Smart Technology for Senior Living Is Growing Fast

The older people get, the more support they need from caregivers, friends and family members. Additionally, there is a need for older adults to live in residences that accommodate the ordinary incapacities of old age, including but not limited to reduced mobility, reduced vision, and increased risk of falls.

Smart devices can make seniors’ everyday life safer and more independent. This article discusses the various smart home devices that promote independence and convenience in the senior living community. Some of these devices can potentially save their lives when they are in danger.

Smart devices and their benefits

Smart devices make assisted living and memory care for seniors much easier. Here are a few devices that have proved efficient for older adults.

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Cameras

You may not want to have 24/7 feed on what your loved one is doing. However, security cameras come in very handy when you’re caring for them remotely. You can see when they are moving around and who visits the house when your loved one is alone through the live video feed.

Note that the decision to install cameras in your loved one’s home is a big decision. Some seniors may find it highly intrusive. Therefore, it is essential you discuss the issue with them, outline the benefits, and let them decide whether or not they are okay with it.

Automated thermostats

For seniors, day-to-day tasks like adjusting the thermostat for heating and cooling purposes can be cumbersome. Smart thermostats make their life easier by allowing them to regulate temperature without necessarily moving. The thermostats can either be voice-controlled or remote-controlled.

Smart lighting

Smart lighting features smart light bulbs that allow you to dictate lighting on schedules and turn the lights on and off using a smartphone. Additionally, you can set it so that the light is triggered by movement, i.e., it goes on when someone walks in the room and off when they walk out.

The two best features of smart lighting are automation and the hands-free feature. Therefore, it promotes independence and safety.

Smart emergency contact systems

An emergency contact system is a wearable electronic device that gives on-call monitoring and alerts you when your loved one falls.

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If your loved one is not a fan of wearing electronic devices, you can opt for non-contact devices like smart speakers.

A smart speaker has emergency alert features that make it possible for your loved one to contact emergency services in case of an emergency.

Biomedical monitoring devices

If you’re worried about your loved one’s health, especially if they live alone, you can buy biomedical monitoring devices that they can wear inside and out of the house. These devices will alert you when anything is out of the ordinary.

Biomedical monitoring devices not only monitor your loved one’s vital signs but also provide data to medical practitioners for early diagnosis and treatment in case of emergencies. 

Smart contact sensors

These smart home products benefit seniors with dementia since they tend to leave the house without warning. Smart contact sensors use smart sensor technology to issue alerts on when doors and windows are opened.

You can install contact sensors on windows and doors to get alerted on when they have been opened and for how long they have stayed open. This way, your loved one’s safety is increased. 

Smart locks

It is common for seniors to forget to lock their windows and doors. A smart lock allows you to check whether the windows and doors are locked. Additionally, you can lock doors and windows remotely so that your loved one doesn’t have to.

Smart locks come in handy if your loved one occasionally wanders out of the house. They are also helpful when keys get misplaced.

Note that smart locks may not be ideal for people with memory issues.

Smart smoke detectors

Smoke detectors are a must-have in every home. When it comes to seniors, it is highly recommended that you get smart smoke detectors since they may fail to hear the regular smoke alarm in the home and react to it quickly enough. Smart smoke detectors deliver audible sirens in the house and send alerts to caregivers, friends, and neighbors through smartphone alerts. This way, the senior’s safety is guaranteed.  

Smart displays and voice communication devices

You can buy a smart screen to keep in touch with your loved one easily. This smart home device connects to Wi-Fi and allows voice and video calls to people outside the house. Additionally, they have voice control, enabling seniors to do various tasks like looking up the news, calling up contacts, and searching for information through voice commands.

Smart home assistants

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Smart home assistants like Alexa and Google assistant have gained popularity over the years. They make menial tasks easier for seniors.

Most smart home assistants follow voice commands. Therefore, they are convenient for seniors. Other than that, they can control other smart devices in the house, i.e., they can make phone calls, play music, read books, search for information, among others tasks.

Privacy and security concerns

As discussed above, smart home technology has several benefits. However, there are surveillance concerns. Most of the devices that stem from surveillance and security systems may infringe on seniors’ privacy and control.

Using technology to promote the safety and independence of seniors is advantageous. Still, if you do it incorrectly and without the senior’s consent, the one-way surveillance infringes on their privacy.

To avoid this, caregivers need to communicate openly with their loved ones. Choose devices that offer two-way communication, so instead of you simply watching your loved ones, you can communicate with them.

Tech companies are also moving away from invasive products and creating products specifically tailored for seniors.

Other than privacy concerns, there are security concerns. Most smart devices have software that requires consistent password changes to ensure that they are not susceptible to breaches. 

Conclusion

Most seniors have embraced smart technology since it gives them a sense of independence. Contact us if you’re looking for smart devices for your loved one. We are a smart home hub that offers tailor-made solutions to suit your loved one’s needs.

What Can you Do to Help People in A Senior Living Community?

Many older adults prefer to age in place, even in cases where cognitive or physical decline makes it hard to live independently. According to one AARP survey, about 90% of US seniors wish to stay in their homes for as long as they can. Yet, the US Census data shows that most homes may not be designed to accommodate the needs of the seniors. The survey further adds that older homes have stepped entries, multi-story living, second-story bedrooms, hallways, etc., which make daily living a challenge. So, what can you do to help people in a senior living community?

Even though home care is ideal for many senior citizens, it is not always the best option for them or the family members who look after their health and wellbeing. This is especially true for seniors with medical needs or those in homes that aren’t equipped for it. 

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Senior living communities are a great alternative to home care. Some even offer additional care services while still allowing independent living. These facilities are excellent for the senior’s social life and make the transition easier down the road.

That said, it all boils down to what the seniors want or prefer. In this article, we will discuss some of the many ways you can help a senior citizen aging in place or living in a nursing home.

How to help people in a senior living community

As seniors grow older, they go through changes that affect every part of life. Many times, these changes prompt the need for extra care and assistance for seniors. So the seniors tend to become more dependent on other people to survive even against their wishes. They’ll depend on people for comfort, care, and support for survival and better quality of life.

Whether you are a professional nurse or caregiver, here is what you can do to help people in a senior living community.

Offer to get them around – at home and in town

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For many seniors, quality of life involves maintaining independence, taking part in hobbies, and getting out into the world. But mobility problems can prevent them from all these and cause depression, isolation, and declining health. If the senior has severe mobility issues, you may want to:

Organize and manage their medication

Safely managing medication is critical for older adults. Most seniors take multiple drugs throughout the day. According to studies, 87% take one prescription medicine, while 36% take five or more.

Helping the seniors manage their medication prevents mix-ups and ensures they take medications correctly as prescribed by their healthcare professional. Here’s how to do it:

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Prepare proper nutrition

Many people struggle with getting one well-balanced meal on the table each day. But it’s even tougher for older adults since they can hardly move around. Adding to the problem is that many seniors deal with a range of chronic illnesses that can contribute to or be worsened by poor nutrition. Assistance programs like Meals on Wheels offer great help, but you can also do a few things to help them get proper nutrition.

Encourage them to socialize

Elder care also involves helping the seniors find friends and fun activities to break the boredom. If you are offering home care assistance, this means driving them to their friends or loved ones or taking them to fun places.

If it’s in a facility, then you can encourage them to join different social activities. Socializing can offer a range of mental and physical health benefits. According to CDC, loneliness and social isolation affect many seniors in the US, putting them at risk for dementia and other severe medical conditions.

Help them manage their money

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Another great way to care for seniors in senior living communities is to help them with their finances. Many seniors struggle with keeping up with bills or accessing their mobile banking.

Others find health insurance forms confusing and could use a little help completing them. If you don’t have financial experience, you can help the senior get a referral from a reputable source. Your local area Agency on Aging is a great place to start.

Provide health care services

If you are a trained professional like a social worker, occupational therapist, or home health nurse, you can provide some health care services. For instance, you can prescribe medication, offer therapy and even offer bed baths. You can also hire professionals to help with things you’re not comfortable doing, like giving a bath and so on. But just be sure to check if the elder’s health insurance services will pay for it, or if it will be financed out-of-pocket.

Help with activities of daily living

Personal care includes any help with the activities of daily living like bathing, dressing, toilet/continence, meal preparations, eating, and transferring/ambulating. Most seniors who are unable to do such basic things might have a hard time accepting help. So you need to be understanding and reassuring to help them feel comfortable.

All of these things can greatly help people in a senior living community. Simply spending the time to ensure that their needs are met can go a long way in helping them feel comfortable and secure.

The Best Ways to Ensure Quality of Life to your Assisted Living Community

The benefits of assisted living services extend beyond activities of daily living. These homes open the world of opportunities and greater freedom for seniors. That’s why millions of families move their loved ones to these homes when home care is no longer a viable option.

As a service provider, you are always on the lookout for ways to enhance the level of care in the facility. This can pose a unique challenge because of varying needs of the elderly. But ensuring quality of life in your assisted living community doesn’t have to be complex. A few simple steps can help you deliver the best experiences to all the residents in your home.

The Best Ways to Improve Resident Care:

Address loneliness

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A study by the Brigham Young University found that loneliness can be as deadly as obesity or smoking. Senior isolation may encourage an unhealthy lifestyle, complicate the existing condition and affect cognition. It may also lead to higher cases of elder abuse as perpetrators take advantage of their isolation to scam, steal or injure them. Other studies show that Alzheimer’s almost doubles in lonely adults and that their mental decline was faster.

Going by these studies, addressing loneliness is one of the best things you can do in your senior living facility to ensure the quality of life. Great ways of preventing loneliness include:

·      Promoting social interaction

·      Encouraging a sense of purpose

·      Showing them that they are loved

·      Integrating physical activities like stair climbing, walking, and other age-appropriate workouts to keep the older adults in a solid mental, emotional and physical shape.

Hire enough staff

Staffing is one of the most tangible and crucial elements to ensure high-quality care. Everyone is happy when a facility has an adequate staff-to-resident ratio. But when the facility is understaffed, the team gets overwhelmed and becomes unwilling to offer assistance with activities of impaired adults. They may also become abusive out of their frustration. That’s why you need to hire adequate staff. But it's equally essential to onboard trained staff with a good grasp of residential care.

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Embrace new technology

Seniors may have shied away from technology in the past, but not anymore. The baby boomer generation is now widely adopting technology to keep in touch with their loved ones, manage their finances, alert caregivers in case of an accident, etc. They are using laptops, phones, and smartwatches for daily interactions and other activities. There are many other technologies that you can embrace to ensure your assisted living residents have a better quality of life, these include:

Personalize rooms

Personalization is critical, especially in memory care homes. It helps staff know the residents, their preferences, family, and special memories of travel and a well-lived life. It is also vital in the case of residents suffering from conditions like expressive aphasia and dementia. Usually, these people can’t tell their own life stories so their possessions that represent their activities, achievements, and memories can communicate about their past.

For this reason, it is a good idea to allow residents to bring some of their unique and favorite belongings and items with them as they move into the care facility. These possessions will not only aid with care but also help the residents feel at home. In addition to this, you may want to customize the rooms to fit the needs of the residents. Since no single resident has the same need as the other, it pays to understand the needs of each one of them and modify their spaces accordingly. And don’t forget the outdoors and common spaces too. A few things you can do in this regard include:

Provide lots of fun, social opportunities

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Spending time and maintaining relationships with others is essential to a senior’s mental and emotional well-being. It can prevent depression which is common with seniors. Studies by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that 7 million adults in the US, 65 years and older suffer from depression each year. And while many aspects lead to depression, isolation and inactivity tend to be the biggest contributors.

Alzheimer’s Association recommends socialization to help seniors maintain brain activity. As such, providing lots of fun and social opportunities in your facility can be a great way to improve the level of care in your homes. Here are a few recommendations for social activities.

Make tidiness a priority

One of the main reasons seniors move from home care to assisted living is to get help with laundry and housekeeping. Providing stellar personal care services is essential, but ensuring that the rooms and surrounding area are in tip-top condition is also crucial. Assisted living homes always need to be clean to create a healthy environment for residents and caregivers. Hiring professional cleaning services can be a great way to ensure your facility stays clean. A clean facility offers plenty of benefits, including:

Emphasize providing quality meals and dining experience

Dining isn’t just an essential part of a senior’s social life in an assisted living community, it’s an important pleasure for them as well. Residents enjoy nice meals in a good dining setting. They also need well-balanced meals as part of their health care. When it comes to resident care, it is the simple things that matter, like eating what they want, when they want, and where they want.

While providing meals for the elderly, it’s vital to take note of their varying health needs. For instance, seniors with heart disease need to avoid processed meals and high-fat dairy products. Instead, they should eat high-quality proteins, healthy fats, colorful veggies and fruits, and low-fat dairy products. In addition to nutrition, you want to create an appealing dining atmosphere that makes residents eager and willing to enjoy their meals.

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Why Memory Care Communities Are Growing

Every day, Grace visits her 78-year-old husband, Andrew, who lives in one of the memory care communities, just a few miles from her home. Andrew has severe Alzheimer's disease and needs 24-hour supervised care in a secure environment.

"It is the most exciting part of my day," says Grace, 75. "I take advantage of that time to feed him and make sure he's comfortable. I don't think he recognizes me, but we still share that special bond," she adds. “Each time I visit, we put in earbuds and listen to music from a single iPod, just like we did back in the day."

For many years, Grace and her two daughters took care of Andrew at home. When he was first diagnosed with Alzheimer's eight years ago, they hired a nurse to provide home care. But they later put him in a day program for seniors with memory loss.

"The arrangement was great at first, but as the disease progressed, it was no longer viable. So we opted to move him to a retirement home. That too, couldn't work because he started to wander," says Grace. "Our daughters and I decided to move him to the closest senior living home for specialized care. We're happy that he’s getting the best level of care."

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Many senior living homes offer specialized care for people with memory loss, dementia and Alzheimer's.

Grace's story depicts what millions of other American families go through trying to care for a loved one with dementia. At some point, they will have to seek professional help, as home care becomes impractical. And that's where memory care communities come in.

What are memory care communities?

Memory care communities are residential spaces that provide intensive specialized care for people with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. They are designed to offer safe, structured environments with routines to lower stress for people with memory problems. Many nursing homes and assisted living facilities have special memory care units for patients with memory lapses. But some memory care communities are stand-alone.

Memory care is a growing segment of the senior housing sector. According to Senior Housing Business, the number of memory care units increased by 55% from 2013 to 2018. And this number is set to rise since World Health Organization projects that dementia cases will hit the 82 million mark by 2030 and 152 million by 2050. Today, there are around 50 million people with dementia globally.

Construction of memory care facilities overheats

A growing number of seniors need memory care services to help live with memory issues. If not for medical success, the number of seniors 65+ with Alzheimer's in the US is projected to grow to nearly 13 million in 2050. This is a significant rise from about 5 million in 2013, as per a report published by the Alzheimer's Association. The report further reveals that more than 6 million Americans are living with Dementia Alzheimer's.

This is a considerable number. But it still doesn't capture the entire need. Alzheimer's is only a single cause of dementia. But there are risk factors like Parkinson's, Huntington's disease, Traumatic brain injury (TBI), and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

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Highly specialized memory care facilities strive to offer their patients 24 hour supervision, while using the latest technology to help reduce the symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

What's driving the growth in memory care communities?

McKnight Senior Living post shows a rising trend in occupancy for memory care communities. According to the post, there was an 82.7% occupancy rate for stand-alone memory care facilities in the 1st quarter of 2019, an increase from 81.5% in the 2nd quarter of 2018. It further explains that occupancy in freestanding facilities was 85.7% in the 1st quarter of 2019, 300 basis points higher than total occupancy. This growth indicates a strong year for the property type. This growth is attributable to a range of factors, including the following:

A growing population of baby boomers

The senior population 65 to 74 years is set to increase faster than any other demographic segment in the US between 2015 and 2030. The US Census Bureau's 2017 National Projections indicates that all baby boomers will be 65 or older by 2030. This will expand the senior population's size so that 1 in 5 residents will be of retirement age.

But as the number of seniors increases, so too will the number of dementia cases. By 2050, the number of seniors age 65 and older with Alzheimer's may hit the 12.7 million mark. This translates to a massive need for memory care communities. On top of the impact Alzheimer's has on the senior demographic, many people are diagnosed with other types of dementia at a rising rate.

With such cases on the rise, there’s an ever-growing demand for memory care homes. The available units might not be adequate to cater to the increasing need. This explains why dementia care developers are moving fast to build more units across different states in America.

Varying needs for seniors

Currently, those searching for memory care homes for a loved one have a hard time finding facilities that offer the most appropriate combination of care services, culture, and activities of daily living. Each person is unique. And about 25% of residents in senior facilities have three or more medical conditions that make a living without professional care impractical.

Memory care communities are not created equally. The culture, atmosphere, and cost of some facilities may appeal to some residents but not others. So, developers are trying to come up with diverse facilities to match different needs and preferences. They are not only striving to meet the growing demands for units, but also the specific needs of individuals.

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Many families simply cannot take care of their loved ones with memory loss issues. Luckily, some great facilities are out there to help take care of your loved ones.

The use of technology such as Apple watches, fall monitors, heart rate monitors can help reduce care costs but still rely on battery life and some technical knowledge to protect senior living communities of all kinds.

Families need help

The Facts and Figures report by Alzheimer's Association reveals that more than 11 million Americans offer unpaid care for people with Alzheimer's and other dementias. For some, this is a way to protect their loved ones for as long as they can. But for others, it's a way to navigate the cost concerns. The cost of memory care is substantial. Dementia is among the costliest conditions in society.

Home care can be a great way to care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia. But at the end of the day, most families always end up moving their loved ones to a memory care community. Memory issues need a level of care that’s not easy to provide in home settings.

Although costly, these communities offer specialized care that dementia patients need. They have well thought out a care plan to ensure that all residents are comfortable. They also have technologies and processes to ensure senior safety. For example, they have wearables like fall monitors to alert caregivers in case of a fall and so on. We cannot say the same for home care.

Senior living homes have been expanding their memory care communities to meet the demands of an aging population. Through effective treatments and services, these facilities report improvements in different aspects of residents’ quality of life.