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The Housing Shift: Part 1

While the majority of seniors hope to age in place, especially given the plethora of services and technologies available to make it easier than ever before to remain safely at home, some people will need or choose to move into a senior living community, whether for companionship, prepared meals, or because one partner needs some assistance. And while the options have broadened in recent years, technology now makes senior living smarter, safer — and customized.

Consider Avanti Senior Living, which offers resort-style living with concierge services. The word Avanti means “forward” in Italian, and the Texas-based company turns on innovation. Along with the expected range of senior living options, from lifestyle to assisted living to memory care, Avanti offers the unexpected, such as an onsite restaurant that prepares individual meals to order, and the “A” crew: a program that allows young friends and visitors, including residents’ grandchildren, to spend time with the seniors, co-creating activities, games, and events that are fun for everyone involved.

Perhaps most importantly, Avanti maintains an up-to-date medical history on each resident, with personal notes available via electronic health care records that can be updated in real-time.

Keeping Seniors Connected

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A Lifespace Community

As we’ve discussed before, the aging Boomer cohort, 76 million strong, is fueling much of this technological foray into ways to enhance the aging experience. Housing, of course, is the foundation of everyone’s future, whether someone chooses to apply for a reverse mortgage loan to help them remain in the house they love, downsize to a more manageable space, or relocate closer to family.

Like Avanti, Lifespace Communities is at the forefront of the senior living movement, focused on CCRC (Continuing Care Retirement Communities) which offer the full array of housing options that may be needed as someone ages.

What’s new is the focus on technology. In 2016, Lifespace expanded its network bandwidth and implemented campus-wide WiFi, so residents can be connected in their apartments as well as in common areas — something unheard of just a few years ago.

Explains Lifespace VP of IT John Coulture, “Only a certain percentage of our residents use mobile devices, but more and more children and grandchildren are getting residents iPads or smartphones as gifts, so we wanted to start to implement technologies to encourage use of these products.” 

Let There Be Light!

For those intent on remaining at home, small techno-tweaks can make a big difference.

We discussed how something as simple as changing light bulbs, easy enough to manage in our younger years, can be potentially life-threatening for an older person if they fall off a ladder. The Office of Chronic Care Advocacy president William Fralin discovered a brilliant workaround you may wish to share with your reverse mortgage clients, prospects, and their families:

“Last weekend I was on a mission to obtain some sort of ‘task lighting’ for a specific area of my house. While perusing the lighting department at one of the local home centers, I came across a package of three puck lights, LED, and…battery-operated. No wiring! Easy to install: you have the option of either an adhesive disk or using screws. Just figure out where you want it and, within a minute, violà!

“How does this factor into aging in place? These little lights can be utilized in an endless list of places that an individual would need a bit more lighting: inside kitchen cabinets, closets, under counters, and cabinets under the kitchen and bathroom sinks. They don’t get hot like some ‘puck’ lighting fixtures do. Most likely the only expense over the years of life for a LED is the cost of batteries, which is less than the cost of one of the bulbs in the other ‘puck’ lights.

“Along with replacing traditional round doorknobs with the lever style, lowering light switches, and reflective tape on outdoor steps…installing these handy lights make aging in place easier and safer for all of us. Your relatives will rest a bit more easily knowing that their loved one is living in a well-ordered environment.”

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