By Susan Saldibar

For those of you who celebrated the Christmas holidays growing up, what stands out in your memory? The colored lights? The smell of cookies in the oven or pine needles from the tree? Or maybe Nat King Cole singing about those ever-roasting chestnuts on an open fire? How about the visits from relatives and the retelling of old family stories? I sound like I’m writing a Hallmark card, but there’s a point to all this.

Why should aging seniors have to leave all that behind when they enter an assisted living community?

The people at LifeShare Technologies (a Senior Living Foresight partner) think they shouldn’t have to. In fact, residents should be able to make new memories. If that seems like a lofty goal, you probably haven’t spoken with Miles McCollum, Director of Sales for LifeShare. Miles told me some of the things they’re stoked about bringing to their client communities to rekindle the holiday spirit.

  • Holiday scents to fill the air. This is where the pine needles and grandma’s cookies in the oven come alive again. The scent system provides a wide range of hypo-allergenic scents (I sampled some of them at LeadingAge last month). “Instead of plug-ins, why not use a system that provides the perfect amount of scent for your preference?” he says.
  • Activities and announcements where everyone can see them. The CommunityShare app allows communities to display holiday activities, pictures, announcements, and dining information on common area TVs for everyone to see. “You are having some of the best events of the year right now, why not promote and show them off?” Miles suggests.
  • Music, music, music. Holiday music flowing from any TV, any time. Whether it’s “White Christmas” or “Run, Run Rudolph”, the LifeShare music app provides full control to enable on the fly adjustment of the playlists. Given the wide range of holiday music styles, this makes pleasing everyone a lot easier.
  • Information, right at the fingertips. Yes, older adults love their smartphone apps almost as much as millennials. LifeShare’s mobile app lets both residents and family members quickly access events and schedules along with any special or last-minute announcements. Now, families can share those pictures and videos of grandchildren participating in school or church programs. Best of all, Miles tells me, the app is free for any family member to download (no charge per download, as with some other systems).
  • Connecting to family, right in the room. Enabling residents to be able to view pictures and heart-felt messages from family, right in the comfort of their own apartments, makes them feel more connected, especially over the holidays. It’s also how new memories are formed. LifeShare makes this possible with their In-Room application.
  • Calendars to keep everyone in the loop. If ever there was a time of year when calendars are needed, this is it. And not just for residents and families. Staff members need instant access to the community calendar as well. “With the ability to adjust your activity calendars from anywhere, any time, on any device, and print them on-demand, LifeShare’s activity calendars are one of the most heavily utilized features this time of year,” Miles tells me. No kidding. I can see why.

Miles went on to talk about the LifeShare organization and how much joy it brings them to know that their technology is being used to bring people together, share old memories, and create new ones. “After all”, he tells me, “LifeShare was started because our founders felt cut off from their aging loved ones and regretted not being able to visit them as they would have liked.”

So, have a look at your own community. Maybe it’s time to ask a few questions: Are we “half-baking” the holiday experience for residents, making them long for holidays past? Or are we connecting them to their family and friends today? Are we leaving residents to conjure up old memories, or are we helping them make new ones?

For more information about LifeShare Technologies, please visit their website.