Senior care communities are no doubt familiar with what demographers have called the silver tsunami: Every day between now and 2030, another 10,000 Americans will turn 65. The population is graying like never before, with the baby boomer generation leading the way.
But while this has certainly left senior living organizations scrambling — expanding, for instance, to keep up with demand — physical capacity is not the only concern that has the sector on its toes. Also on the list of pressing issues: the fact that this oncoming wave of new residents will be the first to have aged in a world of apps and smartphones. Tomorrow’s 80-somethings? You can expect them to be exceptionally tech-savvy, and to expect their new homes to be high-tech as well.
Among the industry leaders preparing for this shift is Charles Turner, president of LifeWell Senior Living, which recently joined other organizations in a tech-focused pilot program spearheaded by CDW. The program, Turner says, is exploring whether providers can use wearable devices to help seniors improve health, wellness and overall quality of life. “It’s about finding ways to get information about our residents so that we can ultimately provide better care,” he says.
Seniors who have volunteered to take part in the pilot have been equipped with commercial-grade wristband activity trackers, which sync automatically with tablet computers in their rooms. The devices let providers record and analyze biometric data, as well as track metrics such as sleep quality and physical activity. All of that information is then sent to a server where data science company Big Cloud Analytics (BCA) probes the data for insights providers can use to make decisions about care.
LifeWell, which manages assisted-living communities in Texas and Florida, is using the pilot to investigate two questions: whether “gamification” — or using wearables to create a friendly sense of competition (think Mrs.