We got an interesting call last week. The resident of a senior living community in California found us on the Internet and wanted to know more about CATIE. He’s talking to his community’s management team about technology and what their plans are. At 90, this gentleman is obviously somewhat tech savvy because he’s out there surfing the Web. But he said he understands that not all of his fellow seniors have computers, nor do they all want one, so he appreciates what we’re trying to do for seniors through CATIE: bridge the digital divide so those without computers can still connect to all of the valuable information out there – not to mention their families and friends.
It’s difficult to imagine anyone not receiving e-mail, but only 53 percent of seniors 65 and older currently use the Internet. And research shows that as we age, isolation, physical and otherwise, contributes to illness and early death. That’s why communication and access to information for seniors is so important. With the over-60 population expected to grow to 55 million in 2020, CATIE has the potential to enhance the daily lives of this demographic and take the continuing care industry to a new level by delivering amenities to their residents to prevent isolation and provide stimulation and brain fitness.
CATIE trumps lonely, isolated, and uninformed – adding the convenience of knowing what’s being served for dinner or whom to wish “Happy Birthday.” CATIE’s Message Center includes email with voice-reply. A resident simply presses new or reply on the touch screen to record a message that goes to the recipient as an attachment. A 94-year-old resident of one of our customer’s communities in Florida used her CATIE in-room kiosk to send us such a message after we installed her system about a month ago. She’s been emailing with her children and grandchildren too – her first experiences with any sort of communication technology.
Regardless of age, our need for relationships, recreation and personal growth is part of who we are. The next wave of seniors, the Boomers, are feeling younger, living longer and still want meaningful activities and experiences. If owner-operators want to meet the demands of this next back-to-the-dorm crowd and compete for their considerable buying power, they’ll need to invest not just in technologies for life safety but also for life quality.
If your residents aren’t asking you about your plans to equip the community with the latest technology for their convenience and comfort, they will – just like the gentleman I mentioned above. Will you brush them off because you don’t think they’ll use it, or that you won’t see a return on the investment? What’s the ROI on your HCAV system? You don’t know; you just know you need it. As you try to attract new residents, they’re going to expect the best in terms of accommodations and experiences and will go where they can get them. So maybe you should think about your technology strategy after all.