While no one knows for sure what the senior living industry will look like in the future, we know that change is inevitable. Technological innovations combined with millions of baby boomers who want something other than the current senior living options are driving these changes. How the senior living industry will look 30, 20 or even just 10 years from now is hard to know for sure. Yet, if we look at the technology trends already changing the senior living industry we can start to get a pretty good image of what the future holds. I recently examined some of these trends and the drivers behind them in a session for Brookdale’s Optimum Life Continuing Education Series. These pre-recorded webcasts provide 1.0 CE credit (one hour) per session for nurses, social workers, case managers and nursing home administrators. Here’s a synopsis for those interested in the tech side of senior living.
Baby Boomers Ask for More
Due to the sheer size of the baby boomer generation and their heavy use of technology, this generation is steering the future of senior living. Boomers are preparing for the next stage of life very differently than their parents and grandparents. In fact many boomers don’t plan on retiring at age 65. The way they save money, spend money and make money are greatly impacting attitudes toward aging. This is the generation that grew up watching the “space race.” They’ve seen their work and personal lives changed by technology and expect that retirement will change as well. Research presented by Dr. Steven A Schroeder in The New England Journal of Medicine is also pointing towards social, environmental and behavioral factors as playing a much higher role in a person’s health than medications, diagnosis and interventions. This is why senior living can be such a good idea. We help address and support the factors that can lead to longer life spans.
The Tech Changing Us
Some predict the future of senior living may soon revolve around technological advancements that enable medical professionals to monitor our health in real time. Tracking devices and sensors play a large role in this vision of the future. Many of the things you see are already a reality, from wearables and monitoring devices to artificial intelligence and machine learning that can offer us strong predictive and monitoring power. Wearable devices that track our steps and heart rate make it easier to measure our health. As these devices become more advanced we could see a broader use that leads to reduced hospital stays, decreases in healthcare provider work load and increased reliability. Wearable drug delivery devices can lead to passive, painless drug intake, reduced dosing errors and improved bioavailability.
Passive monitoring, like cameras and sensors placed in homes or senior living communities, can be used for improved communication, task management and socialization. Asynchronous digital collaboration, which involves the collection of medical records and reports, will lead to more personalized and faster service. Trends are pointing towards virtual doctor visits, where wearable devices and help us make informed decisions based on computer analysis of medical records.
It’s easier to collaborate now than ever before, and collaboration is critical in the senior care industry. This will become even more and more critical as baby boomers become the primary customers of senior living.