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The Crossroads of Senior Living and Technology

While you may not think of senior living as a tech-driven industry, it’s actually at the forefront of a number of technological innovations. These innovations touch all facets of life as well – we’re not just talking about medical technology, we’re talking about tech that provides entertainment, education, safety, convenience and even therapy.

Communities are incorporating technology more and more, and seniors are becoming increasingly engaged with technology. This is partially due to the rapid advances of technological innovation as a whole, and for the senior living industry, the recent influx of new ideas and tech adapted for older adults is mainly a result of the number of baby boomers reaching retirement age.

Baby boomers are retiring at a rate of nearly 10,000 people per day, and they are changing the landscape of the industry – demanding more choice and more freedom, and a lot of that comes from integrating new technologies. This includes areas besides technology, as well as areas where tech overlaps with other priorities, such as dining, entertainment, communication and more. In fact, recent studies by the Pew Research Center show that the majority of Americans 65 and older feel that their smartphones represent freedom and their connection to the world.

Residents in modern senior living communities can use their iPhones or iPads to stay in contact with friends and family, as well as to make their lives easier. In fact, many use applications such as Facebook, Uber and The Walgreens app. Others use their devices to stream movies and TV shows, read books, play games and shop online on their smart phones or tablets.

These devices also assist providers, as residents can use them to do things like make maintenance or housekeeping requests. Some communities empower residents by giving them opportunities to order food or schedule transportation with their device. Many communities have switched to using RFID keycards instead of traditional keys, making it easier for residents to get in and out of their rooms, as well as allowing the community to track or locate the resident if needed.

Often, a community will offer classes to teach residents how to use unfamiliar technology and applications, sometimes even partnering with local high schools or other experts to facilitate intergenerational interactions while also teaching the residents about the technology at hand.

As the evidence grows showing that music can have a profound influence on those with dementia and memory loss, iPods and other digital music players are becoming much more commonplace at senior living communities, both for therapeutic purposes as well as entertainment.

Even virtual reality is getting in on the game, with the Dallas-based company Mynd Virtual Reality designing recreational and therapeutic programming for virtual reality headsets. MyndVR draws from their world-class scientific advisory board which includes leading technologists and brain scientists to guide the creation of exclusive certified content.

The Legacy Willow Bend recently teamed up with Mynd Virtual Reality to host the company’s first field trial of its exclusive, research-based wellness and entertainment content. As many as 20 residents are participating in the virtual reality trial at all levels of care, including independent living, assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing. In this initial field trial for MyndVR, each participant uses virtual reality