Is Your Retirement Home Ready for the Tech-Savvy Baby Boomer Generation?

Photo Credit:  US News HealthLine

Photo Credit: US News HealthLine

The Baby Boomer generation is, as the name implies, an expansive population segment that makes up at least 20% of America. Today in 2018, this group comprises people ranging in age from 54 to 73.

By 2029, there will be 71.4 million Americans aged 65 and older. Many of them will be looking to move into long-term care facilities or senior care residences.

Getting to know them

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Baby Boomers grew up learning to accommodate some of the greatest changes in technology. They started with gramophones and record players and today, you’ll even find them making Instagram posts on their iPhoneX.

Generally, Baby Boomers:

  • Have a preference for TV, internet, and email

  • Can tend to be idealistic

  • Are workaholics (so they’re likely to have missed out on some key family moments somewhere along the way)

  • Experienced the highest divorce rate and second marriages in history (so are likely to have gone through some difficult periods of their lives)

  • Lived through the Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam War, and the Cold War

  • Are usually the most educated in comparison to the other generations surrounding them

  • Want to hear that their ideas matter

  • Like to get involved

Despite the fact that the post-war Baby Boomer generation has had to experience some of the most rapid technological shifts of all time, they don’t seem to be intimidated by the change (contrary to popular opinion). A recent report by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) shows that many Americans aged 50 and older are actually embracing newer technology with an open mind.

“Over 90% of adults over 50 own a computer or laptop, 70% have a smartphone, and over 40% own a tablet, according to a national study of 1,520 adults conducted in November.” - AARP

It’s simple: the Boomer generation has always had to adapt, so there’s no reason they’d stop in their later years.

What does all this mean for your retirement home?

If you’re the director of a retirement home or senior residence, you need to anticipate the types of clients that will be coming your way in the next few years and prepare. What has worked for the previous generations will not engage, entertain, or satisfy the upcoming batch of seniors you will have coming in.

Recent technological advances have revolutionized all aspects of our lives, including the aging process. The advent of “smart homes” has enabled elders with physical and mental disabilities to continue living independently. Mobile medical apps allow seniors and caregivers to receive and provide help faster than ever before.

In fact, cutting edge technology has now allowed us to meld entertainment and healthcare into one.

The future of recreational therapy for seniors

Many retirement homes or long-term care facilities around the United States and the world currently offer specialized services for memory care and reminiscence therapy as part of their recreational therapy treatment regiments.

These services are often offered through traditional methods and may work well for the older generation of seniors (aptly named ‘The Traditionalists’) staying at facilities right now. However, it is unlikely these methods will retain the same level of effectiveness with the incoming Baby Boomers.

In essence, reminiscence therapy (RT) requires patients to recall past experiences by reciting their memories verbally, or on paper, encouraging them to reflect on significant life events in their past. RT provided through 3D and virtual reality (VR) experiences reduces a residence’s overhead costs by lowering the number of personnel required for therapy administration. Customized high-impact treatment plans are also developed more easily than through traditional methods.  

The versatility of these technologies also allows for the creation of an unending number of scenarios, environments, and storylines that can resonate strongly, particularly with groups. It’s arguably one of the newest and most advanced tools in a recreational therapist’s arsenal.

The effectiveness of VR-based and 3D cognitive rehabilitation has already been well established and offers a multitude of benefits to care facilities, including:

  • Reduced overhead costs

  • Personalized reminiscence therapy

  • Ease of delivery for recreational therapists and caregivers

  • Increased potential clients

Everything you need to know about major advances in 3D and VR technology, and how to improve the lives of long-term care residents and their caregivers can be downloaded for free HERE.