data online, communities can streamline care, lower staff turnover, increase family engagement, and drive state compliance – just to name a few of the merits of EHRs.
Crucially, of course, EHRs enable staff to make sure every resident is getting the personalized treatment they need to manage their conditions and stay healthy. EHRs go hand in hand with electronic Medical Administration Records (eMARs), which allow staff to keep track of prescription distribution for every resident in a community. EHRs and eMARs ensure smooth transitions from hospitalizations and capture all of a resident’s health information from different providers.
Clinical treatment aside, though, there’s a hidden symptom of managing chronic health conditions: it’s incredibly stressful.
Think of all the work that falls on people to organize their medical care: retrieving files from doctors’ offices, filling out paperwork, playing phone tag with doctors. Put simply, a manual health storage system can bring more chronic stress into your life.
With an electronic system, though, the administrative side of managing your health becomes hassle-free. Residents and staff alike can use EHRs to renew prescriptions, schedule appointments, and readily access forms so the focus remains on providing or receiving care, rather than coordinating it.
Senior Living Community Engagement Platforms Encourage an Active Lifestyle and Social Wellbeing
Another treatment option for older adults managing chronic conditions: lifestyle changes. Staying active is particularly important for older adults’ overall health, and a community engagement platform can make it easier for assisted living residents to find the fitness activities that are right for them.
Without a digital platform, circulating schedule information about wellness programming is tricky: residents might miss bulletin boards and they might not know where to look for fitness calendars. With an online community engagement platform, though, residents have much better access to the information they’re looking for.
Exercise is about choice and finding something that works for each individual resident. That can’t happen if they don’t know what’s available. Online platforms empower residents to try new things and do what they love.
Plus, moving into a senior living community is a daunting social transition. New residents often have to juggle staying in touch with family and friends at home while making connections in their community. The pandemic’s lockdowns and quarantines have only exacerbated feelings of loneliness among residents.
Social isolation can have adverse effects on health, which is why it’s so important for older adults who are often dealing with other health conditions to maintain vitality and keep a healthy social life. Tech can help them get there.
Enter the senior living community engagement platform: it’s like social media for assisted living. After all, 60 percent of Baby Boomers use Facebook, meaning this age group has embraced online networking.
Using a community engagement app, residents can get to know other residents who share common interests. They can look at all the social programming happening in their community to find the events where they’ll be able to foster meaningful relationships.
A community engagement platform doesn’t just promote wellness, though – it actually lets residents track dimensions of wellness. A platform like Caremerge’s will let residents and staff see their wellness chart broken down into intellectual, spiritual, purposeful, and vocational health, in addition to emotional, social, and physical health.
Family Engagement Apps and Voice Technology Aid Emotional Health
Speaking of emotional health, the transition to senior living can also take a toll on older adults’ emotional wellbeing without strong support networks. That toll has only been worsened during the pandemic, when most families couldn’t visit.
With family engagement apps, though, residents and loved ones can communicate as frequently as they want, digitally. With a family engagement app, staff can send photos and messages to residents’ family members, and family members can see a loved one’s activities and community events in real time. The app also helps staff set up video calls for residents.
Another new way senior living residents can maintain emotional wellbeing is by simply asking Alexa. Voice technology can actually help prevent isolation and loneliness in older adults – talking to an Alexa every day can provide residents with a sense of comfort and familiarity.
Plus, voice assistants can tailor experiences to a resident’s preferences. Residents tell Alexa to play their favorite album or ask for their friend’s phone number, for instance.
Tech Gives Senior Living the Wellness Tools It Needs
Better health outcomes for older adults rely on many different factors: having access to individualized care, keeping an active lifestyle, and feeling a sense of belonging.
New technology tools are making it easier for communities to provide those to residents – and for residents to seek out the wellness opportunities they want: physical, social, and emotional.
If you’re interested in learning more about how tech solutions can boost different dimensions of wellness in your senior living community, we’re happy to help.