As you may have noticed in recent years, the words “technology” and “seniors” have been showing up together increasingly more often. According to Pew Research, almost 60% of seniors use the internet and 77% have cell phones. Baby Boomers entering the market for senior housing are demanding that the comforts of home they are used to – which include technological services and high-functionality living quarters – become priority offerings for senior communities. Since technology is redefining how seniors interact with family and friends as well as improving their quality of life, we should also look ahead and discuss how technology will affect senior living furniture design.
Technological advances benefitting seniors include cellphone functionality (large displays, advanced audio accessibility), remote controls for doors, windows, temperature control and lights, and wearable personal safety monitors. Although at a lower rate than the general population, seniors are also adopting social media, communication software like Skype, and mobile devices like tablets and smartphones which they can use to connect with family and friends, as well as senior-centric apps to maintain cognitive function.
Using Senior Living Furniture Design to Accommodate New Technology
Seniors want to stay connected, and embedding power outlets and docking stations into furniture improves accessibility. Enabling people to plug devices into a table, chair, or other furniture means plugging one cord from that piece of furniture is the only time someone will need to bend over to access a hard-to-reach outlet. Since devices have become more mobile and will be plugged and unplugged more often, this is important. Wireless boosters could also be included in furniture that residents will be near while using wireless devices to ensure their connection to the internet isn’t interrupted.
Personal safety monitors have their advantages, but there are some instances when wearable technology can interfere with the comfort of the wearer. Integrating technology into a bed could mean easily monitoring a community resident’s sleep patterns, as well as a steady reading of their vital signs, without requiring the resident to wear bothersome or obstructive equipment.
With so many portable devices in use, furniture should be designed to maintain healthy posture. Tabletops and other flat surfaces should be at the right height and chairs should use ergonomic configuration to enable good neck and spine positioning.
Seniors are living longer lives and are looking for communities that provide the amenities they are looking for. Technology empowers them to stay connected to their loved ones and engage in continued education and interaction – furniture design should support and enable these advancements.