David Brand interviews a resident for The Fountains’ TikTok account.

When octogenarians hear the phrase “going viral,” they may be more likely to think of illness rather than the popular app. But thanks to the efforts of The Fountains Senior Living Lifestyle Director David Brand, residents of a Bettendorf, IA, senior living community are learning the difference with great success. 

“[TikTok] was an opportunity to express yourself. I didn’t see a lot of content in the senior living community, so I thought, ‘What a great opportunity to do something different,’ ” Brand said. “I saw it as an opportunity to get the residents engaged.”

Not only has the effort kept the Dial Senior Living community residents engaged, but the community’s TikTok account has racked up more 20,000 followers. Brand keeps his finger on the pulse of trends and uses those to guide the content creation process. Doing so allows residents who participate to connect with younger generations of family and friends. 

“We have all these different residents starring in all these different videos, and what we have found is that in any given week, I’ll have a dozen family members stop me at different points during the week and say, ‘David, I just saw my mom in that TikTok! That was hilarious,’ ” Brand said. “I never thought about that in the beginning. I just wanted to get the residents out of their rooms, and it’s been an unbelievable side effect.”

Working at The Fountains has been Brand’s first foray into the senior living industry. Part of his unique approach to his position can be attributed to his professional past as a cruise ship director and camp counselor. He sees commonalities between all his positions, past and present, linked by their community settings with diverse demographics of people.

“We featured three different residents on [one video], and those residents won’t even look you in the eye to say ‘hello’ much less dancing, wiggling and shaking their booty in front of the camera,” Brand said. “That’s a credit to our staff making them feel comfortable and allowing them to be their true selves even in front of the camera. When you get a resident who you can break out of their shell and create that moment for them, those are my favorite TikToks.”

Click here to see the In Focus archive and read how to submit photos of activities at your community for consideration of publication.