Senior living has reached a pivotal moment in today’s technology-driven age. With the surfacing of COVID-19, the year 2020 has been a rocky period that speeded up the demand for technology in just about every industry in the nation, including senior living. This unfortunate pandemic, along with seniors wanting to take advantage of powerful technologies available even before viral concerns, there have been notable futuristic trends that arose in 2020, and they are quite impressive.
Telehealth is an excellent way for seniors to receive the health care they need without having to leave their homes. They are able to connect with doctors entirely virtually and can speak face to face with a physician online. Health data can be collected via smartwatches, and other alternatives, which then feeds to doctors through web portals so they can diagnose, see patterns and keep track of patient health.
Seniors today want to retain as much independence as they possibly can. They want to live their life without dictation, and infrastructure technology has been evident in helping them reach that goal. It can offer them more flexibility in their lives and conforms to the modern style they crave. Some ways infrastructure has altered include updated networking (5G), telecommunications, modern energies (such as solar panels), user devices, IoT, automation, and APIs.
Smart Home Technology
Voice-enabled, health monitoring smart home technologies have been trending in 2020. The ability to voice activate devices allows seniors more accessibility and seamlessness in everyday living with the assurance that their health is being monitored simultaneously. They do not have to learn how to operate these new devices; they simply just need to state what they want to do and gain information. Along with this, smart home technologies can also come with smart sensors, which can detect falls and turn off appliances (like stoves) after a certain amount of time has passed. Examples of smart home technology include:
· Smart lights
· Smart appliances
· Smart thermostats (like Nest)
· Digital community engagement platforms
Used by both seniors and staff, AI’s have been an incredible way to improve quality within developments. For example, things such as Electronic Medication Administration Records (eMARs) are able to support providers in staying on top of daily agendas. It can personalize care plans and deliver suggestions based on a resident’s profile. Voice AI personal assistance is also utilized, such as the Amazon Alexa, to set medication reminders and answer prescription questions. Overall, it closes the gap between care plans and administration while giving some independence back to the seniors.
Security and Safety
Seniors want to live in a place where they know they are safety and security is optimized. With technology, developers have been able to accommodate those concerns. Common things that target security and safety include medical alert devices/systems, sensors, GPS watches, security cameras, smart smoke and carbon detectors, smart locks, anti-scalding devices, and wall-mounted speakers.
According to Pew Research Center, 52% of Boomers own tablets, 68% have a smartphone, 74% subscribe to home broadband, and 85% use the internet. This was just before COVID-19, so those stats have likely risen since.
Though Boomers might not have grown up with technology in their younger years, they are in it now and desire it more than ever before. Yes, COVID-19 has highlighted the benefits of technology and has increased the push for implementing them in senior living developments, but many seniors longed for modernization well beforehand. Based on the 2020 trends that are prevalent today, it will be interesting to see how much more the demand for innovative technology will grow in the upcoming years, both organically and through generational push.