TECH THAT WORKS TOGETHER Research has demonstrated a strong

correlation between social interaction and health and well-being among older adults, suggesting socialization can help reduce the eff ects of a variety of age-related dis- orders, according to the National Institute on Aging. “From our perspective, our residents can’t

communicate enough,” says Kelly Andress, founder and president of SageLife. “Implementing technology tools helps us

track and measure engagement, reaching a broader audience and communicating the life and culture of the community,” says Craig Bushby, director of emerging tech- nology for Life Care Services. The industry interest for new tech means

prospective solutions from startups and long-time tech companies alike are fl ood- ing the market. Julie Masiello, senior vice president of technology and marketing for Brightview Senior Living, says developers have identifi ed senior living as an industry “ripe for new technology investment.” “I get literally hundreds of calls and

emails every month from companies pitch- ing new technology ideas,” Masiello says. “The old way of thinking was that se-

nior living residents wouldn’t be interested in using technology until the baby boomer population ages and begins to move into our communities. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.”

Friend, which allows communities to send automated notifications via telephone, text, email, and voice-activated technology. “Technology gives you so many new ways of reaching out.” SageLife’s Andress says its communica-

tions-related tech investments focus on pro- gramming and activities, because the com- pany sees those engagement areas as being “the front line for customer satisfaction.” SageLife uses tools such as Visual Touch, which allows residents not only to check the status of their food and beverage ac- counts but to learn about dining-related events; Touchtown, a suite of engagement and communications tools; and Sagely, a senior living resident engagement platform that can help boost participation in activities and inform wellness design. Solutions can also help a targeted group

communicate more easily. LCB and Bright- view are among those that use Eversound, a wireless headphone system for seniors with hearing loss. “Many residents have age- related hearing loss, and that can lead to lower participation in activities and eventual isolation,” Masiello says. Doyle, at LCB, says giving residents a

way to overcome an obstacle to engagement has obvious value. “It’s made a tremendous impact for us,” he says. “[Residents are] comfortable with tech- nology and embrace the opportunities that

The fi rst step is a “secure, ubiquitous, well-managed, bandwidth-rich network,” says Craig Bushby, director of emerging technology for Life Care Services. “Without it, residents and staff will be dissatisfi ed, and the results will be frustrating.”

Talking tech These new technologies give senior living providers a variety of touchpoints to con- sider. Residents can communicate and receive communications using everything from their TV set to a smart phone voice assistant. “The old way of stuffi ng envelopes into people's mailboxes or under doors, or call- ing people one by one, it just doesn’t work today,” says Bruce Baron, CEO of Voice-

come with it,” Andress says. “They see it as an enhancer to their lives.” Many senior living residents arrive al-

ready active on social media channels and use these frequently to stay engaged with friends and family. Both Doyle and Masiello say their organizations primarily use social media as a communication tool to bridge communities and resident families. Facebook is most popular in many com- munities—the Pew Research Center says


“I really don’t have any room for technology that does only one thing,” says Kelly Andress, founder and president of SageLife. “Ease of integration” is at the top of her wish list for vendors.

46 percent of U.S. adults 65-and-older use the platform. Brightview communities’ resi- dents, for instance, can post their calendars on their Facebook pages, allowing adult children to keep up to date with what’s com- ing up and to see photos from events. Looking ahead, Masiello and other se-

nior living experts see rapid tech advances, including in the realm of the Internet of Things (IoT): computing devices that are embedded in devices, appliances, furni- ture, or even walls and fl oors. These send and receive data and can provide constant connectivity. In senior living, IoT off ers the promise

to keep residents continually engaged and provide data-based insight about how to better serve residents, though communities must consider the need to manage privacy and security risks. Masiello says Brightview is “laying the foundation in 2020 to add IoT functionality for communications purposes as well as safety, building effi ciency, and se- curity systems.” Doyle is also among the senior living ex-

perts to see vast potential in IoT’s voice-ac- tivated technology, such as Amazon’s Alexa. LCB off ers Alexa in the residences of all its newer communities. Residents can ask for maintenance, house-

keeping, or wellness support; check on daily dining specials; and learn about activities on the calendar, among other uses. Doyle believes voice-activated technology

will become an integral part of senior living communities. “It’s inevitable,” Doyle says. “Anyone de-

veloping buildings right now and not having voice-activated technology installed is going to be behind the curve.”

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