Connected Living, a mission-based organization helping senior citizens live richer, more connected lives through the use of technology, today announced that Brookdale Senior Living is rolling out its award winning program designed specifically for the senior living industry across multiple communities in 29 states. The Connected Living program creates an environment for seniors to enjoy greater social interaction by enabling them to connect with loved ones and open access to community, educational and healthcare resources with technology.
“When you make technology accessible and provide person-centered support, seniors start to develop digital activities of daily living. More than technology, Connected Living is about engaging an entire community and empowering residents to lead a more purposeful life,” said Sara Terry, vice president of Optimum Life, Brookdale Senior Living. “Residents who engage in Connected Living truly value the difference it makes in their lives as well as those of their family members.”
Connected Living eliminates the digital divide for senior citizens through solutions that integrate hardware, software and content with training and support to get seniors, their families, and their communities connected to each other and to their health providers. The company goes onsite; establishes a wireless network; equips a computer lounge with personal computers; populates interactive displays with content such as community calendars, menus, local news and weather, and shared videos—then teaches everyone how to use these resources.
“More and more of our daily communication continues to move online, and it’s not OK to leave an entire generation behind,” said Sarah Hoit, CEO and co-founder of Connected Living. “We are on a mission to make sure seniors have the tools and knowledge they need to live their lives and thrive in today’s world.”
Associate Professor of Psychology T.J. McCallum, Ph.D., of Case Western Reserve University, recently finished a study looking at technology and socialization among seniors. The study focused on seniors participating in the Connected Living program at Brookdale Senior Living and found that fear of technology is significantly lowered by the presence of knowledgeable and trusted human contacts – a key component of the Connected Living program. Onsite ambassadors are specially trained to work with residents and staff. Their patience, creative ideas, engaging examples, and ongoing support encourage creative and productive online activity.
“Our research found that in just three months residents who participated in the Connected Living program reported higher computer engagement as well as greater social interaction and increased self-esteem when compared to residents not involved with the program over the same time period,” said Professor McCallum, an expert in gerontechnology, the study of how older adults adapt to new technologies. “To find significant change in these areas among this population is a big deal and to see one in as little as three months is very exciting.”
“Brookdale residents, families, and associates are excited about the launch of the Connected Living program – the transformation to a ‘connected life’ is powerful,” according to Terry. Most launch events involve surprise video calls with residents’ family members projected on a big screen so the whole community can take part in the conversation. New computer learning appointments are typically booked for weeks to follow. In these newly “connected” communities, the Internet cafés have become the hub of activity and engagement.
Mary McNamara, who is nearly 90, and a Brookdale Senior Living resident said, “I always knew computers were the new technology of the world, but I never thought they were for me. Now I’m online and able to keep up with my 16 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.”
Brookdale’s partnership with Connected Living is fostered through the culture of well-being offered through Optimum Life®, which promotes the six dimensions of wellness: purposeful, emotional, physical, social, spiritual, and intellectual. It is a key part of Brookdale’s overall culture of caring, and features a holistic approach to health, life, fulfillment and aging, offering everyone the opportunity to live their best life. The intent is to change the perception and experience of aging.
Brookdale Senior Living Inc. is a leading owner and operator of senior living communities throughout the United States. The Company is committed to providing an exceptional living experience through properties that are designed, purpose-built and operated to provide the highest-quality service, care and living accommodations for residents. Currently the Company operates independent living, assisted living, and dementia-care communities and continuing care retirement centers, with 646 communities in 35 states and the ability to serve over 67,000 residents.