How Technology Can Help Seniors Stay Healthy and Connected
Although there remains a great divide between the older generation and younger Americans adopting technology, that divide is becoming narrower as baby boomers reach retirement age. The baby boomer generation has been accustomed to carrying a smartphone, reading a book on their Kindle, asking Alexa to turn on the lights, and following their grandkids on Facebook. They may not be early adopters, but this generation understands that technology can make their lives easier, which they embrace.
Aegis Living has taken steps to integrate technology into our communities and will continue to evaluate technology that will better aid our residents, families, and staff. Aegis Living is looking toward the future to prepare for the innovations and upgrades that this tech-savvy group of seniors will expect in their new homes.
Aegis Living Family Link
No other senior housing company uses technology like Aegis Living to provide our families with a window into their loved one’s daily activities. We provide families with access to an online wellness tool, Family Link, which tracks their loved one’s participation levels in activity programs and trends in their behavior. For families, our app answers the important question of how residents spend their days. This daily information and photos can be easily shared among family members. Family Link gives our families peace of mind knowing how their parent is adapting to their new home.
Even greater than insight for our families, we know that socialization is vital to the health of aging loved ones, both physically and mentally. Family Link gives our staff an awareness of our residents’ overall levels of happiness and wellbeing, at our fingertips. A resident may find an activity that really piques their interest and gives them more vitality. We can build on this interest with more programming. Or we may notice a decline in participation, which could be a sign of something bigger going on with their health that we can follow up on.
Beyond understanding the activities that they like to do; we can track their overall wellbeing through participation levels. Not only do we want to create engaging programs that our residents love to participate in, but through collected data, we can better track their quality of life. We can easily see how engaged they are in the community, and if their behavioral changes should be flagged.
Wi-Fi, Computers, and Other Technology Available at Our Locations
For our tech-savvy residents, each of our communities offers Wi-Fi internet access throughout the building for their own devices or community tablets. Our tablet devices are available to residents and curated with activities to challenge their minds, entertain, and educate. Each community has tablets loaded with a digital library of Sudoku, trivia, games, brain fitness, audiobooks, classic radio programs, and a variety of apps that our residents love. We also use online programs in our Life Enrichment activities, like leading our residents through meditation or deep breathing exercises.
Technology has transformed how many seniors communicate. Many of our residents are on Facebook or chat with their loved ones via text or online for a face-to-face conversation. Every community has a computer available for our residents to check their emails, peruse current events, print documents, or touch base with their families.
How does technology play a role at Aegis Living?
Over the past decade, the senior housing industry has changed dramatically from the stale definition of an “old folk’s home” to vibrant communities. Aegis Living has been a leader offering innovative activity programs that engage our senior residents in often unexpected ways, including leveraging technology.
Aegis Living uses voice-activated technology, Amazon’s Alexa, in each of our assisted living and memory care communities. These are used throughout the day during Life Enrichment programming, as well as by staff and residents. The myriad of facts, figures, information, names, current events, and music are never further away than your voice: “Alexa!” Life Enrichment directors know that to keep the attention of this older generation, some with cognitive issues, can be fleeting. No one wants to watch an opportunity go by, especially when you can engage with a resident or remind them of a fond memory. Alexa has seamlessly integrated into our programs, supporting our staff with an immediacy of information, and keeping conversations flowing.
“When we have gaps in our programs, we lose the energy and opportunity,” according to Chris Corrigall, Aegis Living’s Vice President of Life Enrichment. “Alexa is an important vehicle for engagement and sharing ideas allowing our Life Enrichment team to spend more time with our residents.”
For a generation that did not grow up using as much technology as current generations, this voice app makes it easy for them to use. They have adapted to using it very quickly. And we have found it particularly beneficial for those with visual impairments, who don’t need to read to use the device.
Music is also an integral part of our Life Enrichment program at Aegis Living. Music is something that stays with a person well into the aging process and can unlock memories. Having access to music on demand with Alexa can bring a room to life when Big Band music starts swinging or spark a memory on the spot of the first dance at their wedding long ago.
Alexa is quick to tell a joke, play 20 questions, report the weather, guide a class through meditation, or produce facts about the day like famous birthdays, on this day in history, or #1 song on the charts in a particular year. Alexa is an equally helpful resource for both those in assisted living and those in memory care. We find that many in assisted living like to use Alexa for current events, while it makes a great tool to reminisce for our memory care residents.
Many senior living communities are now embracing virtual reality (VR). Aegis Living has been testing VR to “transport” residents around the world from the comfort of their community. Residents can virtually experience places like the Louvre Museum in Paris or take a virtual trip hiking in the mountains or fishing a quiet stream. The options are endless. Our residents have found joy in exploring memories of places they have been and discovering new places that they have always longed to see without the discomfort of travel or the hassle of long lines at the airport.
“We get to know residents and their life stories and create experiences that really make it meaningful,” says Chris Corrigall, Vice President of Life Enrichment at Aegis Living. “Maybe they’ll say, ‘Let’s go to Venice,’ where they’ve taken their honeymoon years ago.”
We use check-in kiosks at the front reception desks to track visitors within the community. Our around-the-clock care staff is supported by technology to better monitor our residents for their safety and health. Motion sensors in the senior apartments help track movement if a resident is up during the night, and medical alerts are worn to keep them safe. Our medication managers track residents’ health and medication information electronically for accuracy and to avoid drug interactions. And as “smart home” technology evolves, we know there will be even more options within each senior apartment in the future.
Our lives are being transformed by technology that not only benefits the younger generation, but these advancements include options for seniors too. Technology continues to evolve and change. As an industry, senior housing needs to include these changes and innovations where necessary, especially when serving a more tech-savvy audience in the future.
At Aegis Living, we are committed to integrating innovative technology for our residents that enhances their quality of life. Come see Aegis Living for yourself. Schedule a tour to learn more.
Additional Resources: Greenwood (Seattle)
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