How to Increase Engagement During Senior Center Activities
Even before COVID-19 changed how the world socialized, senior centers and communities were searching for ways to make sure the seniors in their care were engaged with the activities they offered.
However, with social distancing health policies, determining how to keep older adults healthy & engaged is more important than ever.
We founded televëda with that mission: to create our programming and platform specifically to increase engagement during senior center activities, and therefore reduce loneliness and social isolation in the older population.
How Do We Increase Engagement at Our Senior Center?
Through our curated content, expert instructors, and easy-to-use technology, we measured various changes in senior center residents’ moods, levels of engagement, social connectivity, physical health, and overall well-being.
The Importance of Increasing Social Participation at Your Senior Center
Though sometimes social health isn’t taken seriously, reducing loneliness and social isolation through engagement can see increased longevity, lowered healthcare costs for senior centers, and reduced staff burden. Social health can have a much larger impact that many people realize.
Social isolation is the absence of social contact between an individual and society that leads to feelings of loneliness. It can be triggered by a number of factors including loss of mobility, unemployment, long-term illness, and economic struggles, and is often linked to mental illness.
Social isolation can be an issue for individuals of any age, but it is of particular danger to the elderly population, given that they're more likely to experience those risk factors.
Prolonged loneliness can increase the risk of suffering from chronic health conditions, can exacerbate various health conditions, and can lead to premature mortality.
It’s also expensive: Social isolation, sedentary lifestyles, and cognitive decline are three elements that exacerbate each other and contribute to a billions of deficit in preventable healthcare spending. Lonely people are just more likely to strain health-care systems and national productivity from their lack of activity. Their bodies are distinctly different from the bodies of healthy people.
Loneliness not only impacts the individual, but their caretakers, their living facilities, and the country’s entire healthcare system. Social isolation is a global problem, and requires a global solution.
7 Ways You Can Improve Engagement at Your Senior Center
1. Provide Activities that Focus on Social Health and Wellness
For some fun, easy ways you can support senior citizens’ social wellness on your own, try these five (socially distant) social wellness games with the senior citizens in your life. Whether you’re a senior care worker, a senior center activities director, or have an older loved one, prioritizing their social wellness will keep them happier and healthier for much longer.
2. Add in Activities that Enhance Mental & Physical Health as Well
Anything that requires social interaction, as well physical or mental exercise is a great booster for engagement. Bonding over a bingo win--or a loss--will advance friendships over time.
televëda is all about programming with a purpose: we’re constantly evolving content designed for engagement, improving cognition and mood, and socialization activities.
And that’s exactly what you should do! Without great content, you can have the best online programming platform or awesome tech support, but it just won’t matter if people aren’t joining the classes (hint: everyone loves bingo).
Some ways to do this:
Be aware of the interests and disinterests of your attendees. You may love to bake for days, but if they don’t, you won’t see people at your “Top Chef” cooking classes.
If you don’t know, ask! This links to the bullet above. Get feedback about the classes you do provide, and then start experimenting.The more feedback you get, the more engaged they feel, and the easier it is for you to do your jobs.
Advertise! People need to know the content is there! Make sure your senior center members know what classes are coming up, and when they are. Sending out calendars, email weekly reminders, or even give them an option to get reminder calls or texts. Seniors are more tech-savvy than you think, and they love the text reminders we send them before class.
Have your members host their own classes. Some of our most popular classes and events have been ideas from televeda members themselves. Plus, they are sure to invite all their friends to watch them teach and share stories.
Though content is key, finding individuals that can teach or perform that content in an engaging manner is just as important for engagement success. Bingo is fun, but how much more fun is it when the players love the presenter?
When hiring or training current instructors you want to emphasize a few things:
Personality: Instructors should be personable, address attendees by name, and get to know the members beyond the classroom.
Positivity: Attitude is huge. Instructors should be positive and bring energy to the class.
Patience: Be patient, ensure you're speaking loudly and clearly, and don't be afraid to repeat rules over again.
Present: Your instructors should be able to create connections with attendees of your activities. They shouldn’t just show up, they should truly be present!
5. Encourage Seniors to Make Connections Beyond Hosted Activities
Here’s a quick story to demonstrate what we mean:
Historically, residents from different communities within a senior community we partnered with didn’t co-mingle. Usually, Assisted Living residents would stick with each other, Independent Living residents would keep to themselves, and so on. But with televeda, residents from all parts of the community were connecting with each other in ways staff simply hadn’t seen before.
For instance, two people of Polish descent--who had been living in the community for over a year in different parts of the senior community--were able to connect with each other for the first time in one of our classes, and became fast friends.
But, it doesn’t have to be just connections within communities. We started a facebook group for all of our social media-minded members to post pictures, discuss classes, and share updates. They’ve even recently requested a class that is solely for them to catch up: no games or lessons or workouts allowed!
It’s so heartening to see them build these friendships beyond televëda. They even notice and check in with each other when one of their friends or teammates doesn’t attend a class.
6. Track results, analyze those results, and make changes for the better
Data tracking is key for increasing engagement at your senior center or community. If you don’t know whether or not your programming, or schedules, or platform, is creating changes in engagement and mood, it’s going to be tough to improve.
Some metrics you could measure:
How many members attend each class
Self-reported mood scores before and after class
Who stops attending specific classes (and why)
Who stops attending all classes (and why)
What dates and times perform better for classes
At televeda, we understand that every community is unique, which is why we create data reports tracking wellness and engagement to ensure a positive ROI, and that the vision you have for your center is successful and can best serve your residents.
Additionally, it’s important to ask your members for feedback beyond the numbers. What are their favorite classes? What don’t they love? What do they want to see?
Continuously tracking your metrics and making improvements is necessary for success. And remember, you might have to experiment a bit. The point is making the changes, and seeing if they work. If they don’t, then just keep working at.
At televëda, we describe ourselves as a “one-stop-shop” for senior engagements. We offer the content and instructors, the live streaming platform, the data analyzing, and more. With televeda you don’t need to manage a ton of different apps and programs.
We provides a monthly calendar of curated live streaming activity programming for senior centers and communities that they stream on their interactive, two-way platform.
But, it’s not just software: it’s also the tech support, security advisors, expert teachers, content curators, and data analyzers. televëda understands that every community is unique, which is why they also provide data reports tracking wellness and engagement to ensure a positive ROI, and that a senior center’s vision will best serve the senior community resident engagement needs.
As a community partner, televëda’s programming puts organizations at a competitive advantage, as well as allows staff to focus on the core duties and needs of communities. And by providing a wide array of classes--fitness, education, karaoke, bingo, virtual tours, and more--they speak to every senior’s interests and needs as they foster relationships between seniors, staff, and entire virtual communities.
It's Time to Increase Engagement at Your Senior Center with These 7 Strategies
Social isolation can be devastating. No one wants to see a parent, relative, or friend suffering from loneliness.
The physical, mental, cultural, and economic effects of loneliness are detrimental to societies worldwide, especially for older adults. But by using engagement tools and software, it is possible to mitigate the effects on senior citizens, and save their lives.
Using any and all of the above ways to increase the engagement levels at your senior center and its activities will help you see changes in the health of your members, physically, mentally and socially.