Older adults are embracing technology as a means of staying connected and engaged

A Growing Number of Providers Are Offering Content as a Service

Technology use among older adults has grown significantly over the past two years. Pew Research published in 2019 on U.S. technology use by generation found that technology adoption rates among Boomers has increased significantly in less than a decade, with 68% of Boomers owning a smartphone in 2019 compared with just 25% in 2011.

If there were any lingering stereotypes of technology-averse older adults, the Coronavirus pandemic has laid waste to them. According to AARP Research’s 2021 Tech Trends and the 50+, 44% of older adults view technology more positively now as a means of staying connected than they did before the pandemic. More than 80% of those over 50 use technology daily to stay in touch with loved ones. These trends extend from Baby Boomers through the Silent Generation; 69% of those over 70 reported using their tablets daily.

“I think the pandemic has seen a rapid and significant adoption of needed technology by many older adults, and the communities that provide them services,” said Colin Milner, founder and CEO of the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA). “Why? No other choice. If you want to connect with your family, friends, doctor, or local provider of services, you will have to had made a change or somebody did it for you.”

In October, the organization published the Lifestyle Survey of Older Adults. According to its findings, 55% of all respondents will use videoconferencing to speak with friends or family members while 38% use telemedicine to connect with doctors or healthcare providers and 32% get online to play games and attend presentations. Milner said operators must ask themselves “how will this shift impact the way I deliver my services now and in the future.”

Incorporating Partner Expertise

Civitas Senior Living hosted its first webinar on its Facebook page in October. The virtual presentation kick-offed a series that will continue through 2022. A response to older adults’ interest in telemedicine and online presentations, this inaugural webinar was presented by a senior clinical liaison from Civitas’ partner the Baylor institute for Rehabilitation in Waco, Texas and the topic was physical therapy.

Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing Erica Siebert explained that “Civitas Senior Living is passionate about providing education regarding senior living in all arenas. Our residents are always top-of-mind, however, another focus we keep in mind is providing educational content to others who may not be a part of the Civitas family, but who could benefit from the discussions and topics we present.”

The free presentation is a part of Civitas’ Speaker Series where physicians, therapists, and more healthcare professionals regularly provide relevant and important information for older adults and their families on the second Tuesday of each month.

The Arbor Company reintroduced Senior Living Live! this year

The Arbor Company’s series of webinars have similarly been focused on issues of importance to older adults and their families, ranging “Thriving with Dementia” to “Let’s Talk About Salt.” But earlier this year, the free “Senior Living Live!” series was relaunched to include weekly episodes, a month deep-dive into a specific topic and a podcast format. The webinars can also be found as on-demand content on YouTube.com as well as in blog post form on The Arbor Company website, signaling that any initial concerns about older adults turning away from the technological nature of the presentations were simply misgivings.

Much as Civitas’ webinars can also appeal to anyone who wants to learn more about senior living, The Arbor Company’s Vice President Communications Chris Harper also noted that the target audience is residents of the Arbor Company communities and their families, but “topics are relevant to anyone interested in senior living.”

The live webinars are interactive, The Arbor Company staff members as well as guest hosts such as orthopedic surgeons and financial advisers take questions from viewers. In addition, Senior Living Live! also tackles issues head one; one episode released in September looks at The Arbor Company’s response to the labor shortage.

Modern Viewing Options

Loudon-Tenn.-based Tellico Village has been ahead of the curve, to a certain extent. This senior living community in the Smoky Mountains has had its own broadcast station for about 30 years, officially rebranding it Tellico Village Network or TVN this past September.

Originally, the public broadcast station was the result of a franchise deal with cable company Charter Spectrum. Today, TVN continues to be available through TVN. But in keeping with the times, viewers –both current and prospective Tellico Village property owners—can also watch TVN on demand on Vimeo, YouTube.com, the TVN Roku app and the TVN Apple TV app.

“Choose the option that’s easiest for you, whether it’s a computer, a tablet, a television or a smartphone,” said Beth Kuberka, marketing communications director. “Viewers now have options and no one is excluded.”

 

Viewers can watch livestreams of Tellico Village Board and Committee meetings monthly as well as on-demand fitness classes, Tellico Village Golf Talks and even profiles of local artisans among other educational content. Keeping residents, locals and any other viewers abreast of Tellico Village happenings is also cost effective. With a modest annual budget to maintain TVN’s studio and equipment, the broadcaster is run by a part-time station manager and 15 volunteers.

Educating a Global Audience 

The Lantern, based in South Russell, Ohio, operates just three communities throughout the state. But in 2020, the group launched Lantern TV. The web-based content, designed for senior, their families and caregivers, quickly began attracting a global audience, with viewers from Canada, Mexico and Europe. In late 2020, Lantern CEO Mr. Jean Makesh realized the growing international audience was interested in a greater understanding independent living, assisted living, hospice care and healthcare topics like dementia. So he migrated Lantern TV to Okrah.com where the free on-demand video series on these topics and others have also been converted into podcasts.

Now the website and its social media channels, including Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube.com and Facebook, have organically attracted followers from the Philippines, Argentina, Brazil, Dubai and India in addition to North America and Europe. Makesh is now in the process of dubbing the content into five languages.

“If we continue to provide consumers with meaningful, relevant and purposeful information regarding aging, consumers will become willing partners with providers and once they do, lawsuits and misunderstanding will decrease,” Makesh said.

Okrah currently produces its own content, but also welcomes relevant content from providers who also want to help educate the public on aging services and senior living.

 

Credit
Kerry Medina Kerry Medina
Senior Editor
Kerry Medina is Senior Editor of Senior Living News, parent company of Senior Community Forum. With a journalism degree from NYU, she has more than 20 years of experience as a journalist and content marketing professional, continuously focusing on B2B marketing and communications. In her current role, Kerry covers the senior living sector for SeniorLivingNews.com and SeniorCommunityForum.com and also moderates executive-led panel discussions at industry leading events.