Technology for Seniors: Tech Integration in Your Senior Care Facility
Everyone is using technology today—even senior citizens.
With growing tech trends directed toward Baby Boomers, how will your care senior facility keep up? What can your facility do to offer the best technology solutions to its residents? The best senior care facilities integrate technology solutions for senior care that both improve quality of life while enabling your staff the ability to provide world-class care more effectively than ever before
Do you really believe that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Why can’t you? Is it because the dog is old and set in its ways, or is it that YOU don’t have the patience to put in a bit of extra time and energy into teaching that old dog?
We know that animals can learn new behavior at any age, regardless of how deeply ingrained previous learning and habits might have become. It may be much harder, that’s for sure. But it’s not impossible. This is no different than with humans.
It’s easy to find anecdotal evidence that senior citizens somehow “don’t get” this newfangled technology. We’ve all seen the stereotype portrayed on our screens for decades as if to suggest that old people simply don’t, won’t or can’t keep up with progress.
We know better than that.
In part, this stereotype is reinforced by how rapidly the world has changed over the last few decades. There are plenty of senior citizens that feel left behind by such a fast-moving technological landscape. Yet, when given the opportunity to learn in an open and guided environment, seniors can be just as supportive and enthusiastic about new technology as younger generations.
Yes, some people are more resistant to change than others, which supports said anecdotal evidence for the senior citizen technophobe stereotype. Yet, resistance to change isn’t a trait reserved only for the elderly. However, we’re not here to debate the differences between seniors who resist technology and those who openly adopt it.
Instead, we’re here to discuss technology for seniors—technology designed specifically for senior citizens to improve their day-to-day lives that can also be integrated into your senior care facility.
A Look at Today’s Technology for Seniors
Today, people in the U.S. age 50 and over generate $7.6 trillion in economic activity, according to AARP. By 2050, that trend will have doubled, as seniors will account for over 20% of the overall U.S. population.
What’s being called the “active aging industry,” technology for seniors ranges from a wide array of assistive solutions. This currently includes both health and remote care solutions, devices that actively monitor safety and provide support in emergencies, even smart home technologies that assist senior adults’ specific needs. And of course, technology for seniors also includes wellness and fitness technologies to help improve quality of life by engaging seniors to be healthier and more active.
In fact, according to a report by the Consumer Technology Association, the active aging industry is expected to triple in the next three years to nearly $30 billion! The report also states that health and remote care are leading this rapidly growing industry, with senior-specific wellness and fitness technologies expected to reach $900 million by 2022.
Right now, we already have the technology for seniors that assist in the care, entertainment, wellness, and learning.
There is a growing sector of technologies for seniors that aim at enabling more adults to realistically choose aging in place options over moving into senior care facilities. This includes automatic pill dispensers, AI robots that can interact with seniors in a wide variety of ways, voice-activated smart devices, fitness/wellness wearables, and even options for home delivery for virtually anything.
In short, these days, everyone engages with modern tech now more than ever, and this includes today’s seniors. This trend is only ticking ever upward.
When it comes to aging in general, people want to age actively, gracefully and independently. Boomers, for example, prefer not only their independence but overwhelmingly prefer aging in place solutions rather than retiring to a senior care facility. They also know that technology will help them do so.
The Core of Senior Care and Technology: Enter Artificial Intelligence
We’re already living in a world where Artificial Intelligence (AI) is interacting with and altering our daily lives.
Yes, AI is still in the early stages of its development—we should probably say evolution, all things considered—and it’s rapidly improving. Machine learning is getting better at interacting with people; from improved semantic language comprehension to superior predictive analytics, AI is getting better every day.
What does this mean for senior care technology in the near future? In a word: revolution.
AI will be at the core of senior care technology, powering everything from virtual assistants to pill dispensers, robot companions, and health tracking. It already plays a role in genomic health care, where genetic scientists, doctors, and AI work together to generate highly-individualized health care treatments based upon a person’s unique biology and genetic make-up.
This will not only change how medicine is practiced and administered, but it will also ultimately help people—especially seniors—to live longer healthier and happier lives.
Simply stated, AI will revolutionize health care. And it’s already begun.
It also happens to be prohibitively expensive for most individuals, especially when it comes to senior healthcare. In time, this too will change, allowing for healthcare service providers like you to have access to and provide these advanced technologies. This can help your senior care facility stay ahead of the curve in a couple of ways.
First, partnerships and investments made in advanced technology for seniors will help your senior care facility to be a more attractive choice for seniors and their families. Every family wants to give their loved ones the very best care available. You already know that there is a lot of competition from other senior care facilities.
Second, investing in technology for seniors enables you to provide a wider variety of senior care options. With more seniors preferring aging in place over moving into a care facility, offering AI-powered senior care technology solutions can help you to be the bridge in assisted living solutions.
Your roster of residents will not only grow as a result, but the care you provide will establish relationships with seniors and their families that can last many years longer than if they were to move into your facility near the end of their lives.
By offering advanced technology-enhanced solutions at your senior care facility for both residents and your staff, you’re making an investment in your ability to provide the best senior care, attract more residents, and ensuring that your business’s future remains bright.
The Benefits of Providing the Best Technology for Seniors at Your Senior Care Facility
So, what can you do about this right now? How can your senior care facility provide the best possible senior care while still enabling your residents to live their best lives? How do you integrate and emphasize independent living even within the walls of a senior care facility?
The answer, once again, is technology.
The very same technology that will enable seniors to live more active, stable, and independent lifestyles will also enable senior care centers far more options in how, when, and where care services are provided.
Is it really so hard to imagine a world in which your senior care facility is made up of a diverse community where residents may live on AND off-site? Where the AI and other assistive technologies are centered around your care facility, and your traveling care staff makes regular home care visits to off-site residents?
Technology is already enabling some of these solutions. Even in your facility, there are technology solutions that enable you and your staff to provide better care. From GPS location tracking wearables to predictive analytics, sleep trackers, fitness and wellness solutions, and staff support tech, the active aging industry isn’t limited to only those who wish to age in place.
AI-powered smart devices such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home, and Apple’s Siri are just the start. As these technologies evolve, specialized senior care tech will emerge that will connect directly back to your care facility. In fact, this tech is just now getting off the ground.
Pria, a smart medicine dispenser, does far more than simply dispense the right medications at the appropriate times. This is a smart device that can interact with its owner, providing them information much like the smart home devices already in our homes today. Pria also features 2-way video calling, facial recognition, and mobile alerts, allowing families to stay connected and informed at all times.
Jibo is another kind of smart device like Alexa or Google Home, but Jibo focuses on developing personal relationships and providing companionship. It cannot be emphasized enough how much companionship means to seniors, especially those living in senior care facilities. It’s a hard transition that many never fully adjust to, and it’s made even more difficult because many feel an extreme loss of both independence and companionship. Jibo is an early example of what robot companions will become in the future and has already made a big impact on those who have met the robot.
For caregivers, technology for seniors also provides a wide variety of solutions that will assist your staff with the many varied tasks required of their jobs.
Perhaps one of the more interesting recent tech developments is a VR program aimed at empathy training for senior caregivers. This immersive program from Embodied Labs uses virtual reality headsets that, when worn, simulate what it’s like to age while facing serious senior medical issues. This VR simulation gives caregivers an opportunity to experience what it’s like to go through a variety of age-related illnesses such as macular degeneration, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease.
This is just a glimpse of what the future holds in store for senior care.
Right now, there are already many opportunities and options available to your senior care facility to invest in technology for seniors that will truly change lives. These are just a few of the tech solutions for senior care facilities that can drastically improve your ability to provide the best senior care.
Current senior care solutions are already changing and adapting to many new technology solutions. AI will power much of it and those who embrace these technologies early will ensure their ongoing future success as a business, senior care provider, and as a life-improvement solution for seniors and their families.
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