Technology and Older Adults
Technology definitely narrows the gap. It is achieved in few ways. First, technology allows older adults to keep themselves mentally and physically fit as well as save their autonomy (Hooyman, Kawamoto, & Asuman Kiyak, 2014). Therefore, they are able to stay in contact with their families and communities for a longer time. For example, telemonitoring allows caregivers and healthcare professionals to observe older people through electronic communication devices. Therefore, older people can stay safely at their homes. Families do not need to worry about them. In case of appearing any problems, caregivers or health professionals can provide help before developing a crisis. Monitoring devices can gather information about a person’s weight, glucose levels, blood pressure, etc. Besides, there are technologies that remind older adults to take medications. These reminders can be visual or audible. Moreover, the technologies can order medications if necessary. Appearing of smartphones led to appearing of mobile health, which has improved self-management of care and enhanced communication between patients, caregivers, and health professionals (Hooyman et al., 2014). Second, technologies expand the number of communication channels. In the past, older adults could talk to their relatives or friends only through phones or during meetings. Now, elder populations can interact with others by social communication technologies (e.g. Skype, Facebook). Overall, 13% of seniors are engaged in social networking (Hooyman et al., 2014). These technologies allow older adults not only hear the voice of the speaker but also see the face. Therefore, communication is becoming richer. Besides, younger generations normally avoid visiting their older relatives, so technologies allow seniors reaching them. At the same time, Facebook, Skype and other similar products sometimes make communication trivial and less intimate, so older adults can still feel the gap.
One of popular technologies is Skype. It greatly improves the lives of older adults; particularly their communication with others becomes better. Thus, Skype allows seeing and talking to people in real time. Older adults also can send and receive files (e.g. photos). Another advantage of Skype is that it is free of charge, so it is possible to talk for a long time. Apart from communicating with relatives and friends, this technology could be used for psychotherapy. For example, researchers claim that video calling is effective instrument for depressed seniors who cannot leave their homes (U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, 2014). Moreover, psychotherapy via Skype is more effective than the psychotherapy conducted during in-home visits (U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, 2014). This is explained by the fact that older adults are more distracted during in-home visits of therapists than during Skype therapy. For example, they can take more breaks; particularly, they answer the phone, go to the restroom or take their time to get some water. Besides, psychotherapy via Skype allows avoiding antidepressants, which is very valuable for older adults because they already take few medications for other illnesses. This kind of therapy is also cheaper and requires smaller interaction with geriatric mental health professionals (U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, 2014). On the other hand, seniors might feel lonely because of reducing live communication. Their families may start to visit them less, frequently believing that they have already paid enough attention to seniors. To some extant, it is right because they exchanged information through Skype. However, older adults also need somebody to come to their homes, because some of them cannot go outside. The same happens with health professionals. Older adults visit healthcare facilities not only for receiving treatment but also for talking. Nevertheless, Skype definitely expands opportunities for communication and is effective tool for psychotherapy.
The Importance of Culture Change Movement and Person-Centered Care for Taking Care of the Elderly
The main idea of culture change movement is modifying philosophies and management approach, so aging is no more associated with collapse and illness (Brownie & Nancarrow, 2013). The fundamentals of culture change are found in other ways of taking care. They are currently based on choice and creativity. Therefore, the lives of older people have improved. They can enjoy their lives and not feel isolated, depressed or useless. The family members can spend more enjoyable time with their older relatives because seniors have become more physically and mentally healthy.
Culture change movement primary involves person-centered approach. It is associated with positive effects on care of elderly persons. In general, it values people that deliver and get care. Both sides are treated as individuals. Person-centered care looks at the point of view of care providers and their clients. As a result, this kind of movement builds a positive social environment where everybody enjoys prosperity. Staff has job satisfaction and ability to deliver individualized care (Brownie & Nancarrow, 2013). Older adults have lower levels of boredom. Besides, they do not feel so helplessness and suffer from agitation and dementia less frequently. At the same time, some person-centered care interventions involve increased risks of falls among seniors (Brownie & Nancarrow, 2013). Therefore, person-centered care generates a culture where relationships improve the quality of care, the quality of life, and the opportunities to develop. People have more chances to understand the vision and values of care providers.
The person-centered approach is used in many organizations taking care of the elderly, so its efficiency has been proved on the practice. For example, the organization called Jewish Care also applies this model. According to its director, Jewish Care follows the philosophy that major focus should be on people, not on services (Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute, 2012). They stress what patients can do and avoid stressing the things they cannot do. The services are delivered in the ways that consider the specific history of a client, so they receive relevant choices and control over services provided. This allows Jewish Care to promote “dignity, prosperity and meaningful lives” (Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute, 2012). This concept is not a new one and is common for many organizations, but there is one thing that distinguishes Jewish Care from similar centers. The organization is very responsible for implementing the person-centered approach. In particular, Jewish Care encourages all the employees to participate in the care. Moreover, it engages many volunteers. The organization uses different examples of the person-centered approach. First, it applies Dementia Care Mapping (involves art) to monitor a client’s day in detail and try to find the ways of enhancement it. Second, the organization uses the Eden Alternative. This method offers creating lively residential environments. To achieve this effect, the staff uses different colors, herbs, and animals. Third, Jewish Care has memory display boxes that are located outside clients’ rooms. The boxes have pictures, which are important for a person. Besides, the organization has “open kitchens”, so older adults can prepare drinks and snacks they want. This method allows reducing the dependence of seniors on care providers. They do not feel so helpless.
Therefore, culture change movement as well as person-centered care is vital approaches in taking care of elderly adults. First, they improve the quality of seniors’ life. Older people receive more independency and satisfaction because care providers consider their personal needs and interests. Second, people working with elderly have higher job satisfaction. Third, family members of older patients can spend meaningful time with them. Finally, the society wins because it has more satisfied people.
BMW demonstrates good results in dealing with intergenerational workplace dynamics. Few years ago, the company’s production manager, Helmut Mauermann, realized that the workforce was getting older, so he created his approach to managing the issue. The new model was based on the findings of the experiment, which was conducted on one of the assemble lines of the large auto plant. Mauermann staffed the line with people, whose average age was 47.Then he asked the employees how to improve working conditions and made necessary changes. For example, Mauermann and his team provided special shoes for workers, made wooden floors and provided them with a comfortable chair. This made the employees feel more energetic after work. Besides, BMW enhanced some tools and introduced computer screens with bigger type (Loch, Sting, Bauer, & Mauermann, 2010). Overall, the organization introduced 70 small changes on the plant to reduce the chance of mistakes and decrease physical pressure on the workers (Loch et al., 2010). These expenses had a cost of only about $50,000 (CBSNews, 2010).
The new approach allowed raising the productivity of older individuals. Thus, it increased by 7%. Absenteeism became lower than the plant’s average. The line’s defect rate declined to zero. These facts reveal the benefits of hiring older individuals for BMW. First, older workers are more patient and skilled due to their greater experience (Loch et al., 2010). Therefore, making small changes allowed achieving so outstanding results. Adjusting of the workplace for older adults allowed reducing the impact of such negative characteristics of older workforce as reduced flexibility, vision, and physical power (Loch et al., 2010). Second, older individuals are more loyal to the company. They are normally more punctual than younger workers. Older workers realize the importance of regular attendance and following the work rules. They can stay late to complete the tasks. This is important for BMW because the company’s plants have thousands of workers, such a strong discipline and commitments are essential. Third, hiring an older individual is positive for the company’s image. Germany is getting older rapidly. More then 20% of the country’s population will be over 65 by 2020 (CBSNews, 2010). Therefore, hiring older workers makes BMW a sociable responsible company in the eyes of potential workers. Finally, the company could save money on searching and training of younger workers. Therefore, keeping older staff saves money.
On the other hand, hiring an older individual has also some drawbacks for BMW. First, older workers are quite skeptical to new initiatives (Hooyman et al., 2014). They experienced many cases during the career when the company introduced some ideas with high expectations, which later did not bring any positive outcomes. Therefore, BMW could have difficulties with implementing new strategies and products on its plants. Second, older individuals are more independent than younger workers are (Hooyman et al., 2014). They often work because they want to, so they do not feel the pressure of circumstances. This means that they would not accept injustice, discrimination, etc. Third, older workers have difficulties with adapting to the changes in their work schedules, which is negative for BMW because its plants have varied schedules. This occurs because older adults need more time to modify their sleep cycle, which has a negative impact on their productivity.
I agree with BMW’s approach. It is easier to fire older staff and just to hire new employees. However, the company has a social contract within the country (CBSNews, 2010). Therefore, it is reasonable to keep older workers. This is also in interests of the company because the population is getting older, so it will have to deal with older employees in any case. The new model allowed the company to prepare to inevitable processes and have the advantages over the companies that have not adjusted their workplaces to older adults yet.
Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC)
My Continuing Care Retirement Community is a multilevel facility. It provides a wide range of “housing, social and health services” on the same territory (Hooyman et al., 2014). In particular, customers can live in different types of housing including independent apartments and assisting living facilities. The Community offers intermediate care as well as skilled nursing care. Therefore, the Community can satisfy the needs of different customers. For example, older adults that do not need assistance can live in own apartments. When their health starts to deteriorate, they can move to assisted living arrangements, which are located in the same community. Then they can choose skilled nursing facility. The availability of different levels of care helps older partners to feel safer because they could stay close to each other even if their health condition gets worse. The Community serves clients with higher income because people with low income cannot afford to pay a nonrefundable entry fee. Overall, less then 3% of American seniors have enough money to live in the Community (Hooyman et al., 2014). As for the design of the Community, it is made in a classical style. The residents of the facility are rich, so furniture and decoration are luxurious. At the same time, the Community looks lively. It has many plants and some animals, so clients feel relaxed there but not bored or depressed.
The Community’s financial performance depends on the occupancy of the facilities, so the organization invests finances into expanding the number of services, renovating the facilities and paying good salaries to the staff. The Community also spends finances on training and development of the personnel because their quality of their work has direct impact on the number of clients. The Community has developed schedules with different daily activity to attract greater number of people. Residents can choose the activities from the list. In particular, there are wellness, art, sport and cooking programs.
Marketing is the priority in managing the Community. All the employees and residents are marketers. Customers living in the Community should realize that fully occupied facility means the financial stability, which is necessary for providing them with better services. To raise the number of residents, they should be encouraged to make referrals. Most of new customers come after reading or hearing the good comments from the current customers. Employees should also realize the importance of marketing and have marketing mindset (Pearce, 2007). However, marketing mindset is not enough. The Community also provides a excellent-quality product. Each employee receives proper training, motivation and recognition, so everyone perceives that his/her work is special. The Community’s residents, their families and residents feel this and share the information about the Community to others.
The Community has a strict selecting process of new employees. Working with seniors is very stressing and employees need to possess the ability to work under pressure. At the same time, the candidates should be friendly, kind, and patient. These qualities are checked during a job interview. The Community hires only people with prior work experience, recommendations from the previous employers and relevant education. The selecting process also includes the section where the candidates demonstrate how they interact with the clients.
Overall, the Community tries to target the customers with higher income. Therefore, it offers excellent service, luxurious living conditions, varied care and a wide range of activities. The Community wants residents feel like at home. At the same time, the organization demands paying nonrefundable entry fee and does not provide significant discounts. The Community has an official website and posts advertisements in social media, newspapers, leaflets and billboards. However, most of its customers come in the result of referrals of the current residents.