WiFi Expected: Why Senior Living Residents Want More
It’s not just for teenagers anymore. Recent data on social media usage from Pew Research shows that the percentage of seniors 65 years and older using social media networks has risen sharply over the past five years, with 46% using one or more social media network. And senior Internet usage on the whole continues to rise, with six out of every 10 seniors using the Internet, a number that promises to steadily increase as the Baby Boomer generation ages and brings their favorite technology with them.
Seniors today count on the Internet, and specifically social media, as an easy way to keep in touch with old friends, see pictures of children and grandchildren, learn more about and get involved in causes, and communicate directly with family members that live far away. The Internet is also the fastest way to access a wide range of resources – from medical topics to do-it-yourself tutorials to basic contact information for businesses – that make life easier. The Internet continues to be an important way to maintain connection with the “outside world,” and living in a senior community shouldn’t mean you have to lose that connection.
Senior Communities Are Listening
Happily, many senior communities are beginning to recognize that Internet availability – and even WiFi wireless connection options across their campuses – can be an important service and differentiator to offer their clients. A recent report by Ziegler CFO Hotline Technology showed that nearly 74% of the chief financial officers surveyed reported that their senior living organizations have invested in Internet connectivity in the past 12 months, doubling the percentage from 2012.
Senior living companies are realizing that keeping up with the demand for easy Internet access is imperative to keeping their housing options attractive to new residents, and to making their existing residents happier than ever. Not surprisingly, specialized Internet providers have begun to pop up, focusing specifically on providing Internet service to senior communities and sharing numerous articles and stats to encourage senior living residencies to invest and get ahead of the senior connectivity trend.
Raising the Bar: WiFi Expected
In the past, shared computer labs or business centers have been sufficient to meet the needs of the senior population. However, today there is a growing demand for WiFi connectivity throughout a senior care campus, as new residents bring their existing technology from their previous homes, including smart phones, tablets, and personal computers. Surveys of the baby boomer generation predict that this trend will continue to increase, as many seniors plan to bring their own computer(s) to their retirement communities, and expect to be able to access the Internet as easily as they did at home.
Another popular option is casual Internet café settings that provide WiFi connectivity, along with a new type of social setting for residents. Tech savvy residents can use these Internet cafes as a place to meet and mingle with like-minded seniors who are used to traversing the Internet on a daily basis. For residents still getting up to speed on Internet usage, these cafes, along with the traditional computer rooms, can also be an excellent setting for ongoing technology training sessions on technology topics provided by many senior living residencies, ranging from the basics of connecting to the Internet, to the more advanced topics like social media usage and online shopping.
The trend of today’s seniors today staying more connected promises to help ease the transition into senior living environments, with easy Internet connectivity not only making communication with family and friends easier, but maintaining the amenities of home. And the more the demand grows, the more this connectivity changes from an exception to an expectation.