19Dec2016

Keep Seniors Connected for the Holidays

The holiday season can bring happiness and cheer, but it can also bring stress, sadness and loneliness.  For seniors, the latter can be especially true if they are separated geographically from friends and family.  Fortunately, there are many ways to combat senior isolation or melancholy.  We’ve compiled some of the best tactics we could find with hopes of brightening the holidays for seniors that may be feeling alone this year.

  • Be a good listener. This is one of the easiest things to do for any seniors in your life.  Seniors that are feeling alone during the holidays appreciate having their memories, thoughts, and feelings validated by a friendly listening ear.

 

  • Create a private family blog. This one may be more time consuming, but it is a great way to chronicle what is going on with various family members – with the added bonus of preserving new memories and keeping senior loved ones involved and in the loop.

  • Consider making new traditions. If a senior loved one is far from family during the holidays, consider breaking from what might be considered traditional celebrations in your family.  Host a virtual holiday party online/over the phone with out of town relatives.  Check out this blog post from theworkathomewoman.com for some great ideas.  Though it is geared toward a virtual office party, there is no reason the ideas can’t be tweaked to work for seniors and their families.

 

  • Send snail mail. Hand written notes and care packages can go a long way towards making seniors feel special during the busy holiday season.  It’s a quick an easy way to make sure they know you’re thinking of them.

 

  • Suggest they connect with others in similar circumstances. Chances are, if there’s a senior in your life that is feeling lonely, there will be others in the same community facing the same situation.  Coordinate a dinner or luncheon for those with family and friends that aren’t local. This can help alleviate feelings of remoteness or withdrawal they may be feeling.

  • Encourage a visit to the app store. There are numerous apps that can make seniors feel engaged during the holidays.  Skype is just the beginning.  There are holiday countdowns, virtual advent calendars, holiday wallpapers, and even apps that allow you to decorate virtual Christmas trees.  You can also encourage family members to go to this website and easily create a video of each other as dancing elves and share them with each other.  It’s a great way to engage family members near and far.

However you choose to spend your holidays, ESCO wishes you the best!

 

12Dec2016

ESCO’s Santa for a Senior Success

Three years ago, two ESCO employees came up with an idea to help out some seniors in communities we were partnered with.  Fueled entirely by internal employee donations, 2014’s drive produced 32 gift bags for seniors in need of holiday cheer.  The second year showed a modest improvement and 40 gift bags were assembled and distributed between two communities.  This year, those numbers were blown right out of the water.

Thanks to a combined effort of ESCO’s leadership and employees’ generous donations, we managed to fill a grand total of 240 gift bags for seniors in need this year!

Here’s a peak at the inside of one of the 240 gift bags ESCO’s elves filled for seniors…

inside-bag

And here are a couple of ESCO elves in action, filling bags and sorting gifts!

filling-bags

 

All told, we were able to make gift bags for 14 different senior living communities.  We asked each community to choose their residents most in need of a holiday pick me up, whether they receive our services or not, and let them know that we are thinking of them and want them to have the best holiday season possible.  The gifts will be shipped out (or hand delivered if locations permits) later this week.

We look forward to making next year’s Santa for Seniors program even bigger.  We believe that every senior should feel important during the busy holiday season, and strive to give our communities the best customer service possible.  If you’d like more information about ESCO’s Santa for Seniors program, click here.  We’d love to hear from you!

5Dec2016

Cold Weather Safety Tips for Seniors

snow-on-tree

The holidays are upon us and with them comes the inevitable cold weather.  The extreme temps affect us all, but seniors are more vulnerable to the cold and need to take some extra precautions to stay safe.  We’ve put together a few tips and tricks for seniors to stay safe and healthy this winter.  Feel free to share it with any seniors you may have in your life!

  • Remember, seniors are more vulnerable to cold weather. They can lose body heat more quickly, and are at greater risk of hypothermia.  For more information on seniors and hypothermia risks, read this great booklet from the National Institute on Aging.  And keep this crucial information in mind from HealthinAging.org:

“Older people tend to shiver less or not at all when their body temperature drops.”

  • Dress in thin layers. From HealthinAging.org’s Winter Safety Tips for Older Adults: “Wearing 2 or 3 thinner layers of loose-fitting clothing is warmer than a single layer of thick clothing.”  Layering can help ward off hypothermia when seniors are going to be outdoors for extended periods of time.seniors-in-jackets
  • Be prepared while traveling. Make sure to keep an extra blanket in the car.  You never know when extenuating circumstances may necessitate pulling over and turning off the car – and cutting off the heat supply.
  • Protect your skin.  Seniors need to keep their skin moisturized, especially in the winter time.  As the Appalachian Agency for Senior Citizens, Inc. points out on their Cold Weather Tips for Seniors,

“As we age our skin becomes thinner and drier, thus more prone to tears. Keep the dangers of dryness low by using a humidifier to keep your air moist, drink plenty of water and eat foods high in water content like soups and vegetables, and moisturize your skin daily with creams and lotions.”

  • Protect yourself from slipping on the ice. Choose shoes with good traction and consider a cane tip like this one when walking outdoors in the winter.

footprints-in-the-snow

  • Combat social isolation. Make sure to stay connected with friends and family.  The days are shorter and the dreary weather can cause some people to feel depressed or sad.  It’s hard for some seniors to travel in the winter, but modern technology can bring people together from the safety and warmth of their own living rooms.  Click here if you’d like some information on how ESCO Technologies can make staying connected easy and simple for seniors all year round.

 

 

28Nov2016

ESCO Technologies and Santa for Seniors

present-red-bow

With the holidays upon us we thought we’d like to share a little bit about a program that a couple of great ESCO employees began two years ago.  Recognizing the fact that not every resident in the senior living communities we serve has family and friends close by during the holidays, Tracy Hulse and Lindsey Marshall worked together to try to bridge that gap.  They decided that since ESCO is in the business of providing great customer service to senior citizens, we should take it even farther and brighten their holiday experience.

Tracy and Lindsey took the initiative and organized a company wide gift drive for our communities.  They collected various self-care items from the ESCO team and organized them into festive gift bags.  These bags were then distributed to various seniors living in our communities that needed holiday cheer.

Here’s a glimpse of ESCO’s previous Santa for Senior projects in action

adopt-a-senior-3  adopt-a-senior-2

This year, the program is expected to be bigger and better than ever before.  In lieu of donations, our Santa for Seniors team is accepting cash donations.  The donations will be used to purchase the presents for each senior’s holiday gift bag.  Each item will then be hand selected by our Santa team and thoughtfully arranged into equal, standardized gift bags for our seniors.

In addition to the items purchased, a hand crafted ornament is included in each gift bag – adding a personal touch to the entire experience.  ESCO employees truly care about the seniors we serve, and we like to show it.  Check back with us in a few weeks for pictures from this year’s Santa for a Senior at ESCO Technologies!

star-ornaments

21Nov2016

3 Major Tech Mistakes Your Senior Living Community Should Avoid

Making sound technology decisions is a business imperative. The right investment has the potential to drive big profits if timed right. A short-sighted or delayed decision could result in missed opportunity or overspending. Of course, technology missteps are made in every industry and serve as welcome “don’t do it this way” reminders for everyone else. For senior living executives or directors looking for such examples in the senior living space, here are four major tech mistakes your senior living community should avoid:

1. Viewing senior technology needs as separate from the mainstream
Studies reveal that, for the most part, seniors have no intention of sitting still and watching the sun go down post-retirement. Some 68% of Americans in their early 70s go online, and 55% have broadband at home according to data computed by the Pew Research Center. In fact, seniors represent a rising subset of users visiting today’s top Internet sites.

  • 13.5 million of Twitter users are 65+
  • 39 million seniors age 65+ own an account on LinkedIn
  • 6.75 million of Pinterest “pinners” are also seniors according to this research

Senior Internet use is not limited, of course, to social networking sites. Just like any member of your senior living community’s caregiving, operational or executive staff, seniors value Internet access as an absolute necessity for many of their daily activities including communicating, networking, entertainment, banking, travel planning, researching and so much more. That said, when building or adding to your community’s technology framework, the list of requirements submitted to your technology vendor should not shortcut seniors in any way.

 2. Getting into technology contracts that limit your flexibility
Contracts that commonly leave many senior community administrators feeling locked-in are cable contracts that include service rollovers (sometimes referred to as “auto-renew” policies) that are easily overlooked. Administrators who don’t understand their cable contracts inside and out can compromise their own flexibility in two ways: by spending money unnecessarily or finding out too late that money budgeted to be invested elsewhere is held up by their cable contract.
What should you look for before signing a cable contract?

  • How long is the contract?
  • What services and/or equipment does it cover?
  • What costs are you assuming “on promotion” and which one’s are set?
  • Must you give notice before terminating your contract? How many days in advance? Are there penalties involved?

3. Forgetting to consider senior-specific technology solutions
Though seniors are quite advanced in terms of technology use, they are still prone to the hazards of age like failing eyesight and hearing, diminishing agility (both mental and physical) and an increased need, at times, for a little more “handholding.”
Not only are there hardware and software add-ons for senior friendly computers, televisions or phones that make a senior’s life a little easier (larger buttons, simplified navigation), there are vendors who offer support staff trained to meet the specialized needs of seniors. These professionals offer a different level of care than a big name, busy mainstream solutions provider might provide due to hard line cost and profitability restraints.

If you’d like to find out more about avoiding common technology mistakes and instead how to make technology truly work for your senior living community, contact us!

7Nov2016

Culinary Trends in Senior Living

steak-and-eggs

For most retired folks, meals are the main focal points of their day. That’s why so many senior living communities put a special emphasis on their menus and dining options.  Seniors want and expect quality dining experiences when they choose to move to a senior living community.  And this trend isn’t going away any time soon; it was number 2 on McKnight’s list of design trends to watch in 2016.

“Older adults’ preferences are revolutionizing fundamental designs related to daily services, such as dining.  Today, they are seeking interactive meal experiences, not just a room in which to eat a meal.” –McKnight’s Senior Living

Today’s seniors are coming from a culture of food snobbery and dining as more of a social experience than a means to an end.  It’s become par for the course to take pictures of a meal’s presentation on the plate before taking the first bite and posting the picture to social media – indicating that this movement is far from slowing down.

banana-pie

These days, most people are used to having dining options galore, and seniors are not likely to voluntarily give that up.

“The race is on in senior housing,” said Andrew Carle, founding director of the senior housing administration program at George Mason University.  “We know the people coming in next really expect more choices, so operators are saying food is going to be a huge competitive advantage.” – the New York Times

Click here to read more from the New York Times about how senior living communities are getting creative and using dining experiences to combat seniors’ decreasing appetites, adapt to taste bud and memory loss, and more.

More evidence that food is a trending subject in senior housing: just this month Sodexo unveiled plans to roll out their Bistro 464 concept to over 100 senior living communities nationwide.  The Bistro is designed to be a supplemental dining service that caters to this generation of seniors that craves more than standard, bland, “hospital” food.  You can read more about the Bistro 464 concept here and here.

If you’re interested in learning about how ESCO Technologies can help your community broadcast your dining menus and services to your residents via InteracTV’s community channel, contact us for a quick chat.

 

31Oct2016

4 Tips for Ensuring Senior Safety at Your Community

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When seniors and their families make the decision to move into a senior living community, they are putting the important responsibility of safety in your hands. Of course, safety should always be the number one priority at communities, as it’s a requirement to follow state and federal guidelines. But what about the topic of safety day-to-day? There are four key actions you can take now to ensure that safety is synonymous with your brand.

1. Revisit and Revise your Safety Plan

Your community should already have a safety preparedness plan in place. If it doesn’t, several examples are available online including this one from Argentum (formerly known as ALFA – The Assisted Living Federation of America). Plans like this include details on evacuating a community, sheltering in place during a crisis, and managing the stress that comes with emergencies. According to Argentum, “responding to a crisis can be one of the most challenging situations you will face as the leader or executive director of a senior living community.”

2. Make Risk-awareness Routine

Every senior living community strives to remain up to code with state-mandated guidelines and strict Federal OSHA standards. But when it comes to safety expectations from a prospective resident’s point-of-view, that is the bare minimum. Because safety risks aren’t always set in stone, it is necessary to keep the door open for new information and education about safety. Just when you think you have every prevention policy in place (fall prevention, fire and flood safety, personal security), something new can present itself.

Ensuring that you and your staff have a routine for learning about new senior living related safety risks is vital. Besides having a system for recording risks as they are reported, you can also subscribe to safety reports provided by insurance companies who deal with the financial consequences of risk every day.

3. Digitize and Mobilize Processes

Interconnectedness is key. Though privacy and independence is important to seniors, digital technology is creating necessary, transparent connections between staff, residents, and family members. This allows critical personal, medical, and procedural information to be accessed by the right people, at the right time. Many communities are integrating wireless nurse call systems and wireless pendants as a means for staff to discretely track a resident’s daily activity patterns and monitor medical needs in real-time.

In a 2014 InformationWeek article highlighting the successes of wireless technology in senior living communities, a senior director of infrastructure confirmed the improvements technology has had on risk reduction in his own community, “we wanted to make sure our people were mobile, and the apps we were looking at wouldn’t tie people to a computer in a hallway somewhere. People who are mobile provide a much better level of care.”

4. Make safety part of your business philosophy

What is your community’s mission statement? Safety becomes ingrained in your community when it becomes more than just a safety inspection on the calendar or a stressful event that you anticipate. Accidents, natural disasters, or human error are unavoidable.

But when you incorporate the concept of “safety” into every element of your business planning, resident management, and employee training, it becomes more than just part of a checklist. Safety becomes part of the experience you want to create to differentiate you from other communities and help you become the community of choice for your customers.

Is your community looking for ways to strengthen resident safety with emergency call systems? Learn more about what tech aware seniors mean for your community and find out about how our services help modernize and streamline your senior living technology.

26Oct2016

Technology and Caregiving

senior-technology

Technology is always changing and evolving because we expect and crave technologies that make our lives easier – whether for work or play.  In April, AARP published a study that specifically examined technology use between senior citizens and their familial caregivers.  The study showed that while there is immense interest in utilizing technology as an integral part of the caregiving process, currently only 7% of caregivers are employing technology for those needs.  The report goes on to expand on how technology can and will impact the lives of seniors and their caregivers in the future.  Check it out here.   If you are interested in learning how ESCO Technologies can help make sure that your community is well equipped to handle the technological advances that are sure to come, contact us.  We’d love to spend a moment with you to discuss how we can help!

21Oct2016

The Best Tips For Seniors Looking For Post-Retirement Employment

By Jim Vogel, ElderAction.org

vogel-blog-2-photo

Many seniors find that they want to remain employed after retirement, either because they choose to remain active and vital in the workforce or because they need the extra income. And while finding a job isn’t difficult for some, others find it hard to make the move to a new workplace after years–perhaps even decades–working for the same employer.

One thing to keep in mind is that now, you can focus on something you love to do rather than on something you have to do. If you’ve always been interested in something but never had the time to try it, such as photography, now is the time! Branch out and get creative, because if you don’t, you’ll never know what you might be good at.

Here are a few tips on how to find the best job for you post-retirement.

Get creative

Many people have a creative spirit, but if they never take the time to explore or advance it, that creativity will get lost in the shuffle of everyday life. Others express their creativity in ways that don’t include making art but are creative all the same, such as cooking or baking. If you have a passion for something and you’re good at it, consider turning it into a new profession. Photography, culinary skills, painting, woodworking, and sewing are just a few examples of ways you can put your creativity to work and make extra money while doing something you already love.

Retail

Retail can be hard work physically–lots of hours on your feet–but it’s a great option for seniors because it allows for a flexible schedule. If you have availability around the holidays, many stores keep an eye out for seasonal help, which means you might only work so many weeks out of the year.

Bookkeeping

If you had experience at your former job working with numbers, there’s a wonderful market out there for bookkeepers who know what they’re doing. If you’re a CPA, you might find placement with an agency, or there’s always the work-from-home option. Around tax season, advertise your services so people in your neighborhood know they can come to you when the big agencies are packed.

Tour guide

If you’re knowledgeable about your town and its history, consider finding work as a tour guide. Colleges are usually in need of such an individual, as are museums, hotels, tour boats, and historical sites. Do some research on your area to see if you might be interested in sharing your knowledge with the public.

Real estate

It will take some classes and a bit of learning, but if you’re interested in getting into the world of real estate, there’s money to be made. Helping families find the right home is a very rewarding job and allows you to be social while mostly setting your own schedule.

Make the most of your retirement by doing something you enjoy, and don’t forget to keep an open mind and have fun!

12Oct2016

Ubiquity Mobile Turns Executive Director’s Cellphone Into Her Office Phone – Case Study

Background:

ubiquity-mobile-screen-1When you’re the Executive Director of a thriving senior community, it’s important to stay in touch. Even when you’re not in your office, which can be often.

Of course, Kelli Tyler of Brownsboro Park has a cellphone. But many of her staff and other business associates, not to mention the residents of the community, use her office number to reach her. She faced the same dilemma as countless other busy professionals: either give everyone your cellphone number, or miss calls and check for messages frequently.

The Challenge:

Brownsboro Park has community-wide telephone service – along with Internet service and a nurse call system – through ESCO Technologies’ integrated CareConnect suite designed specifically for senior communities.

The CareConnect phone service offers all the resort-style features that residents (and staff) expect in an upscale community like Brownsboro Park, including call waiting and caller ID, and extension dialing.

So it’s easy for anyone in the community to dial Kelli’s extension whenever they want to reach her. Except when she’s not in the office.

That is, until she began using ESCO’s Ubiquity Mobile telephone service.

The Outcome:

“I love the ability to look through the list, and call residents back on their extensions, even if I’m at home.”

– Kelli Tyler, Executive Director, Brownsboro Park

Ubiquity Mobile is a cellphone service that allows both residents and staff to make free cellphone calls through the CareConnect WiFi network whenever they’re on premise. That means fewer minutes charged to their calling plans. And no more worries about poor cellphone coverage or “dead zones” around the campus.

But even more important for Kelli, she can use Ubiquity Mobile to receive calls to her office phone on her cellphone. “When I have the Ubiquity app activated, it turns my cellphone into my office phone,” Kelli explained. “I can catch calls I would have missed.”

Kellie likes the user-friendly interface, and the many features of the service – like its caller log and its contacts list that allows her to quickly call anyone on the CareConnect telephone system at Brownsboro Park.

Ubiquity Mobile not only works on cellphones; it also works on other devices like tablet computers. So Brownsboro Park has begun encouraging the drivers who take residents offsite to use the app on their tablets.

“Right now, they’re using cellphones and tablets. Our goal is to get to the point where everything can be done through the tablets,” said Kelli. “It’s just a question of educating them.”

“Once you’re accustomed to using it, it’s really easy.”

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