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October 5, 2023

Creating a Virtual Senior Center: Online Programs for Senior Communities

Wellness
Innovation
Retention

Welcome to the era of virtual senior centers: an exciting blend of technology and tradition, offering a wide variety of online programs tailored to the unique needs and interests of our older adults.

Online programming can be a great option for senior centers and communities, allowing for flexibility in activity programming, an expanded activities calendar that offers virtual events and hybrid classes, as well as a greater accessibility for everyone in the community to join events! 

This guide will look into virtual senior center options and some online programming available for senior communities in the realm of education, entertainment, fitness and more. Whether they have a knack for learning new crafts, or a desire to stay fit, or simply want to enjoy a good movie, seniors can now do it all with a click.

Explore the world of virtual senior centers and find the perfect fit for your community.

What is a virtual senior center? 

A virtual senior center is an online platform that provides various services and activities to older individuals. This might include health and wellness programs, educational materials or classes, social activities, and opportunities for virtual interaction with others.

It's designed to keep seniors engaged, informed, and connected, especially those who may have difficulty leaving their homes due to physical limitations, transportation issues, or health concerns.

Virtual Senior Centers: Services & Activity Ideas

The most efficient answer to these issues is using online activity and entertainment resources. Providing virtual socialization and online wellness programs allows seniors to stay healthy without the risk in-person socialization can bring.

Taking advantage of technology is necessary if senior centers want to continue their community experience with as little interruption as possible. 

1. Televeda


Making friends (including furry friends) and on Televeda!

Televeda is an award-winning platform for community-based organizations. The platform is a safe space for individuals to share stories and experiences, enjoy life events, and learn new things in an inclusive atmosphere.

Older adults can join Televeda classes for free to get social, active, meet new people, and combat loneliness. Our accessible live-streaming capabilities allow users to make friends and have fun, while our customizable calendars enable senior centers to use our classes, host their own, or make custom requests to meet all their needs for virtual activities for older adults


From virtual trivia and bingo to online yoga and Tai Chi, all of the weekly events can be streamed directly to resident rooms or from one's homes, making it the “place” to go for virtual senior center activities. As a community partner, Televeda develops and implements programming that puts organizations at competitive advantage among other senior living centers, and allows you and your staff to focus on the core duties and needs of your organization. 

Pros:

  • Access tolive & Interactive classes every week day
  • Expert workshops & vetted instructors
  • Range of classes including art, music, yoga, Zumba gold, Zentangle, and more
  • Offers a safe space with like-minded adults
  • Registration is quick and secure: no passwords or downloads required
  • Members across the country meet live in diverse events to share their lives, swap stories, and expand their horizons
  • Design for even the most tech hesitant
  • Provides live tech support to anyone who needs it
  • Screen sharing is available for hosts


Cons

  • You do need internet access to join Televeda classes. Need help with that? Televeda installs subsidized devices and internet in low-income neighborhoods so every community can have resources to connect.

Members have been known to make lifelong friends here. We hope you're next! 

Join us on Televeda

2. TV Broadcasting

Since residents and seniors primarily keep to their rooms, activity directors should check with their community’s broadcasting provider to see what options are available for their center. The provided TV shows and movies can then be viewed by seniors independently in their rooms. 

Pros

  • Television is a recognizable medium and one that residents probably already have experience with it.
  • It’s also convenient, since it only requires a TV and a broadcasting service (which most centers already have) and the viewing options are on demand.

Cons

  • Though TV and Video Libraries can provide entertainment to many seniors at once, having pre-selected material allows for little personalization and choice.
  • There is also very little interaction involved; passive consumption of television may keep residents occupied, but offers little in social, mental, and physical benefits.
  • Most families don’t want to stick their children in front of a TV indefinitely, and the same should be said for parents.

Bottom line? TV is fine...if you don't have anything else.

3. Video Libraries

Part of Televeda's video library

Video libraries provide a wide range of video content, ranging from fitness classes, educational lectures, cooking demos, DIY crafts, etc. which keeps seniors engaged and entertained.

Pros

  • Video libraries are accessible anywhere, anytime. Seniors can easily access and enjoy the content at their own pace and convenience.
  • For seniors willing to learn new things, video content can be a great source. They can pause, rewind, and replay the lessons as many times as they want, enhancing the learning experience.
  • They are visually appealing and captivate seniors' attention better than just written or auditory mediums.
  • Video libraries can serve as discussion starters, leading to chats after watching a program,

Cons

  • Seniors might face difficulty understanding how to operate the system, navigate through the library, or troubleshoot technical issues.
  • Constant internet connection is a prerequisite for buffering or watching videos. Not all senior centers may have access to robust internet connections.
  • Videos are one way: relying significantly on videos could reduce in-person interaction, which is crucial for emotional wellbeing and mental health of seniors
  • Maintaining a video library or subscribing to premium content may involve costs that may not be affordable for all senior centers.

Bottom line? Video libraries can be a great option if you don't have access to live events. Televeda even offers an on-demand video library version of our live events, so if attendees can't make it to a live session, they can catch up later! 

That being said, you'll definitely want to offer a mix of live virtual activities with your on demand options.

View Televeda's video library

4. YouTube Live and Facebook Live

These are live streaming services showing live games, sports, music, and more. They also allow you to add your own live streamed content. 

Pros

  • Facebook and YouTube are large, recognized, stable technology companies that offer a variety of videos.
  • If you’re uploading your own content, you can provide whatever sort of programming you want to show your residents.
  • Fortunately, many seniors are already on Facebook and know how to use the interface, and YouTube has a simple search bar at the top of their pages for its users.
  • Both of these services are free, unless you’re subscribing to Youtube Premium.

Cons

  • The size and capability of Youtube and Facebook are a great advantage, but the reach of these platforms also leaves them vulnerable to attempts in online scamming.
  • Though they have security processes, their primary source of revenue is advertising, and both companies don't necessarily have the best track records of maintaining user privacy. This could therefore be a little dangerous for seniors, since they are already targeted.
  • In addition, if you’ve decided to provide your own content, you will need staff to create, produce, and upload the content, as well as to provide tech support to seniors who need it.
  • You’ll also need to continue the same administrative duties as in-person activities, such as attendance, check-ins, and program results.

5. Online Games

Play bingo, Scattergories, Sudoku, and more! 

There are many games available for seniors online, from memory and brain games, to online versions of crosswords, sudoku, mahjong, and puzzles.

The AARP offers a wide variety of online games, and if seniors have electronic devices, they can download applications like Elevate and Lumosity for some fun brain “workouts” (check out more memory-boosting apps here). 

You can also help your members play online games with their grandkids from afar, allowing for interaction and engagement.

Pros

  • Online games—especially the brain-game variety—provide intellectual stimulation, improve memory, and aid in preventing cognitive decline.
  • They’re also fun and interactive, and individual seniors can choose their favorites.

Cons

  • Though most games are free, some can cost money, and others may require in-app purchases, which could lead to seniors spending more than they realize.
  • Finding, purchasing, and using the games may also require staff support.
  • If a senior doesn’t have an electronic device that supports these games, they won’t be able to participate.
  • And if adults are playing on their own, there will be a lack of socialization there.

The solution? Play games live with friends! Televeda offers live brain games every week so you get all the fun with all the socialization.

Join a Televeda online game

5. Zoom-Based Activities

Zoom is a video-conferencing application that allows several users to join at once. You can host live programming through your computer, and have your seniors watch and interact from the safety of their room.

Zoom has significantly grown in popularity, especially in the recent months due to an increased number of companies functioning entirely over video conferencing. Zooms active users increased from 10 million a day to 200 million a day, in just three months, and it's still continuing to grow.

Pros

  • Zoom offers free, 40-minute calls for up to 100 attendees
  • Allows its users to interact (not just passive viewing)
  • Provides you the flexibility of sharing your own content with your residents, and they can even share content with you! 

Cons:

  • Despite its growth, Zoom has also been facing inquiries over their security practices. Anyone with a Zoom meeting link can “Zoombomb” attendees, meaning they can interrupt your class and broadcast inappropriate content, and intruders may be able to hijack users’ webcams.
  • Zoom’s app has also been sharing its data with third parties (like Facebook), which is another breach in security, and has recently been sued for overstating their privacy standards.
  • It also has recently been in the news for its new customer data policies. The platform’s terms of service automatically assume user consent for the company’s utilization of transcripts, recordings, and engagement data for “machine learning, artificial intelligence, training, testing."
  • Compared to other video conferencing options, Zoom can be expensive, especially if you need a conference tool that can stream high-quality video and audio.
  • Finally, if you don't change your settings, Zoom requires a download to be able to use, which can be another confusing step for those who aren't comfortable with technology.

Live Streams of Worldwide Attractions

Several art, cultural, and environmental institutions have been supplying live streams to viewers worldwide. Zoos, museums, and even national parks have been sharing various wonders, and celebrities have even been live streaming concerts and music sets to followers and fans.

Provide links and sources for these events, and any resident with an internet connection and device can view them. 

Pros

  • There are a ton of live, free resource options, and a wide variety to choose from.
  • Opportunities to learn something new and experience events from across the world.

Cons:

  • Seniors need both internet access and a device to use.
  • Setting residents up with the right links can also add staff burden.
  • If seniors are doing this alone, there is little socialization

Pros & Cons of Virtual Senior Centers

Source

Pros of Virtual Senior Centers

1. Accessibility: Seniors can access the services from the comfort of their homes. This is especially helpful for those who have mobility issues or who live in remote areas.

2. Variety of Programs: These platforms often offer a range of programs (such as exercise classes, art workshops, or educational lectures) that seniors can choose from based on their interest.

3. Social Interaction: Gives seniors the opportunity to socialize, make new friends, and avoid loneliness.

4. Convenience: Seniors can participate in activities at their own pace and at a time that suits them.

Cons of Virtual Senior Centers

1. Technology Challenges: Some seniors may find it difficult to use the technology required for participation.

Solution? Work with organizations like Televeda that make it easy to access their programming. Not only that, but Televeda offers live tech support for any event attendee who needs help signing up, logging in, attending a class, and more! 

2. Lack of Physical Activity: Although some online programs encourage physical activities, they may not be as effective or engaging as in a traditional senior center setting.

Solution? Take virtual exercise classes! Televeda offers various yoga classes, Zumba gold, light cardio, strength training, and much more. Get all the physical benefits you need--while socializing too! 

3. Limited Access: Not all seniors have access to the required technology or high-speed internet.

Solution? Televeda is installing subsidized devices and internet in low-income neighborhoods so every community can have resources to connect.

Learn more about our digital inclusion initiatives here.

online activities for seniors, virtual programming for senior communities
Seniors enjoying virtual classes with televëda.

Join the Best Virtual Senior Center Community

Taking the time to find the right resource to use at your senior care community is important, and depending on what you’re equipped with, several of these options could be helpful.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that for the more interactive options, it will be necessary to develop your own processes around tech support, production, live streaming, content and activity calendar management, scaling, and administration.

All of these extra steps can prevent senior centers from taking advantage of this technology, which is why we make sure to provide an end-to-end solution that covers all of these services for the communities we work with.

This is why, despite the coronavirus pandemic, we were able to seamlessly provide senior centers with our live streamed fitness, educational, and gaming classes that are two-way and interactive.

But we aren’t just our software: we’re the tech support, consultants, security advisors, expert teachers, content curators, and data analyzers. Televeda understands 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.

As a community partner, we develop and implement programming that puts you at a competitive advantage among other community centers, allowing you and your staff to focus on the core duties and needs of your community.

Build your virtual senior center with Televeda

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