5 Ways to Improve Senior Quality of Life With Technology

5 Ways to Improve Senior Quality of Life With Technology

Seventy percent of U.S. seniors are now online. Internet-connected devices are a part of their daily lives and they use them to stay informed, connect with family and friends, make travel plans, and more.

Research shows that aging, health issues, and technology will be completely linked in the future. The myths surrounding older adults’ limited adoption and use of technology are being challenged as we speak. One thing is abundantly clear: seniors like technology and are increasingly incorporating digital and voice-activated tech into their lives.

Here are five ways senior living communities can help improve the quality of life for their residents through the use of technology.

1) Wearables

Apple watches, Fitbits, and other Wi-Fi enabled wearables fall under the broader category of the Internet of Things (IoT). Some continuing care retirement communities are using wearables in place of or to complement nurse call systems to signal an emergency. These health-tracking devices make it easy for staff to reliably monitor conditions like blood pressure, heart rate, sleep patterns, and more.

2) IoT Devices

Tablets, TVs, and healthcare smart devices are some of the fastest growing sectors of IoT for seniors. Many of these conveniences serve dual purposes:

  • Smart water bottles monitor how much water a person drinks each day and sends that data to a health-tracking app.
  • Smart thermostats let residents use their phone or tablet to adjust the temperature of the room without having to get up, preventing falls in the middle of the night.
  • Voice-command lights also help prevent falls by increasing visibility.

Seniors also use IoT devices to monitor smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors and track air quality changes.

3) Making Everyday Tasks Easier

Bathroom aids, medication management, and smart kitchen gadget are just a few of the digital devices that make everyday tasks easier for seniors.

  • Wayfinding software guides residents and visitors indoors and out.
  • Hospital-grade fitness equipment keeps residents limber while also diagnosing medical condition, preventing health problems, and tracking physical therapy success.
  • Kindles, Nooks, and other eReading devices offer a huge supply of educational and entertaining books, magazines, and newspapers.
  • AI-enabled personal assistants like Google Home, Amazon’s Alexa, and Microsoft’s Cortana do everything from reminding residents when to take their medications to filling them in on the day’s weather or latest sports news.

Other handy digital helpers include mobile keyless entry, interactive touchscreens for videoconferencing, and streaming services for watching TV and movies or listening to music.

4) Cameras

It isn’t a happy topic, but elder abuse is a real issue for many seniors. It’s estimated that one in 10 adults over the age of 60 faces neglect and/or physical, emotional, sexual, or some other form of abuse. Cameras help families or caretakers make sure seniors are being treated properly. They’re also great for helping healthcare providers track a resident’s movements.

5) Phone Apps

One of the biggest advancements in technology are phone apps that collect important information that can be transmitted to doctors, nurses, or community staff. Simpler apps keep seniors occupied and engaged with fun games, brain teasers, and social media accounts.

Connected devices designed to increase resident happiness and personal satisfaction require a strong Wi-Fi solution that’s reliable 24 hours a day. Medical Grade Wi-Fi® offers 99 percent reliability and is HIPAA compliant. To learn more, contact HealthSignals today.

Senior Organizations: Technology Tools on the Rise

Senior Organizations: Technology Tools on the Rise

As senior living organizations embrace a smart tech approach for their residents, they have no shortage of options to choose from. To succeed, they must understand what their residents most need from them.

From voice-activated personal assistants to movement sensors, all the pieces are in place to create smart home environments in senior living. Doing so can position communities and facilities for future growth and profitability. That’s because the goal of these new technologies is not simply to let providers know what residents are doing. The data collected helps them build a better living experience and makes the staff more efficient and effective.

Seniors, like everyone else, want to maintain as much control over their environment and life as possible. To get there requires much more than automating lights and strapping a tracking device on their wrist.

Telehealth

An innovation that was already becoming more popular has in the age of COVID-19 become an absolute necessity. “Health care at a distance” has taken on a whole new meaning at a time when everyone is being urged to practice physical distancing. A market that was once expected to expand to over $265 billion by 2026, telehealth will now likely see a much faster and bigger expansion. Facilities that haven’t done so yet would be wise to invest in Medical Grade Wi-Fi® to seamlessly accommodate technologies like video conferencing, remote patient monitoring, and “store and forward” secure communications.

Recreational Enjoyment

Interactive screens for gaming purposes, computer classes, and VR headsets are just a few of the modern technologies seniors are embracing. Robotic pets foster meaningful connections through play. And many seniors are mastering the art of Zoom and attending online improv, Tai Chi, and yoga classes. All these innovations are designed to keep seniors socially connected and help them enjoy life to the fullest.

Smart Everything

From the latest digital sidekick, ElliQ, which helps less tech-savvy seniors stay connected, to lighting and keyless entry, smart technology is being integrated into just about every design element. The latest innovations include:

  • Contactless fall detection systems that can be installed in senior community homes and rooms. Automated and accurate, the solution eliminates the need for wearables (which some seniors may forget to put on), cameras, and no buttons that need to be pushed to call for help.
  • Awaiting FDA approval is a toilet seat that can detect heart failure in high-risk patients, measure blood pressure, and check blood oxygenation levels.
  • Amazon’s Alexa is now HIPAA compliant which means a resident’s health data can now be accessed securely.
  • AARP’s Alcove, a new virtual reality product that enables families to keep in touch. Senior living communities are embracing the technology as a way to combat isolation.

Some facilities are also adding digital signage and interactive digital displays, some with Alexa connectivity, to help support physical therapy, make exercising more fun, and keep residents informed of daily activity offerings.

Enhanced Networking Capabilities

To best serve your residents you need sufficient bandwidth that blankets every part of your community, not only common areas. Without sufficient internet speed, security, and affordability, your senior living community can experience multiple audio and video problems.

HealthSignals’ Medical Grade Wi-Fi® offers reliable, secure, campus-wide coverage that ensures your residents can connect whenever and wherever they need to. Our Cellular Boost Solutions delivers continuous drop-free cellular coverage for all the users inside the campus, making technology adoption on-the-go even easier. Contact us to learn more.

 

The Benefits of Wi-Fi as a Service (WaaS)

The Benefits of Wi-Fi as a Service (WaaS)

COVID-19 has made it abundantly clear that Wi-Fi is essential in assisted living and skilled nursing centers. Wi-Fi has been essential to these facilities for years, enabling connectivity for administration and residents alike. However, COVID-19 has illustrated just how important Wi-Fi is in keeping vulnerable communities safe. Medical-grade Wi-Fi®enables video-heavy technologies such as telemedicine and virtual visits with loved ones in the midst of a pandemic.

The Benefits of Wi-Fi as a Service (WaaS)

Campus-wide Wi-Fi has traditionally required significant IT resources and capital investments in hardware. Even then, Wi-Fi networks aren’t always up to the demands of senior living and skilled nursing environments where HIPAA-compliant security is a must and voice, video, and data gobble up resources. Fortunately, Wi-Fi as a Service (WaaS) delivers Medical-grade Wi-Fi across your entire campus without the hassles, expenses, and privacy concerns of traditional deployments.

What is Wi-Fi as a Service?

You’re likely familiar with software as a service (SaaS), which allows you to subscribe to cloud-based software like Microsoft 365, Google G Suite, or SalesForce on a monthly or annual basis rather than buying expensive software licenses. SaaS has proven to be flexible, scalable, and easy on the budget. WaaS works in much the same way.

For example, with Wi-Fi as a Service, you’re not buying the underlying hardware, nor are you responsible for designing, installing, managing, troubleshooting, repairing, replacing, or upgrading it. Instead, the service provider provides everything that is needed to support the level of service that you’ve ordered for as long as the service agreement is in effect.

The Benefits of WaaS

Just like with SaaS, there are a number of benefits to WaaS.

Medical Grade Wi-Fi®

Telemedicine is coming of age in the coronavirus era, but it requires extensive bandwidth and 100 percent compliance with HIPAA. You can’t just hook up an iPad to a hotspot and call it a day! Medical Grade Wi-Fi® is a HIPAA-compliant solution that facilitates encrypted communications with healthcare providers via telemedicine.

Healthcare providers often use video conferencing tools for virtual consultations with their homebound patients. Not only is this taxing on network resources, it requires the secure, encrypted connections and HIPAA compliance to ensure the privacy of protected health information.

As more residents and their doctors embrace mobile healthcare, mHealth devices are likely to proliferate in your facility, each using up bandwidth by sending and receiving data either intermittently or constantly. Medical Grade Wi-Fi® provides the capacity and HIPAA-compliant security you need for video conferencing and mobile healthcare devices such as cloud-based heart monitors, smart thermometers, ingestible sensors, blood pressure monitors, automated insulin delivery devices, and various wearables.

Predictable Wi-Fi Costs

Wi-Fi as a Service shifts the costs of Wi-Fi from a capital expense to a recurring expense. Rather than incurring a large upfront cost for hardware, cabling, site surveys, design, and labor, WaaS is sold as a monthly or annual service based on the number of residential units. You can either use your existing Internet connection or get Internet bundled into the service. Either way, your monthly Wi-Fi costs are predictable. In fact, our future-proof WaaS solution has the lowest total cost of ownership over a five- or seven-year contract.

Since your Wi-Fi costs are broken down by residential units, you can easily communicate the value to your residents who are increasingly expecting Wi-Fi as an amenity—and not just for telehealth, but for VoIP telephone service, streaming movies and television, voice-activated assistants, smartphones, tablets, and video portals that let them interact with their loved ones face to face via live streaming video.

Reduced IT Support Costs

Because Wi-Fi as a Service is owned by the service provider and delivered as a service rather than a finished installation, it’s also supported by the service provider. This reduces your IT support costs. Since many facilities lack full-time IT staff members, when a minor issue does arrive, it’s often ignored until it escalates into a much larger problem, resulting in higher IT costs to fix it.

With Wi-Fi as a Service, it’s no longer necessary to pay an external IT tech to maintain the system or troubleshoot issues nor will you need to worry about being sold additional services or hardware you don’t necessarily need. As your Wi-Fi as a Service provider, we handle all maintenance, troubleshooting, repairs, warranty work, and other issues affecting your service. HealthSignals offers the only Technology and Performance Guarantee among Wi-Fi providers.

Improved Resident Satisfaction

Seniors, patients, and their families increasingly expect robust Wi-Fi throughout senior living and skilled nursing facilities. Pre-COVID-19, they wanted to be able to stay connected via FaceTime and similar services in between in-person visits. The pandemic only heightened this desire as visits became impossible. Likewise, telehealth is becoming more prevalent. Being able to participate in virtual consults is more than just a convenience, it reduces the patient’s exposure to viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens in healthcare settings and can reduce unnecessary trips to the emergency room.

Robust Wi-Fi services with full coverage throughout the facility can help improve the overall senior living experience for residents and their families, resulting in improved satisfaction.

WaaS as a Profit Center

Another benefit to Wi-Fi as a Service is that you can offer upgraded Wi-Fi to residents who want a more robust solution than the traditional phone and cable TV package. Some facilities may choose to include Wi-Fi in the rent while others may want to make it an optional upgrade. It’s up to you to choose how to bill for it, but with our low, predictable costs per residential unit, you can see there’s room to make a small profit while still providing your residents with an exceptional value.

Worry-Free Wi-Fi

We often refer to WaaS as “worry-free Wi-Fi” for several reasons:

  • Capital expenses won’t keep you up at night.
  • Advanced HIPAA-compliant security and encryption keep your system in compliance.
  • Our Technology and Performance Guarantee keeps your system running at the highest levels.
  • Your residents and staff enjoy 99% reliability.
  • No matter where you are in the building, you have wall-to-wall coverage.
  • High capacity for vital devices.
  • Future proof solution that’s ready for the challenges of today and tomorrow.

Not having to deal with technology is a huge benefit of Wi-Fi as a Service, allowing you to focus on your mission of service to your residents and patients. HealthSignals’ Wi-Fi as a Service is about as worry free as you can get. Learn more at HealthSignals.net.

New Healthcare Technology Funding: Does Your Center Qualify for the FCC COVID-19 Telehealth Program?

New Healthcare Technology Funding: Does Your Center Qualify for the FCC COVID-19 Telehealth Program?

The pressures of COVID-19 are forcing us to rely on telehealth now more than ever. Companies and care facilities of all kinds have had to adapt their practices to support new telehealth solutions, but many of these solutions are costly and out of reach for struggling facilities.

To help, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently adopted a $200 million COVID-19 Telehealth Program to aid healthcare facilities in providing better telehealth services to their patients.

Who’s Eligible?

The program is open to non-profit and public healthcare providers who meet certain criteria defined in the 1996 Telecommunications Act. Generally, funding will be available to the following facilities:

  • Not-for-profit hospitals and health clinics
  • Local health departments
  • Senior living centers and community health centers
  • Rural and non-rural health clinics
  • Skilled nursing facilities

Note that this is not an exhaustive list, and all non-profit or public healthcare clinics are welcome to apply to the program. However, all applicants will need to receive an eligibility assessment from the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) before being accepted.

Which Services and Devices Are Covered?

The program will help providers pay for devices and services that are necessary for providing remote health services to patients in response to the COVID-19 outbreak such as:

  • Health monitoring tools such as pulse oximeters
  • Information and connectivity services, including Medical Grade Wi-Fi and voice services
  • Connected devices, including tablets and smartphones that enable connected care at home

All devices must be digitally-connected and integral to patient care to be considered.

Can I Improve My Odds of Getting Approved?

Although the FCC will make the final call on all applications, they’ll be using certain criteria to assess each applicant’s needs:

  • Local conditions and severity of COVID-19 impacts in the region
  • The amount of funding allocated for vulnerable or high-risk patients
  • The goals, objectives, and timeline of each applicant’s funding strategy
  • The geographic size of each region and its existing healthcare infrastructure

Overall, these regulations are designed to ensure that support is given to the areas hit hardest by the pandemic, as well as to facilities that require telehealth services to protect high-risk patients.

How Does Reimbursement Work?

Note that the COVID-19 Telehealth Program isn’t a grant. Applicants accepted to the program will need to provide invoices and other documentation for each of the products or services that they purchase. In addition, they may need to adhere to other FCC reporting requirements as noted in the program guidelines.

How Do I Start?

Healthcare facilities interested in the reimbursement program can’t afford to wait. Here’s a quick rundown of what you need to get started:

If you’re a senior living facility who needs help navigating your application, contact us at HealthSignals and we’ll be happy to walk you through the details.

The Updated Maslow’s Pyramid: How Your CCRC Needs to Respond.

The Updated Maslow’s Pyramid: How Your CCRC Needs to Respond.

Updated Maslow's Pyramid.Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a psychological theory outlining what we, as human beings, need to survive and thrive. For those unfamiliar with it, the model is structured as a pyramid. Our most pressing needs are the pyramid’s base, involving our physiological needs: food, water, shelter, etc. As the pyramid climbs, we reach more psychological needs: accomplishment, creativity, and so on.

It’s a popular model for understanding human needs, but here’s the problem. The theory was developed by Abraham Maslow all the way back in 1943—well before the advent of tech like home computers, smartphones, or Wi-Fi. And while these gadgets might just seem like novelties, for certain populations–like continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs)—this access can save lives.

Updating Maslow: Access to Services

It’s a little tongue-in-cheek to lump Wi-Fi in there with food and water, but jokes aside, there’s a strong case for updating Maslow’s Hierarchy with access to essential tech services—particularly for CCRCs.

Senior living facilities are powered by technology. Research by Pew found that a full 67% of seniors use the internet these days, and over 51% of seniors have high-speed internet at home. And should these seniors move into assisted living facilities, you can bet that they’ll expect the same quality of life as they’re accustomed to.

And really, why wouldn’t they? They’ll still need to keep in touch with friends and family over FaceTime or Skype, and they will still need access to all of the entertainment they enjoy at home. These used to be luxuries, but today, they are essential services that every connected CCRC should offer.

This connectivity is important from a resident satisfaction standpoint, but just as important are the ways that connected facilities support better resident care. When you consider the value of connected medical facilities, it’s not a stretch at all to imagine connectivity’s place in Maslow’s Hierarchy.

Supporting Physician/Resident Relationships

Medical Grade Wi-Fi® plays a powerful role in telemedicine and the physician/resident relationship.

In one survey of U.S. physicians, 93% of those who used telemedicine applications agreed that it helped improve patient access to care, and 77% agreed that the applications helped both patient and provider better manage their time.

With the right communications tool behind them, CCRCs can ensure that their residents enjoy the benefits of high-speed internet while enabling new types of physician outreach. For example, the fast transfers offered by fiber optic Wi-Fi makes it easy for residents to call their physicians, video conference, receive/transmit medical imagery, share files, and more.

Through this approach, CCRCs can differentiate themselves (and increase occupancy rates) by positioning themselves as enhanced facilities offering a higher standard of care.

Future-Proofing With Quality Care

Telemedicine is the way the world is moving, and patients of all ages are taking advantage. CCRCs are no exception. Facility owners should take a look at their current infrastructure and what Wi-Fi enabled services they offer. We’re willing to bet there’s some room for new services—and these services may completely change the way you deliver care.

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Medical-grade Wi-Fi for Continuing Care Retirement Communities and Long-Term Post-Acute Care Facilities

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