Technology is increasingly becoming a part of our everyday lives, and Maple Knoll Communities, a non-profit continuing care retirement community, is leveraging it to help keep residents in their communities feeling safe, stimulated and healthy. The goal is to use technology to support independent living, especially as so many baby boomers continue to reach retirement age.
Boomers, on average about 10,000 new ones per day, first began celebrating their 65th birthdays on January 1, 2011. That accelerated pace will continue through 2030. However, there is a projected shortage of physicians trained to care for those boomers. With 170 years of experience serving older adults, Maple Knoll is ahead of the curve on this issue — and is looking to technology as a solution.
Maple Knoll knows that retirement looks different to boomers than previous generations, so they’re working to create an environment where residents can age more independently. That includes aging in a familiar setting that integrates technology to keep them comfortable at home for as long as possible.
Last year, Maple Knoll partnered with Cincinnati-based RoundTower Technologies to focus on improving care. RoundTower specializes in delivering solutions and services in areas such as data center infrastructure, cybersecurity, cloud automation and DevOps, big data, analytics and IoT — “internet of things” — ecosystems, like the one they are building at Maple Knoll. IoT creates healthier, safer home environments — and it’s the type of innovative continuum of care service that’s become synonymous with Maple Knoll.
Together, Maple Knoll and RoundTower also created a Knowledge Bar and ServUS lab that’s open to residents on a regular basis. Think of it as a friendly, neighborhood “genius bar” catered to Maple Knoll residents, where they can stop by to take classes on how they can use Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant device or test-drive an Apple Watch before buying one. They can also learn more about smart home technology. Maple Knoll knows that today’s seniors are more tech-savvy than ever and eager to embrace things that make life easier.
The ServUS lab and resource center are designed to introduce residents to new technology and help them find new ways to integrate devices into their daily lives. Residents can also arrange to have new devices and technological services set up in their homes.
For example, in a “smart apartment” at Maple Knoll, the IoT system links with sensors placed throughout the home. If a resident gets out of bed in the middle of the night, lights on the floor would come on, to reduce the risk of falling and highlight potential hazards. Blinds can be set up to adjust automatically, as can lights and even appliances. Smoke detectors, motion sensors, doorway sensors and more — all carefully selected with the expert input of the RoundTower team — are linked to the IoT system.
Metrics and feedback from sensors along with wearable devices get delivered to a single dashboard, allowing caregivers to track residents’ health — and spot changes in behavior or well-being early on. Caregivers can see numerous metrics in one convenient place, including glucose levels, body temperature, food intake, sleep habits, bathroom habits, daily steps, location and heart rate, to quickly see the whole picture of someone’s health. The hope is that health issues can be detected earlier, before hospitalization or long-term care would be required.
The ultimate goal of this new technology is to help residents live healthier, happier lives in a setting they feel most comfortable with. Maple Knoll believes that this could greatly improve residents’ quality of life while reducing an increasing cost on the health-care system. The ServUs lab is part of their effort to stay ahead of this problem, with a dedicated space where new concepts and prototypes of sensors and systems can come to life.
The new space brings together residents, staff, local university students and technology providers in an incubator that not only brings new technology-driven solutions to Maple Knoll residents, but also has the potential to create new standards in the industry and bring new products and services to the market.