How Senior Living Communities Can Foster Autonomy with Technology
When older adults choose a senior living community, they often look for a place that lets them maintain their autonomy as they age.
This preference isn’t exclusive to those who eventually join independent living communities – older adults from across the acuity spectrum want independence. One way you can support your residents and improve their quality of life is by equipping them with technology that prolongs independence.
Here are three specific technologies to consider.
1. Voice Technology in Units
Voice technology, such as Alexa, the artificial intelligence (AI) that drives Amazon Echo devices, can encourage independence at senior living communities. Residents can use their handy voice assistant Alexa to do everything from keeping on top of daily tasks to staying entertained, connected, and curious.
When information is accessible via voice command, residents can keep up with amenities and services as well as domestic life:
- “Alexa, what events are happening this week?”
- “Alexa, submit a maintenance request.”
- “Alexa, start a to-do list.”
- “Alexa, has the mail arrived?”
But voice technology also allows residents to connect with their loved ones; listen to their favorite radio programs, music, and audiobooks (or discover new ones); and stay engaged with the world, whether that means asking Alexa what the weather is like, what kind of bird they spotted in the park that morning, how they can stretch their hamstrings, or what the word repullulate means. (Spoiler: it means “to sprout again.”)
Amazon Echo is easy for residents of all abilities to use, and because it’s hands free and controlled by voice, many residents find this technology easier to use than alternatives, such as smartphones and tablets.
The other great thing about voice technology is it’s familiar, already integrated into many of our lives. We have heard the barista at the cafe ask Alexa to change the music station, or watched as a friend asked Alexa to convert grams into ounces while making a recipe. It’s a device that can make life easier no matter how young or old you are. If your community’s residents haven’t used Alexa before, it’s likely they know someone – perhaps a child or grandchild – who has.
2. Smart Home Tech in Living Spaces
Amazon Echo and other Alexa-powered devices become even more useful for older adults when they’re integrated with smart home technology. Alexa devices can be connected to lighting, appliances, televisions, security systems, and more, which makes it easy for older adults to stay on top of domestic life and maintain their autonomy.
What this looks like is different for every resident, but smart homes allow for that flexibility. Perhaps one resident will only use her smart home technology to turn on the TV and check who’s at the door. But another may find that using smart tech to control the thermostat and lights allows them to continue their lifelong efforts to be environmentally conscious.
Amazon updates Alexa features regularly and introduced a new suite of smart home offerings earlier this year. In this recent push, Alexa has become more predictive and intuitive. Alexa can clock commands that happen regularly – such as setting alarms or turning off lights – and start doing them without being asked.
This also allows the device to prompt residents when it has a “hunch” that they are accidentally going off routine: “You usually make a shopping list on Tuesdays. Would you like to start one?”
3. Community Engagement Platforms
A community engagement platform is a one-stop shop that residents can access from any device – smartphone, tablet, computer, Alexa devices – to engage with your community’s amenities and services.
It’s a bulletin board for a new age, a place for residents to not only read important announcements but also engage with community life. Residents can…
- Make a reservation at the cafe.
- Schedule a food delivery.
- Reserve seats for the community concert.
- Browse events.
- Sign up for activities.
…and so much more.
These platforms let residents take full advantage of everything their community has to offer, while also making it easy for them to maintain control over their calendar and craft the social life they want to lead.
We’ve found that community engagement platforms increase communities’ satisfaction scores by 20 percent. And they can even be customized to meet the needs and desires of your residents.
Senior Living Technology Can Enhance Independence
This is the age of supported autonomy. Senior living communities that already have the facilities, amenities, and programming to engage residents and encourage independence are at the forefront of this effort. But you can take these offerings even further with tech-enabled environments.
Voice technology, smart home tech, and community engagement platforms give residents more agency when it comes to completing domestic tasks, staying connected, and managing their social lives. This ultimately means a happier, healthier, more independent lifestyle.
If you’d like to learn more about how technology can foster autonomy at your senior living facility, set up a demo today.