Technology Use Among Seniors in 2021 | Where It’s At and Where It’s Going

Older Adult Woman Looking at Smartphone

Dec 15, 2021 | Industry Trends

As we head into a new year full of new trends, fresh starts and a world of possibilities, it’s important to evaluate where you’re at and where you’re headed to be sure you’re making the most of your opportunities while catching the eyes – and ears – of your prospects. In the wake of new technology, more savvy seniors and an ever-changing digital landscape, the right knowledge, know-how and partner matter now more than ever. 

SageAge recently sat down with Vice President of Market Research Malissa Illiano, MBA, to dive into recent survey results collected in an effort to gauge where seniors are technologically and how it will impact our industry as a whole now and in the future. Hear what she has to say in our new blog detailing just a few of the results!

Key Insights into Senior Technology Use

The Question

When we began our 2022 planning calls, Sean Ochester, our Executive Vice President of Digital and Integrated Strategy and I were evaluating how we confirm a senior is using technology and social media so we could adapt to the changing digital landscape. In other words, as Sean said, we’ve been placing QR codes in print flyers and promoting communities on social media, but we were not 100% sure seniors are using these tactics or platforms.

In general, we know that many are using technology, and the PEW Research Center indicates that 72% of the public uses social media. 

With this knowledge, we’re able to make educated guesses about technology usage, but knowing the extent they are utilizing it from a social media perspective, where their comfort levels lie and what they actually use it for would provide us with a more concrete view of what’s going on, including: 

  • When seniors are using technology
  • Where they are viewing
  • The amount of time they spend online
  • How it could translate to creating more targeted marketing efforts for our client-partners as a whole

The Study

In conducting this study, we wanted to get a deep look into the digital habits of today’s older adults. To do this, we sought out older adults living around the country ages 70+ with various income and educational distributions. We then asked a series of questions pertaining to technology usage, smartphone adoption, social networking sites, digital technology and more.

The Key Takeaways

Smartphone Usage

As we thought we’d see, seniors are using technology and social media to mainly stay connected to friends and family, but what’s surprising is that many seniors are doing so from a smartphone. In fact, when it came to device ownership, smartphones outnumbered any other option, including tablets, computers and laptops, and remained the primary device used among seniors.

After discussing the results of the survey, Sean said that the main surprise for him was how much time was being spent on mobile devices, with some older adults spending anywhere from one to six hours online a day. He believes prospects will continue to use smaller and smaller devices to conduct research, play games and connect, which means we need to focus on alternative advertising venues, mobile-first marketing and designing websites with mobile view in mind. 

Social Media Use

For me, I was most intrigued by social media use. While some aspects weren’t surprising, the fact that 42% of respondents said they use their phones for social media access was, along with the statistics about new social media platforms. We hear a lot about TikTok, but is it something many seniors are using? For some, maybe, but for many, no. 

Instead, we found many are using YouTube and Facebook, with other social media platforms falling behind.

This survey allowed us to gauge more of what platforms seniors have heard of, what they haven’t, what they would consider using and what they won’t. All of this helps us to focus more on the big players, although, as Sean agrees, we’re both excited to see what social media platforms seniors will be flocking to in the near future!

Alternative Forms of Technology

Some other survey aspects we evaluated had to do with television programming, music streaming, news, search engine use and QR codes. Each of these platforms comes with unique opportunities to target prospects in a new and creative way – so long as we focus on the right ones at the right times.

The Future

As we expand age groups and internet users become more and more familiar with different technology on a daily basis, we know that technology usage among older adults will increase – especially as more find high-speed internet access, smartphones and video technology essential to staying connected.

How will this impact us as time goes by? 

For one thing, it gives us a chance to challenge ourselves and try something new. Whether we’re adapting advertising to be more digital, creating a bigger impression on the right social media platforms, evaluating ad streaming to better guide marketing efforts or using QR codes for a quick RSVP response or review, you never know what may end up working. As we’ve seen, some avenues are already successful, but it’s never something that stays static.

It’s important to evaluate the use of digital platforms as time goes by to be sure you aren’t missing opportunities, which is something that we’re able to do by continuing market research, targeting efforts and paying attention to trends something we’re proud to be on the cutting edge of in an ever-changing technological world.

Want to learn more about technology usage among seniors while getting a more detailed view of what we uncovered? Click here to download our whitepaper or view our presentation today.

We’re already considering how this will affect older Americans ages 65 and up as well as younger Americans, their adult children and the future of our industry. Stay tuned for our upcoming whitepaper that will detail the use of technology among adult children and the implications that may have on how and who we are trying to reach.

SageAge: Here for You, Always

At SageAge, our marketing team excels in helping senior living communities target prospective residents and gather essential information through surveys, focus groups and other tools that will generate qualified leads that will help you continue to grow and maintain your occupancy rates.

If you need assistance in any areas of marketing and integrated growth strategy to improve your business results, we invite you to contact us today to learn more about our proven strategies that have transformed other senior living communities like yours.

SageAge is a multiple award-winning strategic growth, marketing and consulting organization that operates exclusively in the unique senior living marketplace. For more information, please call or email Melinda Schmitz at 816.349.0464/[email protected]. You can also visit us on our website at www.sageage.com/.

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