A recent study conducted by the National Institutes of Health confirms that the level of independence seniors experience positively impacts both physical and mental health. A smart living environment that facilitates independent living assists the physical, cognitive and psychological activities of older adults.
These assistive smart technologies aren’t new but the way they are being combined to provide wellness care for seniors is novel. “Technology is constantly evolving and we’re exploring new ways to use devices that enhance our residents’ experiences,” says Diane Umayam, health services director at Leisure Care, which manages Murano Senior Living in Seattle.
Technology supports personalized care
All care staff at Murano Senior Living currently use an iPad loaded with Eldermark, a comprehensive program used for everything from assessment to communication to care plans. All plans are customized to the resident’s needs. Caregivers use the software to track patient requests and changes to their conditions in real time, allowing licensed nurses to respond to changes quickly.
“The goal is using technology to support personalized care, not replace it,” Umayam says. Before new residents even move in, they meet with the health and wellness director to discuss their needs and preferences for everything from exercise, to nutrition, to the small details of everyday life such as when they like to take a shower and eat meals. The Eldermark program is time-based, so if the resident wants a caregiver to help them cook breakfast at 8 o’clock or just be on-call to feel more safe during their evening bath at 7, the caregiver has that information on their iPad and knows their responsibility and can adapt quickly as resident need or preferences change.
What a smart apartment looks like
Murano Senior Living and other facilities are exploring technology to provide safe, healthy and engaged living experiences. The technology would offer wellness and safety monitoring without using wearables. Wellness activity can be tracked for residents to work toward their wellness goals. Vital updates for familes’ peace of mind is provided with the use this technology while protecting individual privacy.
“We want to monitor daily habits and identify possible changes in conditions early on, while keeping within privacy parameters,” Umayam says. Cameras and recording devices won’t be used at Murano, although these are in place at some assisted living facilities to monitor patients who need a high level of care.
Smart sensors are energy efficient and can be placed anywhere in your home. These tiny devices work in the background, unobtrusively monitoring motion and other activities. Additionally, sensors can make your home respond to you. For example, motion sensors activate lights when you enter a room, eliminating the need to grope for light switches and lowering the risk of tripping over something in the dark. Automated sensors can lock doors and turn down the thermostat when you get into bed. A medicine cabinet can be equipped with a touch-sensitive sensor that lets a caregiver know when and how often it’s been accessed.
“Everything we do has the resident’s independence in mind,” Umayam says. “We’re looking at how technology can enhance both physical and psychosocial needs. Enabling residents to worry less about their daily wellness and safety frees up more energy to continue being active in the community.”
Transitioning into a senior community may well improve your ability to stay active and healthy as you age. Learn more about active aging at www.muranoseniorliving.com located at 620 Terry Ave., Seattle.
4 smart technologies for seniors
Here are some smart home technologies you can install in your home or the home of a loved one to facilitate safety, wellness, and convenience:
- The Walabot Home: Designed to be placed on a bathroom wall and scans constantly for movement. If it detects a fall, it immediately calls a contact you have on file.
- The Abode door sensor: Alerts ta trusted caregiver when a door is opened.
- The June: This combination toaster oven, convection oven, air fryer and slowcooker has a built-in camera, so you can check on your food from another room. It send an alert to your phone when your food is almost ready.
- MedMinder: A seven-day digital pill dispenser that is locked until it’s time for medication.