Today we welcome Jerry Grove, CEO and President of ESCO Technologies, LLC to discuss improvements and innovations in modern memory care.
Humans have an incredible ability to adapt, whether out of necessity or pure intent. Take the field of medicine, for example. Medical bionics is teaming with examples of adaptations made to overcome such obstacles as limb loss and paralysis. Today, technology is enabling us to create opportunity and outrun labels associated with disability, such as loss of mobility.
Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are life-changing diagnoses that force many people to adapt. In 2015, the number of Americans age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease is estimated at 5.1 million. By 2025, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease is estimated to reach 7.1 million. The numbers are disheartening. 1 in 3 seniors die with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Perhaps most unfortunate of all is that among the top ten causes of death in America, Alzheimer’s is the only one that cannot be prevented or cured.
Adapting to the disease is, for now, the best we can do. These adaptations are happening on multiple levels—from caregivers coping with loved ones who are fading away cognitively to dementia patients themselves who, at early onset of the disease, struggle with a gradual, but certain loss of freedom and control.
Of all these concerns, ensuring the safety of those living with memory decline takes priority. Senior living executives overseeing memory care communities have a huge task ahead of them. Not only do they have to be sure their memory care practices, including technology and procedures, are kept up-to-date, they are looking for ways to integrate streamlined solutions to ensure a healthy bottom line.
The following are some top concepts senior living executives are taking on to adapt to the increasing safety needs of residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia and improve memory care practices.
Creating More Desirable and Functional Living Spaces
Memory care environments once worked within a medical model that, for safety reasons, tended to confine and over-manage residents. This eventually moved to a social model of care that allowed residents both privacy and room to roam. This model didn’t, of course, leave safety concerns behind. It simply took a more hands-off approach of caring for residents through intuitive technology and strategically planned design to offer freedom and reinforce resident dignity.
Years later, this social model is still prominent, and best practices for memory care design have emerged. Expert memory care providers now give added focus to both a resident’s actual safety and how safe they perceive themselves to be.
In addition, evolving housing designs help create a safer senior living environment for residents with memory decline. Design upgrades include appropriate lighting levels for aging eyes, walking paths that are continuous and loop back to building entrances, glare-free, natural lighting, and easy-to-clean, durable flooring.
The Role of Wireless Devices
Wireless technology has changed the world, senior living environments included. Though many established communities have yet to optimize their infrastructure for wireless, those who have are experiencing great shifts in safety and operational efficiency.
Wireless wander management tools now exist to provide memory care residents with ample freedom while both maximizing their safety and ensuring staff can efficiently access residents regardless of their location, inside or outside of the community. Discrete wearables for residents are part of many memory care practices, equipping staff with intelligence on residents’ whereabouts without the need to hover or hold them back from enjoying a quiet walk outdoors, engaging with other seniors or participating in social activities. Wireless nurse call systems are also advantageous within memory care communities as a way to interconnect residents, caregivers and technology systems from anywhere, on almost any device.
Finally, memory care communities optimized for wireless are better prepared to offer dementia and Alzheimer’s residents increased opportunities for engagement. In some memory care communities, residents have access to brain-boosting apps on tablets and senior TVs, while other campuses use wireless to easily integrate music therapy into their everyday program.
On the horizon for memory care are scientifically-supported apps to help medical professionals aid in understanding memory loss and next-level technologies like wearable cameras with facial recognition capabilities that could provide dementia residents with a person’s names as they approach.
When it comes to implementing modern memory care tools for senior living communities, up-to-date housing design and wireless technology systems are vehicles poised and primed to help senior and assisted living communities improve memory care safety across the board.
About the Author
As CEO and President of ESCO Technologies, LLC, Jerry Grove guides his company as the leading nationwide provider of modern technology and amenities for seniors and the senior housing industry. He helps senior living communities streamline their communication and entertainment technology while providing the opportunity to generate additional income.
ESCO Technologies delivers the ultimate telecommunications solution for seniors, including senior TV service, telephone service and high-speed Internet for seniors as well as life safety technology such as wireless call systems. ESCO Technologies’ exclusive CareConnect managed program not only improves resident satisfaction, but can also produce internal revenue streams for senior living communities.