Every day, nearly 10,000 baby boomers retire, according to the Social Security Administration, and that number isn’t expected to drop with future generations. Some projections predict that the 65-and-older population will reach a whopping 98 million by 2060.
Unfortunately, technology is often an afterthought when it comes to caring for this growing population. Sure, communities such as Houston-based LifeWell Senior Living, Benchmark Senior Living in Waltham, Mass. and Masonic Homes of California have piloted wearables, sensors and other smart tools for older populations. But those organizations are the exception to tech use in the senior care industry, not the rule.
The Thrive Innovation Center, which opened in Louisville, Ky., on Nov. 1, hopes to change that narrative by promoting technology as integral to healthy aging.
A Chance to Further Comfortable, Realistic Innovation
As the official technology sponsor for the new center, CDW Healthcare and its partners — including Intel; Lenovo; Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company; Humanscale; Samsung; and Ergotron — have built out Thrive’s IT infrastructure. The center is a place where state-of-the-art, yet practical technology from those and other providers is not only showcased, but is also available for testing on the spot. CDW Healthcare also worked with Thrive Center to identify additional sponsors who donated their time, expertise and offerings, including a wearables station and therapeutic solutions.
User experience and necessity are especially key to the center’s offerings; if we as an industry want increased and widespread adoption of innovative tools, we can’t scare off potential users with confusing futuristic ideas they’d never consider. Rather, we must provide realistic innovation options that create a sense of comfort.
The center also represents a fixture for the senior care and long-term care industries. While conferences and industry events are good for networking with peers and experts, the impact of such meetings oftentimes is short-lived as participants and attendees must quickly adjust back to their everyday lives and duties. The Thrive Center, on the other hand, is permanent. Visitors can continue to come back and get a feel for technologies they potentially will deploy.
Seeking Support for Senior Tech from All Sides
Attending Thrive’s ribbon-cutting ceremony on Oct. 19, I was impressed by the center’s support from the local community and healthcare and technology stakeholders. Several wellness and aging care companies already call Louisville home; I believe the Thrive Innovation Center will fit right in.
As senior care evolves, much of the industry’s transformation will focus on meeting individuals on their terms. Communities must increasingly embrace the notion that technology needs to be part of that equation.
It’s clear from the response to the Thrive Center’s opening so far that we’re on the right track. Now we must keep the momentum going to ensure a bright future for the retirees of today and tomorrow.