The Death of Bingo (Seniors Online)

Someday in the not to distant future, our nursing homes (“long term care facilities”) will be filled with residents who spent a portion of their lives online. Email, web surfing, etc. They’ll expect/demand net access in this new phase of their lives. (I first posted on this in November, 2005)

If I owned such a facility, I’d install a fast DSL line, just for the residents. And a strong, wifi signal throughout.

I’d invite family members to equip mom or dad with a computer if they wanted and I’d have a procedure in place to make sure access was restricted to that resident and that the computer didn’t walk off (a problem with valuables in many such facilities). I’d arrange to have some computers in the day room that anyone could use.

I’d invite high schools students to take part in a program to show the residents how to use the Internet. Help them send/receive/read email from family members. Send photos back to their loved ones around the country.

I’d put webcams on a couple of the computers in the Day Room (or whatever it’s called). Yes, I know there are privacy issues, but I’d find a way to deal with that. And I’d encourage family members to video chat with their loved ones. Wouldn’t have to be long or involved, just a short “visit” with a familiar face/voice.

All of this is going to happen eventually. But some enlightened, well-run facility has the opportunity to be a leader in this space. The winners are: the resident; the family of the resident; the young people who share their knowledge and –perhaps– get some wisdom in return; and the facility that has improved the lives (if only for a few minutes) of their residents.

Disclosure: My wife, Barb, is a long-term health care attorney and many of her clients own or operate such facilities. But the idea for this post comes from my own interest in all things online and the time I spent visiting my father in such a facility.

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