Technology’s presence in senior living has been front and center during the coronavirus pandemic, with uses including telehealth for resident and staff medical appointments and communication between residents and their loved ones becoming much more common.
Another increasing use for residents, brought on by safety and infection control protocols, according to a recent AP article, is online shopping. The article includes the story of an 86-year-old Atria Senior Living resident who bought a toy for her great-granddaughter by shopping on Amazon. Another senior living resident, also a woman, had been buying shoes online with the help of her son, who gradually took a more prominent role in the effort as her eyesight worsened.
If you haven’t already, you will want to ensure that activities staff members are proficient in using computers and smartphones so they can teach or help residents use the internet and specific programs and apps to shop and purchase products. The tech-support need that current residents have for such services will only grow for residents of the future.
Of course, older adults are becoming more proficient over time as well.
The AP article, citing statistics from market research firm NPD Group’s Checkout Track, said that Americans aged 65 or more years spent an average of almost $187 per month online in 2020, a 60% increase over the previous year. That makes them the fastest-growing group of online shoppers by age group. Instacart President Nilam Ganenthiran predicts that online grocery shopping will be a “new normal” for older adults even after the pandemic ends, according to AP.
A separate study from the Pew Research Group, conducted in April 2020, found that 19% of adults 65+ had ordered groceries from a local store online or through an app as a result of the pandemic.
The same study found that 20% of study participants in this age group had had a virtual party or online social gathering with friends or family during the pandemic; 19% had ordered food from a local restaurant online or through an app; 15% had watched a concert or play that was live streamed through the internet or an app; and 8% had participated in an online fitness class or did an online workout video at home.
As senior living communities open up again and in-person visits and group activities become more common, old habits may return. But residents also will want to rely on their newfound tech skills when it makes sense to do so. This may be one of the lasting changes in senior living brought on by the pandemic.