The Longevity

Thrive Center Examines Technology’s Role in Senior Living

The Thrive Center, a nonprofit research center and showcase launched in November 2017, has unveiled their first exhibit: a focus on the role technology can play in providing memory support to seniors. The center’s stated mission is to examine the role of technology in senior life, particularly as it applies to senior care facilities, and will house interactive exhibits as well as hosting workshops and providing conference, event, and collaboration spaces. The center aims to advocate for the use of innovative technology in the aging process while serving as a resource for care organizations seeking to incorporate the use of new technologies into their practice.

As visitors immerse themselves in the technologies at the center, they also learn about the importance of IT infrastructure required to power those technologies, [CEO and Executive Director Sheri] Rose says.

“In the back of the Thrive Center, we tell the story of the importance of infrastructure,” says Rose. “If you are building a senior care facility, you need a proper foundation in place — internet access and Wi-Fi capability — so these innovative technologies and smart applications can work. Our data room is called the CDW Technology Enrichment Center, known as the brains of the facility.”

Historically, senior care organizations have been reluctant to invest in technology; their support and donations for the Thrive Center show recognition of the need to provide residents with more tech-enabled environments, says Laurie Orlov, principal analyst of Aging in Place Technology Watch. “There is big pressure for senior living communities to put technology in,” Orlov says. “They need to provide Wi-Fi because people will move in with devices and they’ll want to have access.”

The tech companies currently featured are designed to be useful for seniors in assisted living facilities as well as providing support for caregivers and family of seniors choosing to age in place.

For example, tech startup Piper touts wearables and beacons that family members and senior living facilities can use to track the location of seniors to make sure they don’t wander out of their home or living facility.

A Samsung Smart Home features smart appliances and sensors that show if windows and doors are open, how often seniors open their refrigerator and pantry (to make sure they are eating) and how often they use the bathroom (to make sure they are not dehydrated).

Adult children can log on to a smartphone app and monitor their parents, so they can see their parents’ movements and make sure they didn’t leave the oven on or a window open,” Rose says. Breezie tablets offer an easy-to-use, senior-friendly interface that helps older adults stay connected to their families, and also provides entertainment…

SingFit allows individuals suffering from dementia to sing along with old songs while exercising the mind and body. “The music can stimulate the neurons in their brains as they sing and increase oxygen levels through body movement,” Rose says. “It impacts their mood and allows them to go back in time and say, ‘I remember when that song came out and where I was.’”

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