The senior living space is chock full of different need-to-know concepts, from active adult living to life enrichment programming.
But there’s one emerging term that could use some more explanation: Smart Aging™. It’s a term we created to reflect the potential of AI in senior living – the way it can make the aging experience smarter (and better).
In this blog, we share what Smart Aging™ is, how it can benefit your community members, and why it’s vital for an industry contending with its fair share of hurdles. Keep reading to explore those insights and see what CEO Ryan Galea has to share about Icon’s Smart Aging™ philosophy.
Smart Aging™: The Tool for Personalized Care at Scale
Put simply, Smart Aging™ leverages AI and data – from your platforms and community devices – to personalize aspects of the resident, staff, and family experience.
One helpful analogy: think of how you use and benefit from Netflix. The streaming service uses AI to offer curated feeds of recommended content. The more you engage with Netflix, the better the curation gets. This also limits the need to scroll through Netflix’s massive library just to find relevant content.
Smart Aging™ operates similarly. It uses data and AI in the background to save your staff and residents time, which drives a better experience overall. For example, our Smart Aging™ platform will use data that your residents create – like the events they attend – to offer tailored recommendations. In this case, a resident who regularly signs up for pilates classes may see similar activities (yoga, guided meditations, tai chi, etc.) broadcast more prominently on their engagement app.
But what makes Smart Aging™ smart? “Everyone talks about big data,” Ryan said, “but they never go beyond that.” Seeing data, looking at graphs and trends, is important. But at the end of day, someone needs to do something with that data. “Smart Aging™ automatically completes that next step,” Ryan said. “It gets you to the point where your community experience is truly unique and tailored to your population.”
The Factors Driving Smart Aging™ Adoption: Staffing Shortages, Rising Costs, and a Growing Population
It’s no secret that communities across the nation are looking for ways that technology can plug holes in staffing. Remember, 82 percent of communities are still reporting staffing shortages. And with the Labor Department’s new overtime threshold rule, labor costs are bound to increase across the board.
Now, more than ever, technology needs to offset those losses. And that’s what Smart Aging™ can do with its automation. But this invites a common question with AI-powered technology: will it displace staff members? Not in senior living.
Rather, AI will be a solution to retain staff and help ease the effects of a caregiver shortage. Automation enables employees to spend more time doing the work that drew them to your community in the first place. “By completing a bulk of the back office work, Smart Aging™ automation helps give staff time back in their day so that more time can be directly spent in their front-facing capacities with residents” Ryan said.
Rising costs and staffing shortages aren’t the only drivers behind Smart Aging™ use, though. The anticipated population boom of baby boomers is top of mind for many communities. Notably, this is a population where smartphone usage is ubiquitous and Netflix-like experiences have become an expectation. Senior living as a hospitality business must soon cater to these consumer preferences.
What Smart Aging™ Will Mean for Residents and Staff
One of the biggest perks of Smart Aging™ is the time it saves. And it can do so in a variety of ways. For instance, let’s say you’re a life enrichment director. You’ve always been somewhat short-staffed. As a result, you must build the monthly activity and wellness calendars on your own. It’s a time-consuming process. You need to refer back to attendance rates, previous activities, and any anecdotal evidence from residents (“I really liked this event!”).
“Smart Aging™ can automate much of that administrative load by teeing up activity recommendations based on residents’ attendance, satisfaction, and even personal interests,” Ryan said. In seconds, you can see a list of activities that are “hits” for your community. Here, Smart Aging™ takes an hours-long process and trims much of it down to about 10 seconds. That gives you an opportunity to focus less on the data analysis and more on the tasks that require a human touch.
For residents, the experience is similar. They can get recommendations based on their previous activity (activities attended, reservations logged, appointments scheduled, etc.). This has the added benefit of boosting tech adoption more broadly. Rather than needing to learn the full ins and outs of an engagement platform, residents can skip to the Smart Aging™ dashboard and see the information that’s most relevant to them.
Is there still a benefit in learning the platform? Absolutely. But Smart Aging™ helps attract both tech-resistant residents and early adopters. This is especially relevant when you, again, consider the demographics of this new generation of older adults. Many have subscribed to Netflix or Hulu. They’re accustomed to Amazon recommending certain products. They expect personalized digital experiences. Smart Aging™ meets that expectation and expands upon it, using data to help personalize every aspect of the senior living experience.
The Best AI Tech Partner is a Smart Aging™ Partner
Though growing in popularity, AI is still a fairly new technology in senior living. There are some misconceptions about its potential and its drawbacks. That’s why it’s important to remember that “all AI is doing is optimizing – finding the most likely outcome in any given scenario,” Ryan said.
But that doesn’t mean you should sign a contract from any provider promising automation and personalization via AI tools. Not all tech is created equal. (That’s especially true with certain models’ tendency to create fake information.)
You need a partner in every sense of the word. That’s what we aim to be. And it’s why we’re confident in the Smart Aging™ solutions we are putting forward, such as the new dashboard for residents (Figure 1).
Interested in seeing how Smart Aging™ can lighten administrative workloads and deepen the connections residents have with your community? Book a demo!