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Senior Living Communities Focus on Expanding Digital Services

April 1, 2021

COVID-19 restrictions last year led to many seniors feeling cut off and unconnected as they sheltered in. Now, many senior living condo and apartment operators are using digital services to help keep their residents more connected. These digital tools and services aim to fight social isolation using a wide range of gadgets and techniques, such as video chat apps, virtual assistants, livestreamed fitness classes, and virtual reality day trips.

Acts Retirement-Life Communities Inc., which runs two dozen senior living facilities across nine states, is keeping its residents connected using technology, according to Peter Kress, the senior vice president and chief information officer. Many of its residents over the past year have embraced using videoconferencing platforms to participate in virtual book clubs, Bible studies, and livestreamed events hosted by the facilities Kress told The Wall Street Journal. They’re also using apps to order meals from on-site restaurants.

Some communities have also rolled out robot assistants, which can act as mobile devices for visual and audio communications and deliver meals to residents’ rooms. Eventually, Kress told The Journal, these robots will also help with cleaning and maintenance duties, such as vacuuming floors and painting vacant rooms.

Acts Retirement-Life Communities also announced it was teaming up with K4Connect, a startup providing technology to senior communities, for health and safety check-ins with motion detection sensors. It also hopes to soon offer voice-activated controls in rooms and apartments, such as for lights, thermostats, and televisions.

Some senior facilities are also exploring virtual reality tech for residents, including the use of headsets for fully immersive virtual experiences to explore other locations for virtual day outings.

Technology Keeps Senior Center Residents Connected During the Pandemic,” The Wall Street Journal (March 29, 2021) [Log-in required.]