Senior Care Technology Round-Up: Virtual Dementia Tour, Social Media University & More

| June 18, 2013

Tech companies nationwide continue developing innovative designs with a focus on senior care technology. Whether it’s a virtual reality program simulating what it’s like living with dementia, or a rollout of touch-screen apps to keep residents “in the loop” of community happenings, there is a technology to meet a variety of care needs. Read on:

1. Senior Star Takes Virtual Dementia Tour on the Road

With Senior Star at Weber Place’s Virtual Dementia Tour, users can experience the reality of what it’s like living with Alzheimer’s. 

One of the largest operating free-standing memory care communities in the state of Illinois, Senior Star at Weber is now taking its Virtual Dementia Tour (VDT) on the road. 

Through the VDT tool, the Senior Star at Weber Place team is educating caregivers, medical professionals, caseworkers and family members of the critical needs of those who are living with Alzheimer’s.

The 15-minute program uses tools and activities to depict what it’s like for someone living with a form of dementia. Participants are asked to perform tasks in an altered state whereby the VDT artificially impairs the senses affecting the ability to interpret the environment. 

Participants reacting to the impaired sensory input lead to behaviors such as wandering, talking to oneself and not following instructions—behaviors often seen in dementia. 

Lead by expert Anna Walters, director of memory care at Senior Star at Weber Place and certified to conduct the VDT, the program creates a realistic scenario utilizing a home-like environment and activities of daily living.

The program also includes a question and answer session focusing on how to cope with Alzheimer’s patients and recognize some of the early signs.

 “We are providing the VDT for hospitals and other health care providers, businesses and civic groups,” said Michelle Franzak, executive director of Senior Star at Weber Place. “It has been very helpful in understanding this terrible disease and how to cope and care for those suffering from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.”

2. Dakim BrainFitness Yields Improved Cognitive Skills

The results of a peer-reviewed clinical trial of Dakim BrainFitness, conducted by the UCLA Semel Institute, found that participants showed significant improvement in memory and language skills.

Additionally, researchers proposed that brain fitness tools such as Dakim BrainFitness may help protect individuals from cognitive decline commonly associated with aging and Alzheimer’s disease. 

The Dakim BrainFitness System is designed with a kiosk-style console that uses a touch-screen to provide a fully personalized workout that can help maintain brain fitness and slow the effects of cognitive decline. 

The program enables users to cross-train their brains to achieve peak mental functioning by touching on six essential cognitive domains. These include short-term memory; long-term memory; language; computation; visuospatial orientation; and critical thinking skills. 

Dakim BrainFitness is the only evidence-based cognition program approved by the U.S. Administration on Aging, enabling Area Agencies on Aging to use Title III, Part D funds for disease prevention and health promotion, to purchase Dakim for the seniors they serve.

The technology is used at more adult living communities than any other mental fitness program, and is now being used by healthcare professionals and rehabilitation centers in Texas, Washington, California, Kentucky and Minnesota.

3. Touchtown Apps Roll Out in Denver Retirement Community

The first wave of tablets with the new Touchtown Resident Apps is arriving at senior living communities and residents are quickly learning how to use the new technology.

Among those receiving the Touchtown tech are all 167 independent living residents at Clermont Park, a Denver retirement community. 

Touchtown Resident Apps provides a platform for seniors to stay connected through event sign-ups, daily check-ins instant messages, transportation requests, dining information and housekeeping services. The apps’ interface includes large icons and text, navigation, scrolling ability and a text-to-speech feature.

“It’s a communication tool that helps improve the quality of life for residents at senior living communities,” says Jeff Pepper, president and CEO of Touchtown. “And for organizations, Touchtown Resident Apps can be integrated with workflow or point-of-sale systems to help streamline operations.”

Touchtown offers more than 20 apps for senior living communities to choose from, each customizable on a community and individual level. Additional apps range from health and wellness resources to directories to a variety of interactive communication and information-sharing tools. 

“We’re already seeing how the apps allow for better and more personalized communication with residents,” says Jill Vitale-Aussem, executive director of Clermont Park. “It promotes interaction, gives residents an added sense of freedom, and also safety and security.”

From making reservations at the community restaurant or signing up for an exercise class, residents will be able to say “There’s an app for that.”

4. State Healthcare Association Streamlines Wellness Tech for Seniors

Linked Senior, Inc. and the Health Care Association of New Jersey (HCANJ) have announced a partnership to provide technology to enhance the quality of life for residents of New Jersey nursing homes and assisted living communities. 

The agreement will allow member facilities of HCANJ to purchase Linked Senior programming, specifically designed for seniors, at a reduced rate.

Linked Senior Inc. uses technology to support programming & wellness, opens communities to the world while helping management improve resident and family satisfaction, productivity and efficiencies. 

The system also includes a touch screen kiosk and content tailored for seniors with features including games, puzzles, custom slideshows, brain fitness and educational content. 

“Linked Senior’s approach will allow the individuals who reside in our long term care facilities the opportunity to enjoy programs tailored to their varied levels of health and abilities,” said Paul R. Langevin, president of HCANJ. “The methodology employed in their product will enhance out members’ ability to provide a more person-centered experience for all their residents.”

Headquartered in Washington, D.C., Linked Senior Inc. is a leading provider of resident engagement solutions to the senior housing market.

5. Health System’s Technology Solution Reduces SNF Length of Stay

Virginia-based Centra Health has selected HealthMEDX to provide technology to manage patient care across all post-acute care settings, as well as enable the exchange of patient information across Centra Health’s entire acute-care continuum, including hospitals, physician offices, pharmacies and labs. 

Through Centra’s cardiac program, where a specially-trained cardiac nurse manages care for cardiac patients in SNFs using specialized care pathways, Centra has reduced patient length of stay from 4.52 days in 2006 to 3.85 days in 2012. 

Based on this success, Centra is developing similar programs for orthopedics and piloting Emergency Room Diversion Protocols to keep patients out of the ER. 

“With HealthMEDX’s long-term post-acute care EMR and connectivity platform, we will be able to enhance the quality of care across all settings and continue our evolution as a technology leader,” said John Paul Jones, M.D., chief medical information officer of Centra Health.

HealthMEDX is the only vendor that provides an integrated, person-centric system that includes a full electronic medical record and comprehensive billing system with integrated CRM. 

The product, known as Vision, supports the entree post-acute care continuum, including rehab, home care, hospice and long-term care for independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing. 

The HealthMEDX Exchange platform, with its system as a software design, allows post-acute care providers to connect with hospitals, physicians and payers to address readmission management and facilitate coordination across the care continuum.

6. Social Tech Teaches Seniors about Preventative Health

Preventative health has a whole new meaning at the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center (EBNHC) for people ages 55 and older. 

Through its Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), members have the opportunity to become computer savvy through ConnectedLiving, a Quincy, Massachusetts-based company.

ConnectedLiving has developed a web-based social platform designed specifically for the senior living industry, servicing all segments of the market, including private pay and affordable senior living communities.

The partnership with PACE includes an additional focus on preventative health information, further encouraging seniors to learn about technology in a stimulating and social way. 

“What’s different about this relationship is not only teaching computer and Internet skills to members through exciting topics of interest, but to use ConnectedLiving in the future for preventative health education,” said Anna Hall, vice president of ConnectedLiving University. “Empowering seniors to be informed has proven value to their overall well-being.”

Recently, the company launched its ConnectedLiving University with online tools and resources for seniors and senior living communities that promote lifelong learning.

The ConnectedLiving Network, from which the University program is accessed, is a cloud-based social network tailored for seniors. The platform includes an easy-to-navigate interface providing secure Internet access, email, photos, a library, games and video chat.

In addition to online content for seniors, the program also provides extensive training for senior living community staff. The training curriculum was developed with an understanding of the needs of older adults and their caregivers. 

Written by Jason Oliva


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Category: Senior Care, Senior Housing, Senior Living, Technology

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