Practical Uses of AI and Echo Devices for Seniors

As the baby boomer generation prepares to enter retirement, both the healthcare industry and senior living communities around the nation are beginning to prepare for the dramatic increase in demand of these services. According to the World Health Organization, the number of people aged 60 years or older will increase from 12% to 22% by 2050. This influx in the senior population will demand an increase in healthcare providers and staff, such as caregivers and personal care attendants. Many senior care facilities are already experiencing a demand in healthcare providers exceeding supply by nearly 10%. To reduce the gap in supply, many industry experts are developing artificial intelligence (AI) technologies that will provide care for seniors in various ways.

Artificial intelligence refers to any theory or development of computer systems designed to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as decision-making and speech recognition. Given the increase in adults aged 65 and over, healthcare providers are beginning to utilize AI technologies to track patient information, diagnose diseases, and help treat patients more efficiently. Forbes magazine recently investigated new AI technologies that are being utilized by the healthcare industry for the treatment and care of the elderly. Here are a few ways AI is beginning to change the way we care for seniors.

AI Uses in Healthcare

Home Health Monitoring– New developments in AI are allowing patients to receive care from healthcare providers without making a trip to the doctor’s office. Companies like Careangel are making this possible by offering virtual doctor’s visits through voice-based virtual assistants. In addition, wearable devices can detect changes in activity and behavior patterns that could forecast a health issue to be addressed early. IBM researchers are developing technologies that mirror the care of a private nurse through movement sensors in hallways, flush detectors in toilets, and bed sensors for sleep monitoring.

Smart device assisted fall detection

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls are the leading cause of injury and death in older adults. To combat this issue, AI devices are being developed to detect falls and fall risks. Starkey has developed a fall detector within its hearing aid, while other companies are developing sensors within smart phone devices that will detect falls and alert emergency services.

Virtual Companions

As baby boomers age, most will require additional care. With the demand of healthcare providers exceeding supply, AI is being developed to close the gap. Robotic helpers will be able to provide daily assistance and companionship. Some robots, like Catalina Health’s Mabu, are conversational robots that can collect data to help with diagnosis and treatment. Intuition Robotics have developed ElliQ, which can hold conversations while also reminding patients to take their medications and lead physical activities to promote physical and emotional wellbeing.

Anti-aging research

Not only will AI technologies work to meet the needs of seniors, but it will also allow researchers and scientists to collect data needed for the development of anti-aging products. AI is assisting with research being conducted about the biological process of aging and how the food we eat impacts our ability to age well.

While artificial intelligence is being used by healthcare industry professionals and researchers to help change the process of aging, it’s also being widely utilized in the home. Virtual personal assistants, like Amazon’s Echo, are becoming increasingly popular for older adults because of their many benefits from physical health to entertainment.

Practical Uses of Echo Devices

While new technology can be intimidating for some, many older adults are starting to rely on virtual personal assistants to help complete basic daily tasks. These devices are user friendly and especially helpful for seniors with low vision or hearing loss. From checking the weather to reminding you to take medication, Amazon’s Echo can help ease the aging process in many ways.

Play music

Recent research suggests that listening to music can actually improve brain-processing speed in older adults. Additional research suggests that music can help provoke memories for those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia. Now, with virtual personal assistants becoming a common household item, music can be played just by giving your device a simple command.

Keep track of lists

Managing daily tasks can be difficult for anyone, especially for those experiencing age-related memory loss. The Amazon Echo makes creating a to-do list simple and organized. The Echo has the ability to categorize different lists, such as a grocery list or a to-do list. You can recall, edit, or mark completed items on your list by giving your device a command.

Alert emergency services

Your virtual personal assistance can be connected to your smart phone and enabled to make phone calls by accessing your contacts. The Ask My Buddy skill allows your phone to send alerts to chosen contacts on command. In the event of a fall or injury and without access to your cell phone, you can command your Echo to call your specified “buddies.” Echo can’t make direct 911 calls, but with the help of an additional device, Echo Connect, your virtual personal assistant will be able to contact emergency services directly.

Manage your calendar

The Echo gives you the ability to organize your week and day by managing your calendar. You can add appointments and activities to your calendar by giving a simple command like, “Add an event to my calendar.” Your device also has the ability to remind you what is on your schedule for the day.

Set reminders

You can use your Echo to set medication reminders, which can be helpful if you have trouble remembering to take them or if you have several medications. You can choose which day and time to receive your alert. In addition, you can program other alerts into your device, such as feeding your dog or watering your plants.

Entertainment

Your echo isn’t only for practical everyday use, it can also be used for fun. You can play trivia games and stream audiobooks and podcasts. Echo can even guide you in simple exercises by adding skills such as EngAGE or 7-minute Workout.

At Maplewood Senior Living, we know the great benefits that can come with utilizing innovative technology. Virtual personal assistants can be set up for residents to learn about upcoming activities, play music, ask questions, and seek help when needed. To learn more about our offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us here.

Seniors Staying Connected Through Technology Use

Learn how seniors reap the benefits that come with technology use.

Technology is integrated in every part of our lives, from entertainment and news to healthcare and socialization. In fact, technology is so ingrained into our daily lives that seniors who don’t engage in social technology actually run the risk of feeling isolated. However, more and more seniors are beginning to reap the benefits that come with using technology. According to a survey by the Pew Center Research Center on older adults and their use of technology, nearly 60% of older adults go online regularly, and 80% have cell phones.

 Organizations such as the Community Technology Network are beginning to evaluate why older adults choose to use technology and what they find interesting.  Their findings report that many older adults research travel, education, and entertainment, but one of their biggest interests is staying connected to family. As older adults begin to explore using technology as a way to stay connected to their family and friends, these smart phone apps have proven to be helpful.

Apps for Seniors to Stay Connected to Family and Friends

Skype– Designed for both the iPhone and Android, this service allows people to make voice and video calls for free or at a limited cost, depending on location. Instead of talking on the phone to your grandchild who lives in another state, Skype allows you to use the video on your smart phone to have a conversation that feels like you are in the same room.

FaceTime– This application is very similar to Skype, but for iPhone users only. In fact, iPhone users can find this application already installed on their phone and ready to use.

Tapestry– Similar to Facebook, this application allows users to share messages and photos and videos with their families without advertisements or interruptions.

WhatsApp– If you have a family member or friend who lives or travels outside of the country, WhatsApp is a great way to stay connected. Using the phone to call long distance can be extremely expensive. However, WhatsApp users are able to use wireless Internet or data to send messages, share photos, video chat, and voice call without any cost.

While many seniors use technology to stay connected to family and friends, there are other ways to benefit from using a smart phone. As we age, daily exercise is just as important to our health as socializing and connection. However, most adults don’t get their daily dose of movement. In fact, according to a study published by the US National Library of Medicine, nearly 67% of the older population remains sedentary for more than 8.5 hours daily. Exercise has been proven to help with arthritis, decrease the risk of heart disease and depression, and improve our quality of life. Fortunately, improvements in technology have made it possible to track our exercise habits and can even make exercising fun.

Exercise and Fitness Apps for Seniors

MyFitnessPal– If you’re interested in making health and fitness a priority for your lifestyle, this app is for you. You can track calories by logging your meals, and keep track of daily exercise and water intake. MyFitnessPal even offers a wide variety of healthy recipes and articles related to health and wellness. The best part of this application is that it is completely free. Of course, you can upgrade for a monthly fee to access more information and offerings.

Yoga Studio– Yoga is a great exercise for older adults, especially because it can help improve balance and flexibility which decreases the risk of falling and helps speed up recovery in the event of an injury. Yoga Studio offers more than 100 yoga videos and meditation from five to 60 minutes long. You can also search classes by ability, focus, and intensity. If you are new to yoga or are just beginning to exercise, make sure you clear it with your doctor first.

SilverSneakers Go– Your favorite exercise class is now available in the comfort of your own home. You can choose from four to 12 week programs focused on strength, walking, and flexibility that can be tailored to your own fitness level. This app is great to use in the winter when it can be difficult to make it to class.

7 Minute Chi– Just like yoga, tai chi can help improve balance and decrease your risk of falling. This app will guide you through each movement and even remind you when (and how) to breathe along with your movements. With just 7 minutes a day, tai chi can help you improve your strength and flexibility.

Flip50– Flip50 is more than just an app. It’s a complete lifestyle guide designed specifically for adults 50 and older. Once you answer a few questions about your current health habits, the app will produce a weekly schedule to help you plan out your meals, exercise, and moments of relaxation. The best part? AARP members can access Flip50 for a discounted price.

While physical activity is an extremely important part of a healthy lifestyle, especially for older adults, mental health should also be a priority. As we age, our cognitive function can become delayed, causing a lapse in memory, or longer information recall. That’s why those in the tech world created online games to improve and sharpen our cognitive skills. The next time you use your phone, try one of these online games to keep your mind sharp.

Apps for Seniors for Mental Alertness and Entertainment

Sudoku– Sudoku is a number puzzle game designed for a single player and is now offered online through its own app. Instead of watching TV in the evening or during down time, try playing Sudoku to keep your mind active.

Grandparent Games– This app was specifically designed to keep grandparents and grandchildren connected through games. Grandparent Games offers a variety of programs that can be filtered by age or interest. This app also uses video and voice connection to you feel close to your grandchild no matter where they live.

AARP Online Games– AARP offers a library of different games designed to strengthen cognitive skills. From chess and card games to puzzles and number challenges, AARP really does have it all.

Technology Use at Maplewood Senior Living

Our Maplewood Senior Living communities are helping residents become more technologically savvy in a variety of ways. Using a variety of apps and digital experiences, unique to Maplewood, residents at every level of care participate in activities and exercise their cognitive skills.

Digital Interactive Programming
From digital interactive education to therapeutic programs to challenging virtual puzzles, our digital programming provides engagement for residents at all levels of cognition.

Live Stream Learning Programs
Residents can enjoy live, interactive educational and entertainment programs being conducted all over the country—from museums to national parks to botanical gardens.

Mobile App
With instant access to community information and a private social network to talk to friends, family, and staff, residents can easily connect with the world around them.

Technology doesn’t have to be intimidating, but we know it can feel that way. Many organizations, such as your local library or Apple store, offer free classes that teach you how to use different technologies like the smart phone or tablet. If you’re interested in learning more about our efforts, please contact us here. We’d love to talk to you about the exciting things happening at our facilities.

Maplewood Senior Living Walks to End Alzheimer’s

What You Should Know about Alzheimer’s Disease

The month of September is designated as World’s Alzheimer’s Month. Alzheimer’s disease isn’t just a national problem, it’s a global issue that affects nearly 44 million people worldwide. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s is a memory disease, under the umbrella of dementia, which causes problems with memory, thinking, and behavior. As symptoms worsen, Alzheimer’s can ultimately affect a person’s ability to complete basic human tasks like speaking and eating.  The number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is expected to rapidly increase in the next 30 years— from 5.8 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s today to 14 million by 2050. As the threat of the Alzheimer’s epidemic increases, so do campaigns that spread awareness and raise funds devoted to finding a cure. The first step in spreading awareness of Alzheimer’s is to educate people on the causes of the disease.

Contributing Causes of Alzheimer’s Disease

While it would be impossible to identify just one cause of Alzheimer’s, researchers and scientists do believe there are a few leading causes of the disease. Some of the causes and factors can’t necessarily be changed, but some of them, like lifestyle and environment, can help inform our daily lives and decrease our chances of being diagnosed. Listed below are the associated causes and risk factors of Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Age

While most people with Alzheimer’s get diagnosed after the age of 65, 10% of patients are diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s between the ages of 30 and 60. Age isn’t directly correlated with the disease, however the risk of being diagnosed doubles every five years after the age of 65.

Family History and Genetics

Adults who have immediate family members with Alzheimer’s disease are more at risk for being diagnosed than compared with families without a history of the disease. Researchers and scientists believe that the risk increases with each family member who has the disease. The reason behind this can possibly be attributed to genetics and environment.

According to the National Institute on Aging, researchers haven’t identified a specific gene known to cause the disease. However, many experts believe that those who carry a form of the APOE gene are more at risk of developing the disease than those who do not.

Environment and Lifestyle

Those who study Alzheimer’s believe there is a connection between the brain and the heart, which can ultimately influence the risk of developing the disease. This means that those who experience high-blood pressure, stroke, high cholesterol, or heart disease should be aware of the symptoms of the disease and consult with their healthcare provider. Eating a well-balanced diet and exercising daily will decrease your risk of heart disease, ultimately decreasing the risk of Alzheimer’s.

Brain health is also a factor when it comes to developing Alzheimer’s. Falls and brain trauma are also known to be underlying factors to the disease. Protecting your brain by wearing your seatbelt and decluttering your home to decrease your risk of falling, can help protect you from Alzheimer’s dementia.

Continue reading “Maplewood Senior Living Walks to End Alzheimer’s”

Tech Savvy Seniors – Part 2

At Maplewood Senior Living, we focus on connection, engagement and cultural enrichment opportunities for our residents. We don’t believe our residents should ever stop experiencing their favorite activities, whether or not they’re still able to travel.

One way we provide opportunities is through the use of Virtual Reality or VR, which connects our residents with their families, hometowns and the rest of the world around them. To learn more about how we use VR in our communities, click here.

Another exciting way we offer cultural enrichment activities is through participating in the Live Living Network. This unique network was designed for adult communities as a way to participate in live, interactive programming. Maplewood Senior Living’s Center for Aging Innovation and Technology was a founding partner of this incredible opportunity for residents.

Why Live Living?

Far beyond watching television, this network allows our residents to engage in a variety of cultural activities. Research has shown that this essential social interaction promotes health and quality of life, especially in older adults. And yet, it can be a challenge for residents who aren’t able to travel as easily as they once did. It also accommodates residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia, who might otherwise be left out of such an important enriching experience.

How Does it Work?

It starts with streaming an activity. Whether it’s an interview with an author or a trip to Cultural Centers, National Parks, Aquariums or Museums around the world, it’s brought into our communities using high-speed internet and a computer display. Some residents may be revisiting museums they used to love, others may be seeing it for the first time. Either way, their experience is interactive and engaging.

After the visit, our communities can participate in discussion groups or supplemental skill-building classes. For residents at our Strawberry Hill community in Connecticut for example, a visit to a master chef’s kitchen can be followed up with an onsite trip to our kitchen, where residents can touch and feel the ingredients they discussed earlier.

What’s the Result?

The Live Living Network is reinventing what it means to be active. Both physically, mentally and emotionally, we’re seeing residents participate in a new and exciting way. The opportunity to “travel” virtually improves our resident’s quality of life, through engagement with the Network and subsequently, each other. We also know through research that continued education and an engaged curiosity increases overall health and memory care.

So why is creating learning opportunities so important at all ages? Consider the following article from: gettingsmart.com. Authors Caroline Vander Ark & Mary Ryerse share “10 Reasons for Lifelong Learning”, read below:

10 Reasons for Lifelong Learning

Regardless of which seems most compelling to you, there are lots of reasons for lifelong learning, along with resources and tips to support you on your journey.

  1. Skill Up (Functionality).At home and at work, in order to function effectively day-to-day amidst a rapidly changing world, we need to learn new things. Period. Whether it be learning to use a new phone, a new app, or a new process at work, building skills is a constant in an ever-changing world.
  2. Purpose and Path. One term that has been used over the past couple decades when addressing purpose and path is “college and career readiness.” As groups like the School Superintendents Association (AASA) have taken another look at what readiness means, they’ve expanded readiness to include the concept of life ready.

This concept of “life readiness” refers to the development of perseverance, a growth mindset (at its core, a belief that we can all continue to learn and grow throughout our lives) and other social-emotional skills. Likewise, college and career readiness guru David Conley and the team at EPIC Education Policy Improvement Center have added lifelong learning as a must

3. Passions and Life Satisfaction. Pursuing passions and interests outside of work (where you might have already done a lot of learning, or feel saturated) is important. Check out more through the Generation Do-it-Yourself (Gen-DIY) campaign, which focuses on how this generation is creating new pathways through education into careers they love.

4. Employability. Today, the average person changes jobs ten to fifteen times during their career. Some cite even higher numbers. Both learners and learning providers are adapting accordingly. University Ventures also speaks to the important role of local entities including community colleges to focus on job placement.

5. Economic Imperative.  Technological change demands stronger and more continuous connections between education and employment.

6. Leadership. Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who has mastered industries as diverse as software, energy, transportation and aerospace, shares 3 “secrets” that power his leadership:

1.Become an ‘expert-generalist’

2. Improve your ‘learning transfer’ skills, and

3. View knowledge as a ‘semantic tree.’

7. Transferability. Consistent with Musk’s perspective and AASA’s emphasis on college, career and life readiness, College Spark Washington—a private foundation supporting education initiatives such as the College Readiness Initiative—has invested in impacting life opportunities for young people. Program Officer Heather Gingerich says, “We’ve gotten way more interested in how effective instructional strategies help students become ‘learners’ in ways that extend beyond any one particular class or point in time.”

8. Social Awareness and Perspective. In order to truly empathize with others, increase social awareness and build relationships, we must intentionally seek out ideas that differ from our own. This is critical not only to the health of individual relationships, but also the health of society.

9. Practicality. We live in an era where you can fix pretty much anything in your home by watching a YouTube video. This anytime, anywhere learning has created a DIY culture that allows people interested in everything from home improvements to crafting to cooking to learn practical skills that they may have otherwise hired out for.

10. Longevity. We’ve all heard the stories of people who have actively learned their entire lives living longer. Health research has pointed to lifelong learning as one of the best ways for seniors to stay healthy. An active mind throughout your life has been proven to help you live longer and healthier.

To see the Live Living Network or other learning initiatives in action for our residents, we encourage you to visit one of our Maplewood Senior Living communities. To schedule a tour, click here, or visit us at www.maplewoodseniorliving.com.

Tech Savvy Seniors

The use of technology has grown tremendously among the senior population in recent years.  More and more seniors are using smart phones, tablets and computers to stay informed, connect with others and even shop.

According to widely known Eden Alternative, common concerns amongst our elder population have been that they become bored, lonely and have a general feeling of helplessness. Advances in technology have provided many avenues to combat these issues have proven to be a true blessing for many senior community residents.

Maplewood Senior Living prides itself in staying ahead of the curve when it comes to technology. We recently sat down with Brian Geyser, Chief Clinical Officer, for Maplewood Senior Living. Brian leads our resident care programs, population health and technology initiatives.

Here, Brian answers some questions about how technology is used at Maplewood Senior Living.

Q: How does Maplewood Senior Living use technology to improve the lives of residents?

A: Our entire suite of tech products are specifically designed to make our residents lives more enjoyable. Residents have easy access to information, entertainment, care and opportunities to engage through the use of technology.

Q: What types of technology are included in this “suite of products”?

A: Our products include everything from virtual reality to hearing amplification products to high-tech fall risk sensors to educational tools. With this combination, we’ve achieved our purpose: to keep our residents safe, healthy and happy.

Q: Where will residents interact with technology?

A: The simple answer is: everywhere. Residents utilize technology to call for assistance throughout the community. Residents with hearing impairments are able to use noise-canceling headsets to improve programming experiences and social experiences. Virtual reality is used within the program schedule to treat our residents to excursions around the globe, to give them the opportunities to “interact” with animals, and to see and learn new things. New technology is always being added. We never stop searching for new ways to engage and assist our residents, and in this day and age, the possibilities are endless.

Q: How do your technology efforts keep the residents socially active?

A: Social engagement is one of the elements that forms the foundation of our life enrichment and wellness programs, and it’s critical for the overall health and happiness of our residents. That includes our VR Global Travel program and our virtual reality experiences, which will allow our residents travel the world (virtually) without ever leaving home. And our digital interactive programming and live stream learning programs support engagement with a variety of interactive shows and activities.

  Continue reading “Tech Savvy Seniors”

Overcoming Hearing Loss with Technology

Engagement plays an essential role in our quality of life, whether it’s one-on-one or in larger settings. However, with aging, this may become harder to do as the ability to hear and see diminishes. Hearing loss and impairment affects millions of Americans, with estimates as high as 30% of adults over 65, and a dramatic 70% of adults 85 and up are affected.

Hearing impairment impacts overall health significantly. Imagine trying to participate in your favorite activity without the ability to hear. You would suddenly feel disoriented as you tried to understand what others were saying. Even following simple instructions for an activity would become difficult. This limitation could easily cause embarrassment and confusion. Which means soon, you might stop participating all together, leading to an emotional disconnection and eventually, isolation. The tendency to withdraw when faced with hearing impairment can quickly lead to a decline in an individual’s overall physical and emotional health.

Recently, the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society published information from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) that looked at 2,000 adults aged 50 and older. They found those who began using hearing aids to combat hearing loss experienced a decline of cognitive deterioration by 75%. These staggering numbers lead some to believe that adults who may have been diagnosed with dementia could, in fact, be dealing with hearing loss. Fortunately, as technology grows, so does the opportunity to overcome these limitations.

One such advancement we use at Maplewood Senior Living is Eversound. Eversound is a unique headphone system that connects directly to any audio source, while at the same time minimizing exterior noise that can be distracting or confusing.

Continue reading “Overcoming Hearing Loss with Technology”

Virtual Reality & Its Benefits

By now, you’ve likely heard the term “virtual reality” (or VR for short), but if you haven’t experienced it yourself, it may be difficult to understand. Virtual reality incorporates the use of goggles, which display an image or video that appears to be real. Users can choose to move and look around, just like they were at the destination, enjoying the sights and sounds in a fully immersive 3D experience.

At Maplewood Senior Living, we use this technology across our communities and have seen great benefits for all our residents, especially those with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. The Rendever platform was designed specifically for the senior population and invites them to recall familiar times by visiting virtual places or allows residents to experience new adventures.

Continue reading “Virtual Reality & Its Benefits”

Will Airbags Prevent Hip Fractures in Older Adults?

Preventing falls in seniors is very complex, and it’s a BIG problem. Every year, 2.8 million older adults in the U.S. end up in the emergency department with fall related injuries. One in four seniors who experience a hip fracture die within a year. ActiveProtective is one of many companies around the globe trying to solve this problem. Check out their airbag technology now being testing in senior living communities.

Watch the video here.

 

Aging Innovation Resources

Innovation in aging tech, senior care and longevity science is happening across the globe, but it’s not always easy to find out what’s new and what’s next in the space. One of the best places to look is Aging2.0. This rapidly growing international community of aging innovators is on the cutting edge. Through its Leaders Circle, AllianceEvents, and Local Chapters, Aging2.0 is creating a global movement to improve the lives of older adults and transform the way we care for aging populations.

As an example, check out their Snapshot of Global Innovation in Aging and Senior Care. For 2018, Aging2.0 has identified eight priorities where innovation will have the greatest impact:

A2 Challenges

Aging2.0 is challenging big thinkers around the world to create solutions in these categories and the results of these “Grand Challenges” will be on display at the Optimize Conference in November 2018.

Maplewood Senior Living is proud to be an Aging2.0 Alliance member and is working to advance innovation in many of the Grand Challenges categories. More to come on that in future posts.

Here are some additional links to add to your resource list. Enjoy! 

Brian Geyser is VP of Clinical Innovation & Population Health at Maplewood Senior Living and serves as the Aging2.0 Local New Haven, Connecticut Chapter Ambassador. Connect on LinkedIn

Featured image provided by Eversound

Virtual Reality and Senior Living: Can VR Find a Home with Older Adults?

Virtual Reality (VR) technology has advanced significantly in recent years. If you haven’t experienced it yet, it’s definitely worth a go. When we discovered that a small startup out of MIT called Rendever created a VR platform for senior living communities, I had to check it out. Fast forward about four months and we’re now rolling out Rendever VR to all of our communities. Why? I’ll let the video speak for itself.

Continue reading “Virtual Reality and Senior Living: Can VR Find a Home with Older Adults?”