During the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, caring for one of our most vulnerable populations — seniors — has become even more daunting, especially for those living in senior living communities.
Staff fearful of going to work with the virus bravely put themselves and their families at risk every day. The change in protocol has resulted in the cancellation of many daily resident events that previously kept the community joyful and energized. Social distancing requirements also mean that in many communities, residents will not have access to the same level of comprehensive services and care.
However, it is my firm belief that nothing – not even a global pandemic – should affect the care residents receive. That’s why I founded Seniors Rising, a technology and data company that gathers critical insights from residents of senior living settings to implement real change based on their concerns. In our efforts, we have found that technology provides multiple tools to improve the quality and efficiency of physical and mental care for older adults.
Despite the many hardships this pandemic has brought, including devastating losses, more than two years later, it is equally important to consider how it has brought much-needed improvements to our lives and the lives of our nation’s most vulnerable. In my case, it helped me see the need for more integrated technology solutions to address residents’ concerns and make senior living communities more attractive and comfortable for those who call them home.
Fueled by the pandemic, new technology products are opening up more and more possibilities to help seniors as they age. From telehealth to advanced lighting systems, the technology available today enables senior living communities to address residents’ major safety concerns and proactively intervene to simplify long-standing problems.
For example, my company has developed a motion detection system that enables staff to monitor and assist residents should they fall or be further injured. This is especially important considering falls are the leading cause of injury and injury death in the United States for people 65 or older. Each year, 3 million older adults are admitted to emergency rooms for falls. By proactively detecting problems, our technology offers caregivers and others the opportunity to save seniors from serious injury.
Other benefits of implementing technology in senior housing include an increased sense of safety, security, and freedom for residents. Telehealth services, such as those at Waymark Gardens in Glendale, Arizona, help seniors track their fitness and health levels, such as blood sugar, blood pressure and dietary needs. This information is then outsourced to clinicians to help residents track their vital signs and glean any needed insights.
The pandemic has unleashed a wave of innovation, and it’s critical that we capitalize on these advances—not just on the front end, but also on the back end. While my company helps senior living providers embrace technology, we also make a concerted effort to embrace innovation ourselves. For example, we have started using a fintech platform called Melio to help us manage payments to suppliers. As an inventor, I’m constantly on the lookout for technologies that can make my life and that of my clients better.
While more and more senior living providers are beginning to increase their spending on technology, there is still much work to be done to modernize our senior care system. Senior Living Providers Report Increased Technology Investments in Response to the Pandemic, But Providers Must Allocate More Funds to Adopt Smart Systems That Comprehensively Address Residents’ Health Issues, Including Their Physical, Social, Mental and Emotional healthy.
I strongly encourage all senior living communities to embrace today’s technological offerings. Seniors should benefit from today’s technology just as much as younger generations.
Eric Luster, DBA, Ph.D., is the owner and CEO of Seniors Rising LLC and the current President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Waymark Gardens Senior Residential Community.
opinion expressed by everyone Senior Living at McKnight The Market column is the author’s, not necessarily Senior Living at McKnight.
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