Photo courtesy of Avanti Senior Living
Often heard today among senior living providers: “It’s not your grandmother’s senior living community.” As residents’ demands rise with the times, providers are upping their services and amenities to meet them.
The push goes well beyond “tech savvy” to include services that cater to health and wellness, transportation and, resident engagement.
Here are four modern-day services and amenities that are bringing senior living well into the 21st century.
Community charging stations for wireless devices. Many senior living communities have adopted tablets and other handheld devices for wireless connectivity and to improve care coordination. One new senior living operator that broke ground this year is gearing up for a tech wave among its residents, and it’s taking cues from public places such as airports, with the introduction of charging stations throughout its new communities.
Avanti Senior Living, which broke ground on its first community in the Dallas area this fall, is incorporating the charging stations right into the wi-fi-enabled communities’ designs.
The charging stations will be equipped with plugs that will charge Apple products, Androids, tablets, laptop computers and more. The stations will be placed in resident lounges, employee lounges, the main lobby, the wellness center and across other destinations community-wide.
“Technology, accessible through mobile devices, has become intertwined in everyday living. People have come to rely on their mobile devices for a variety of purposes, such as GPS, staying in touch with family and friends, work, research, online shopping and more. It is the worst feeling when you know your battery is about to die, and you cannot find a place to charge it,” says Avanti’s chief operating officer, Lori Alford.
Residents will also have use of Avanti’s proprietary technology via tablets that will be given to them upon moving in. In addition, employees will have mobile devices to access electronic healthcare records and other information.
“Incorporating charging stations into the design of our communities is a simple design element, but will save much stress and provide comfort,” Alford says.
Workout-to-Go. Most senior living communities have fitness centers, some with state-of-the-art equipment, olympic pools and personal trainers on-site. But at Chicago’s The Clare continuing care retirement community, residents can still maintain their health and wellness routines even while they are traveling. This is made possible through a Workout-to-Go program rolled out by The Clare this year.
The program, developed by the urban CCRC’s athletic club director, creates custom workout plans for residents who are traveling, taking into consideration their fitness level, interests, destination and transportation methods.
“There are residents who are really dedicated to fitness, and work out regularly,” says Melissa Cusick, director of The Clare Athletic Club. “I wanted to make sure that they had the opportunity to maintain their routine, or some variation of it, while they’re traveling the four corners of the world.”
One resident, who typically uses the fitness center on-site three times a week, recently took advantage of the program when she took a cruise around Alaska. With a routine designed by Cusick, stretchy travel bands in her suitcase and photos of the exercises in the routine, the resident was able to maintain her exercise even while on the ship.
“[The resident’s] granddaughter who was traveling with her, exercised with her. They worked out together and had a buddy system. They had a blast with it,” Cusick says.
Electric car hook-ups. The rise of electric and hybrid cars in the U.S. is marked by a slow and steady increase. In June 2014, there were nearly 40,000 hybrids sold in the U.S., and more than 6,000 electric or plug-in vehicles sold, according to a monthly tally by HybridCars.com and Baum & Associates.
While the percentage of adopters of electric vehicles is still relatively small, one senior living community is prepared: It now has an on-site electric car-charging station.
Erickson Living’s Oak Crest community in Parkville, Maryland, lays claim to the charging station, installed this summer after a resident moved in to the continuing care community along with his Toyota Prius.
“Being on the cutting edge of technology is important in serving our current residents and attracting new customers to our campus,” says Gary Hibbs, executive director of Oak Crest.
Man Caves. What started as a men’s club in Atria’s Woodbridge senior living community in Irvine, Calif., quickly became the “Man Cave” on campus.
The space serves as a place for male residents to gather and work on wood crafts, gadgets and other activities. The Man Cave was spearheaded by a resident and the community management several years ago to give its male residents a place to socialize and work on projects from model planes to robot-building.
After one resident had set up a station in his apartment and later requested some of the common space to spread out his work, the management decided to create the space for others to join.
“It started very small,” says Engage Life Director Jessica Houk in describing the launch of the Man Cave via YouTube.
Soon, more men joined the group and began congregating. Women were welcomed too.
“Just because it’s called the ‘Man Cave,’ doesn’t mean women aren’t included,” Houk says.
Written by Elizabeth Ecker