Young Latin American woman helping a senior woman paying her bills online on her laptop - lifestyle concepts
New tech requires careful consideration for seniors in memory care. (Credit: Hispanolistic / Getty Images)

More and more seniors are adapting to new technologies, but that doesn’t mean senior living providers can just shove a smartphone into their hand and expect results.

This is particularly true of memory care residents, or seniors with dementia, for whom some innovations, however well-meaning, can seem confusing or even scary, senior living administrators cautioned during a recent online webinar.

“There’s an adoption curve,” Stephanie Deecher, assistant administrator with The Heritage Memory Life Community, said during a recent panel discussion. “During COVID, the staff was wary about using technology with memory care residents. It’s not always a pleasant experience. One woman FaceTimed with her son and thought he was locked in a room somewhere because she could only see his face on screen.”

Deecher described a careful, targeted approach to introducing new tech and tech-dependent games and activities to memory care residents. Many of these tools do end up being important ways to engage and stimulate residents, Deecher said, so onboarding them appropriately could make or break a resident’s experience. 

The conversation was hosted by LifeLoop as part of its webinar series highlighting various communities’ successful technology initiatives. 

The Syracuse-based Heritage Life panelists were touting programs available through LifeLoop’s content platform, but the insights are applicable for any engagement tool aimed at seniors with all stages of dementia. 

“There’s no one-size-fits all for meaningful, enriching activities,” Deecher said. “Each individual changes from day to day too. Finding games and activities that can be suited to both individuals and groups has really helped.”  

When using a new platform, like LifeLoop or the virtual reality “elderverse” content suite, caregivers should try to introduce one game at a time to seniors. Deecher suggested something relatively simple, like a traffic jam game, that are relaxing or entertaining, to ease them into the concept of virtual and interactive tools.

Many memory care seniors end up loving video-based games and tools, noted Kimberly Greco, Heritage’s recreation therapist.

“They like things they remember,” Greco said of the videos. “Old commercials. Stories or memories they associate with. Faith-based options are great.”

Video content platforms also let seniors engage with family members by witnessing events such as weddings that they cannot attend in person, Deecher said.

The ability for seniors, family members and caregivers to interact can be tracked by LifeLoop’s new engagement index, which the company announced earlier this month as part of its “LifeLoop Insights” tool. 
LifeLoop’s “Flourishing Communities” webinar series will continue later this month.