Tech-Savvy Residents Not Settling for Computer Labs in Senior Living

Written by Cassandra Dowell

Senior living providers are finding that no longer does a computer lab satisfy the requirements of tech-savvy residents. 

Increasingly, the onset of tech use among residents in their 70s, 80s and 90s is pushing communities well beyond simply providing devices and an internet connection they can access in common areas. That means wifi throughout the community or campus and creating Internet cafe-like areas that also serve as social settings.

Computer labs and business centers in senior housing communities are less important to senior living prospects today than they were two years ago, says Patti Aspenleiter, president of senior marketing agency Zillner, adding that the finding can be attributed to the increase in tablet and e-reader ownership in the last four years.

As seniors become accustomed to the latest technology in their homes, they expect the same when opting for their next place to live.

“Seniors have choices,” Aspenleiter says. “Seventy-one percent of seniors go online every day. It’s almost as common as using a meal plan. The main competitor of senior living communities is the home. If they can use that e-reader and iPad anywhere in their house and now they can only use that tablet in a computer room — that is a significant disadvantage.”

In fact, overall tablet ownership among seniors has risen from 2% in 2010 to 25% this year, research shows.

And more seniors are accessing the Internet from their cell phone, supporting the need for campus-wide wifi.

In the last five years, the number of seniors going online from their phone has quadrupled from 7% in 2009 to 29% today.

The growing number of seniors using mobile devices and going online antiquates the idea of a “computer room,” Aspenleiter says, adding that providers who wish to attract future residents — many of whom will be baby boomers and even more tech-savvy than the current senior population — would be wise to adopt campus-wide wifi to support such products.

Wifi Is a Must

For providers like San Antonio,Texas-based Morningside Ministries, offering wifi was important to resident satisfaction.

“Five or four years ago a resident asked for wifi,” says Leo Cutcliff, executive vice president for Morningside Ministries. All three of the provider’s San Antonio-area senior housing campuses are continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs). While the CCRCs provided some type of Internet, Morningside began to roll out wifi to all of its campuses and continues to add wifi to its buildings undergoing redevelopment and its cottage properties.

Cutcliff sees seniors’ growing use of mobile devices firsthand — some residents lead and attend iPad training classes every Saturday.

“It’s interesting to hear a 92-year-old tell residents how her Kindle was synchronized to her iPad,” he says, adding that using the mobile devices creates increased dialogue among residents and between residents and their families.

“I recall 10 years ago we would get numerous cold calls about video teleconferencing with families,” he says. “We would have to get cameras and residents would have to schedule a time. Now with [Apple’s mobile video conference platform] FaceTime, they can talk to each other from anywhere at any time.”

Texas-based Buckner Retirement Services, Inc. began rolling out wifi at its campuses in 2006. And while the communities still have designated areas where residents can use computers, many residents have laptops or other mobile devices of their own. Buckner operates five CCRCs and two independent living communities in Texas.

“Our residents use technology to check bank accounts, investments, retirement accounts, order products, print maps for travel,” says Kenneth Harpster, chaplain and go-to technology support person. “Some use it to access books for their e-readers; others use social media such as Facebook. Almost all who use the technology use it to stay in touch with family through email.”

Internet Cafe Design Supports Learning

And while offering wifi is a start, offering additional programming and spaces to educate residents on how to get the most out of their mobile devices via Internet is key, says Ginna Baik, national director of innovation and resident technology with the life enrichment team at Emeritus.

“If you can provide a space for training then you can get residents to fully experience the benefit of their smartphone, or iPad,” Baik says. “Some are intimidated by technology, but when you bridge that connection that level of empowerment and how it changes their self image is priceless.”

At Emeritus, whose $2.8 billion merger with Brookdale Senior Living will form the largest senior living provider in the nation, a new pilot program including some of its Illinois, Indiana and Missouri transforms common areas into Internet cafes.

Residents can also borrow mobile tablets for use, Baik says, adding that after using a tablet many decided to purchase their own. The pilot was rolled out September last year.

“In the Internet cafe we’re not just focused on the technology, but the seating and look and feel,” she says, adding that large-screen computers are also available for those who have trouble seeing the smaller, tablet screen. “It’s not a sterile, business environment with computers along a wall. It’s no longer grandma’s nursing home.”

While all those communities are wireless, so that seniors can get online where and when they want to, the Internet cafe spaces encourage conversation among residents and serve as an education space. And, more communities throughout the Emeritus network are slated to become wireless if they’re not already.

“With the merger things will change, but Brookdale has the same mindset [about providing the latest technology],” she says. “It’s important to both Emeritus and Brookdale.”



Aging in Place is the Best Long Term Care Strategy

by Louis on July 2, 2014

Not the only.        Not for everyone.       Just the best.

We have been promoting Aging in Place as a thing unto itself, when it is really the most scalable, desirable and economical Long Term Care (LTC) strategy. We have also been looking for a better way to say it then “aging in place”. I propose Long Term Care at Home. 

News accounts lament the lack of planning and saving among adults. No one plans to move into assisted living or a nursing home. Those are the only LTC strategies most people know about.*  Financial planners and long term care sales people don’t even talk about where you are going to live. I don’t know if it is because they don’t know, don’t care or do know that talking about assisted living and nursing homes takes the discussion where no one wants to go, ruining the sale. Smart people don’t buy something they don’t want, so what may look like burying heads in the sand is really a wise consumer decision. “I don’t see anything I want. I am not going to buy.”

One benefit of planning is increasing the odds of things going well. The flip side is reducing odds of things going poorly.   You plan a vacation or a party so it is pleasant and limit the chance things will go astray. Retirement/ Financial/ Long Term Care Planning should be the same. Not just the money to travel but real strategies to avoid nursing homes. Health has a role. So does your home.

Updating your home make it more pleasant, a better match for your current taste and activities.

Long Term care at Home means the ability to get the care you need in the residence you choose. You own the venue. You control what happens there.  The folks who own assisted living make the rules. Plan to live at your house. You make the rules. You maintain control.

A well prepared home helps avoid injury, one reason people are forced to move to traditional LTC.

A well prepared home is the most pleasant and most economical place to recover from accident or illness.

A well prepared home makes it easier for family and informal support-  the most important source of care – to contribute.

Long Term Care at Home allows paid care to be used selectively. Various services can be ramped up or withdrawn to match changing needs, rather than ‘in the package’ of assisted living or nursing homes. Custom, ‘Just in Time’, more economical use of resources

An energy efficient home shields fixed income homeowners from rising energy costs.

Long Term care at Home requires being aware and making plans. That is not a hard sell if it is presented in the right context…Long Term Care at Home is a desirable long term care strategy. All  retirement, financial and long term care planning should include the at Home living strategy. Long Term Care at Home is something to look forward to. Let the planning begin!

* or can afford…some find Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC) desirable but they are very expensive.


An interesting perspective – Stories from behind the examining room door, as told by Rod Moser, PA, a primary care physician assistant with more than 35 years of clinical experience.







Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Lessons in Getting Older
By Rod Moser, PA, PhD

I just had my 62nd birthday. With people living well into their 90’s or longer anymore, being 62 is not considered “old” (except of  course, from a teenager’s perspective), but still, I’ve found that I’ve become more sensitive to age-related issues. But recently, I spoke to a group that made me feel like a child again.

I gave a talk this week on medical quackery at a large nursing home / assisted-care facility in my town. About 20 ultra-seniors started filing in to the lecture area. I am guessing that the average age exceeded 80. They were at least twenty years older than me. They were mobile; most using some high-tech walkers. Over half of the people had hearing issues, so I was asked to speak loudly and clearly. I insisted that the audience move to the front. One fellow in the back was already sleeping and I hadn’t even started yet. The others were making a serious dent in the tray of homemade chocolate chip cookies that were provided.

The collaborative brains in that room impressed me. Their bodies may have been slow, but their minds were sharp as tacks. I witnessed many of them recalling childhood memories of diseases we now prevent with immunizations – memories of being quarantined with measles or scarlet fever. One person was a polio survivor and talked about being in an iron lung in a room with dozens of other polio victims. Most of the people in this room were just children when the first antibiotics were used. Medical advances that we take for granted – MRI machines, potent antibiotics, heart/liver transplants, artificial joints, high-tech hearing aids, and cancer treatments – were not even imagined when they were younger.

Quackery – medical fraud – was supposed to be my topic for the day, but when I solicited questions from the floor, they wanted to talk about arthritis, hip / knee replacements, and how to deal with their vast array of prescribed medications. Several of the people in the group were using an assortment of “natural” medications that they saw advertised in magazines or on television. We talked about placebos and modern Snake Oil salesmen. We talked about the time when doctors made house calls and medical care was affordable.

When someone talks about the wisdom of the elderly, I experienced it here. I could have talked with them all day. I came as the lecturer, but I was really the audience.

I was truly enriched by this experience and promised to come back again. For the first time in a long while, I was made to feel younger and more optimistic. They have definitely coped well with getting older, and I can do it, too.


Adult Day Care for Seniors

Written by Chris Hawkins
SeniorLiving.Org Expert on Senior Care & Assisted Living

Adult day care centers have filled a crucial gap in the senior living care market, allowing seniors to delay the need for an assisted living facility or nursing home. Adult day care facilities provide socialization and care services to seniors while also providing a needed break for their caregivers. We’ll show you what you can expect from these specialized senior care centers.

Why Adult Day Care?

Many seniors are in a situation where their needs aren’t being met at home. These needs can be as simple as wanting regular socialization with their peers to a more crucial need such as needing help managing a chronic disease such as diabetes. If they are receiving some assistance at home from a caregiver (friend, family member), these caregivers often are trained to handle a senior’s increasing needs nor do they have the time.

While these needs can certainly be filled with institutionalized care such as assisted living and nursing homes, these types of senior care options aren’t always possible for a variety of reasons, mostly financial.

Adult day care fills these needs for over 260,000 seniors and their caregivers. They provide a number of important day-to-day services and activities designed to maintain health, enhance self-esteem and to increase overall quality of life.

Types of Adult Day Care

As you search adult day care centers in your area, you’ll likely find three types of facilities:


Social adult day care centers provide recreation, meals and some level of health services. Medical facilities are staffed by nurses and social workers and typically provide medication management, health monitoring, disease management, physical therapy and podiatry services. Specialized adult day care facilities focus on specific care such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Some adult day care facilities offer a combination of social and medical programs.

Services Provided

The services provided by adult day care centers vary from facility to facility and by facility type. Here are the types of services you’ll find most often:

     Health screening
     Memory and cognition therapy
     Medical care
     Physical therapy
     Nutritious meals
     Respite care
     Volunteer and community service programs
     Therapeutic activities
     Family support groups for caregivers
     Medication management
     Door-to-door transportation

Who Offers Adult Day Care?

According to the National Adult Day Services Association (NADSA), over 5,000 adult day care centers dot the U.S., an increase of 35% since 2002.

A MetLife Market Survey of Long-Term Care Costs says that about 70% are freestanding facilities; 11% are connected to nursing homes; 8% are connected to assisted living facilities; 2% are connected to a hospital.

Some assisted living facilities and nursing homes offer adult day care to not only their residents, but to members of the community. About 75% of adult day care facilities are operated as non-profits while the rest are for-profit.

The majority of facilities are open Monday thru Friday with a small percentage open on weekends.

Regulation of adult day care varies from state to state with some states having no regulation in place. To find out more about a particular facility in your area, contact your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) or your state’s Department of Aging.

When Does One Need Adult Day Care?

As stated above, these facilities have filled a crucial gap in senior care. Not every senior can afford the cost of assisted living. And not every senior needs the level of care provided by assisted living facilities. Here are some common reasons seniors and their caregivers choose adult day care.

     When a senior desires or needs socialization because of isolation
     When a senior desires or needs recreation with their peers
     When a senior desires or needs regular exercise
     If a senior is in the early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s
     If a senior needs help with chronic disease management and health maintenance 
     When a senior’s caregiver needs a break

Costs and Paying for Adult Day Care

Adult day care costs vary greatly from state to state and from region to region. As can be expected, rates are generally higher in the Northeast and lower in the South. According the 2012 MetLife Market Survey of Long-Term Care Costs, the average daily rate for adult day care was $70. The highest average state rate was Vermont at $141 a day while the lowest average rate of $39 a day was found in Alabama.

Many facilities offer drop-in rates for those seniors who need a day or two of care. Seniors are typically charged by the hour in these situations.

Many seniors who use adult day care end up paying for it out-of-pocket. Adult day care is not typically covered by Medicare and Medicaid. However, if you have the Medicare Advantage Plan, you may be covered under Part C of that plan. Also, the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE)—a part of Medicare/Medicaid—provides financial support for qualified seniors in a limited number of states.

The Veterans Administration also provides support for veterans under their Adult Day Health Care program.

Other ways to pay include long-term care insurance, cashing in on life insurance policies, finding support from your local church.

Contact your local Area Agency on Aging and your state’s Aging Department and ask if there are state-specific programs that provide assistance.

Final Thoughts

Adult day care centers have filled an important void for thousands of seniors and their caregivers who simply can’t afford or are not ready for traditional senior care options such as nursing homes and assisted living.


Valuable Service for Seniors





 Here is a recent and welcome addition to the local nonprofit community.  S.O.S. or Senior Outreach Services provides affordable professional home repair services and support allowing seniors to remain in their homes.  They are available to anyone over sixty who is either physically or financially unable to do the work.






This Is a Job for ‘Senior Move’ Managers

Published: October 24, 2006

WHEN Sally and Harold Lion decided to sell their home of 43 years in Springfield, Va., and move to a retirement complex a few miles away, Mrs. Lion thought she had worked out an orderly transition process.The couple picked out the furnishings and belongings they wanted and sent them to their new apartment. Then Mrs. Lion, 78, planned to sort through the remaining contents in the house to decide what could go to charity and what could go elsewhere. But after spending several weeks trying to make a dent in the clutter, she felt stymied about what to do.“You can spend hours going through one little box,” she said.

Finally she turned to Busy Buddies, the same local company that had helped her choose what to take to her new home. The company is one of an increasing number of “senior move management” businesses offering services to retirees who are moving and must sift through the detritus of a lifetime.

Busy Buddies helped Mrs. Lion go through her leftover possessions, supervised the sale of some items, rented a paper shredder and packed 45 boxes for charities to haul away. They also offered advice.

“They said, ‘Tell your children they have until this date to come and get the things they want,’ ” Mrs. Lion said. Above all, they left her with an empty house.

As the comedian George Carlin once said, “A house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it.” When people downsize, selling a house is usually not as difficult as dealing with its contents.

The sheer amount and sentimental meaning of “stuff” stashed in attics and basements often confound older people or children whose elderly parents die or fall seriously ill. Picking through possessions, dividing them fairly and discerning what has monetary value and what does not can be a mammoth job, especially if it’s done under duress or during a time of grieving.

Busy Buddies is one of 120 companies that belong to the National Association of Senior Move Managers, a group that requires members to follow a code of ethics; businesses must carry insurance and provide references.

Typically, these companies use a floor plan of the new home to help older clients make room-by-room decisions about what to move. They then help clients sort through their other belongings and recommend estate-sale specialists, appraisers and auction houses as well as charities that will accept donations. Many companies offer packing and unpacking services. They also assess what is trash and how best to get rid of it.

People who use such services can spend $1,500 to $5,000, depending on the selections and nature of the move.

Ron Butler, a real estate agent in Virginia Beach, tells clients that it is generally worthwhile to hire professionals for the downsizing process. He still regrets the hasty decisions he made when he cleaned out his parents’ home after they died.

“They were people who lived through the Depression, and they saved everything — broken transistor radios — in case they ever needed a part,” Mr. Butler said. At the time, he felt inundated and threw or gave away things he could have sold.

Nancy Loyd and Mary Ann Brewer, the founders of Busy Buddies, said about three-quarters of their clients were elderly people, but they were getting more and more calls from empty-nest couples in their 50’s who are moving from suburban homes to smaller city apartments.

Many older customers are caught in a vortex of emotion and confusion about where to start and what to keep. “What we hear a lot is, ‘My kids work full time, they’re really busy and they don’t want anything,’ ” said Margit Novack, who in 1996 founded Moving Solutions, a company in Havertown, Pa., that specializes in moving retirement-age people and has franchises in the mid-Atlantic region.

Experts say the best approach is to plan ahead. Of course that is easier said than done, as contemplating the breakup of a household can cause conflict within the family and bring up thoughts of mortality.

The University of Minnesota Extension Service, a statewide community education system, developed a program called Who Gets Grandma’s Yellow Pie Plate? The program helps guide families through the process in a structured way. Its Web site,, offers free materials (like articles and tip sheets) and also sells workbooks and videos.

Extension instructors urge older people to gather relatives or talk with them separately to determine what belongings have meaning to them. Jewelry, art or antique furniture can be earmarked or itemized in a will, but knickknacks might have emotional value.

Program worksheets ask what things family members would like to receive and how they would feel if they did not get a particular item. The questions are loaded but useful in averting future problems, said Mary Anderson, an Extension educator. “There are families not talking to each other because of a $2 Christmas ornament,” she said.

Families also are encouraged to discuss the history of items before the stories die with their owners.

Sunny Schlenger, an organizing consultant and the author of “Organizing for the Spirit: Making the Details of Your Life Meaningful and Manageable,” considers that history essential. To illustrate the point, she opens workshops by showing a photo of one of her ancestors. She asks people if they know who it is. As they shake their heads no, she says, “Neither do I.”

Ms. Schlenger, who lives in New Jersey and Arizona, began her career organizing closets and has worked with large and small businesses. In an essay on her Web site,, she describes the looming predicament for aging baby boomers who “now live in their house happily surrounded by their own Stuff, their parents’ Stuff, and their kids’ Stuff.”

She suggested weeding through things at least every five years. “Think, who am I today? What do I really need? Do I really want to be the custodian of all these things? Who else would want them?” Ms. Schlenger said. “Start the conversations early with your siblings and your kids.