Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Great Amenities, Wonderful Activities, But...

"Senior housing is 10% sticks and bricks and 90% programming and people," says Paul Mullin, Senior Vice President of Development at Silverado senior living communities. Silverado hosts events, offers a wide array of programming and creates fun spaces to help maintain residents' vibrancy. They've seen strong interest in additions like libraries, brain game centers and purposeful programming. Indeed, they identify the importance of enriching the quality of life for clients, residents, patients, families and associates as their top priority. Mullin says that with the growing wellness culture overflowing into senior housing, residents now expect to have more options to engage their physical, emotional, spiritual and social well-being along with more traditional assisted living and health care options.
Seniors visiting a library

A Place for Mom cautions, however, that while lavish features and a robust calendar of activities may sound attractive, many people later realize that fancy furniture, beautiful landscaping and a busy schedule are not necessarily sound indicators of quality senior care. A beautiful, modern and upscale facility is just as prone to oversights and errors as a community that looks a little dated.

A prime example of that is the example of a facility we recently visited that has a beautiful campus, cozy apartments and town homes, several dining options, and a full schedule of interesting activities. Unfortunately, this otherwise excellent community suffers from an unwieldy communications system. Residents are inundated by dozens of event flyers each week. Registering for an event that looks interesting requires a phone call or a walk to the office. There was no system to remind residents of upcoming events they had signed up for, resulting in many no shows and missed events. Many of the residents we spoke to had given up in frustration and now just threw out the stacks of papers as they came in without even looking at them. Even when they did see an event they thought was interesting, all too often the piece of paper got misplaced, or they didn't make it into the office to register in time. For obvious reasons, many of the residents we spoke with were extremely dissatisfied with the system. They felt that it hampered their ability to engage in the activities offered by the facility and made it harder to get to now other residents as a result.

It's not uncommon for senior living communities to invest millions of dollars in keeping their facilities modern and up-to-date, or to create an exciting array of activities for their residents, but missing the boat on small but vital details like the facility above compromises the quality of care and the level of engagement that residents actually experience.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Communication is Seen as Key to Quality of Life

Photographer: Bill Branson
Quality of life is affected by many factors. For older Americans, declining capacity, health issues, and isolation can significantly deteriorate quality of life. According to Dr. Richard Besdine, Professor of Medicine, Director of the Center for Gerontology and Healthcare Research, Director of the Division of Geriatrics in the Department of Medicine at Brown University and former President of the American Geriatrics Society, the matrix of factors that impact our quality of life as we age include physical and mental health, interpersonal relationships, functional status, social life and participation in activities, and financial health. Key factors to a good quality of life according to Dr. Besdine include:
  • Absence of distressing physical symptoms (eg, pain, dyspnea, nausea, constipation)
  • Emotional well-being (eg, happiness, absence of anxiety)
  • Functional status (eg, capacity to do activities of daily living and higher-order functions, such as pleasurable activities)
  • Quality of close interpersonal relationships (eg, with family members)
  • Participation in and enjoyment of social activities
  • Satisfaction with medical and financial aspects of treatments
  • Financial health
  • Sexuality, body image, and intimacy

In 2013, the Pew Trust conducted a large scale study to determine what people of different ages saw as the most important of these functions and capabilities in maintaining a good quality of life as
we age. One might suspect that physical health and concerns over dementia topped the chart, but suprisingly the ability to communicate with others was ranked the most important factor to maintaining a good quality of life across all generations, more so even than long and short term memory, being able to dress and feed oneself, living without severe or long-term pain, or feeling that one is doing something worthwhile with one's life. Fully, 93-95% of respondents, regardless of age, ranked communication as extremely or very important

Retirement communities who want to remain competitive need to provide easy access to social life and communication tools for their residents. Increasingly, older adults are retiring from jobs that required the use of email, websites, social media, and other digital communications tools, and who are comfortable using these tools in their personal life. While older adults may not like change in their favorite programs and platforms, they are increasingly tech saavy and expect digital tools to be part and parcel of their life. Indeed, among adults who use social media, seniors spend the most time online of all age groups. Retirement communities can no longer rely on paper or phone to communicate with their residents, and many prospective residents will be looking for digital tools to easily keep in touch with neighbors, community activities, dining halls, and maintenance and other staff.



Friday, May 20, 2016

The Dangers of the Digital Divide

The longer you wait, the more marginalized you’re going to become." So says Deloitte co-founder John Hagel, III talking about how important it is for companies to implement digital solutions for their customers needs immediately. Deloitte recently conducted its third study on consumer expectations and found, "This year, and over two million data points later, the continuing growth of digital influence is resulting in a widening divide between consumers’ digital expectations and retailers’ ability to deliver on them."

In an interview with professor Gerald Kane of Boston College's Carroll School of Management, published in the MIT Sloan Management Review, Hagel said that while consumers are increasingly demanding sophisticated digital solutions for information gathering, communication, and shopping needs, companies tend to look at digital technology as a choice or a potential opportunity, rather than a necessity. That mindset will result in decreased market share, potentially threatening the viability of companies who resist digital solutions, according to Hagel.

This issue is particularly acute for older consumers. Adults 50 years old and above represent the Web's largest constituency, comprising one-third of the total 195.3 million Internet users in the U.S. According to the Pew Trust over 90% of college educated and seniors whose incomes are over 75,000 going online regularly, with an average of 19 hours a week Among older adults who use the internet, 71% go online every day or almost every day, and an additional 11% go online three to five times per week."

Seniors who go online have very positive attitudes about the Internet and its benefits in their daily life. The Pew Trust says they are "fervent users of the Internet who love email and often use the Web to gather important information such as material to help them manage their health." They further report that, "Fully 79% of older adults who use the internet agree with the statement that 'people without internet access are at a real disadvantage because of all the information they might be missing,' while 94% agree with the statement that “the internet makes it much easier to find information today than in the past.”

For retirement communities, digital solutions for their residents is increasingly necessary, with impacts on marketability, acquisition and retention of residents, and resident satisfaction and quality of life.





Wednesday, May 18, 2016

AARP on Senior Living

The AARP has a great article on their blog about Senior Living. One of the key points they make is that not only are we living longer, we are living better! There are over 106 million people over the age of 50 in America. People who are engaged, active and "comprise a new 'longevity economy,' which is larger than the economy of any country except China and the United States."

They also write, "Innovation is driving the new reality of aging, and technology is the driver of innovation. We have come to expect technology to help us live longer and better. We demand products and services that meet our every need. We're planning for the future: where we'll live, how we'll get around, how we'll stay connected, how we'll get health care and long-term care and how we'll make our money last. We're thinking about how to live a longer life in the best way possible, and we are drawn to innovations that help people of all ages live longer lives and improve the quality of life for everyone."

This is what Community Crier Social Software is all about!  If you work or live at a retirement community, or if you have a loved one who does, our product can help make life richer, fuller and more rewarding for residents, while lowering costs and helping staff be more effective and efficient, and helping families stay connected.  For more info, call Doug at (513) 349-9932 or email dschmidt@crieronline.com

Full AARP article here: http://www.aarp.org/politics-society/advocacy/info-2016/older-americans-month-new-realities-jenkins.html

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Montessori for Seniors

Senior Living Executive Magazine reports that Montessori methods can improve quality of life for seniors with memory impairment. A recent study by Taiwan’s National Yang-Ming University studied the use of Montessori principles and activities to help seniors with memory issues. "Sixty-three seniors with dementia who experienced 24 sessions combining spaced retrieval and Montessori-based therapy displayed improved eating habits, a higher body mass index, and less depression than 27 seniors who received routine memory care." 

Maria Montessori
Montessori core principles include respect for self and others, self-directed learning, learning through cooperation and collaboration among peers, and learning as a multi-sense process where touching, manipulating, smelling, hearing, seeing, and tasting are all important parts of the learning process. Its educational program is designed around the belief that the physical, emotional, social, aesthetic, spiritual, and cognitive needs and interests are inseparable and equally important. 

Janina Bogner, MS (http://www.sahp.vcu.edu/departments/vcoa/) says, "The philosophy of the Montessori method is to create persons who are as independent as possible, able to make choices, while being treated with respect and dignity. It assumes that persons want to be independent, show the abilities they have, and learn new ones; so it offers meaningful activities in environments designed to accommodate their needs. The method works with adults who have mental and physical impairments and builds upon the older adult's remaining abilities."