By 2040, more than one-fifth of the U.S. population will be 65 or older, compared with just 14.4 percent in 2014. This so-called silver tsunami will present significant challenges to society over the coming decade. It will also present significant opportunities for businesses that figure out how to profitably meet the needs of aging seniors — especially because baby boomers are intent on living as independently as possible, for as long as possible.
Technology will play a central role in extending the ability of seniors to live independently. That’s why CDW is investing in research and partnerships that are helping us become the market leader in digitally enhanced senior living.
Real Insights from the Real World
One way we’re preparing ourselves for market leadership is through pilot projects, such as the one currently underway with Masonic Homes of California. The Masons are committed to taking care of their members as they age, so they operate facilities both for those who have the financial means to pay for assisted living and for the indigent. They’re also a forward-looking organization that’s preparing for the challenge of caring for more seniors within the constraints of limited budget and limited real estate.
Pilots like this are providing CDW with hands-on experience in three key areas:
- Smart homes for seniors: As people age, they may lose hearing, balance and short-term memory. Technology can help compensate for these losses in many ways: doorbells that flash interior lights, mattress sensors that activate lights to the bathroom when a senior gets up in the middle of the night, moisture sensors that trigger an alert if someone leaves a sink or bathtub running. CDW is actively experimenting with all these technologies, as well as specialized tablets that make it easy for seniors to manage their digital living spaces.
- Remote management and analytics: To provide senior clients with the best possible living experience, organizations like Masonic Homes must be able to economically manage the digital environment in each residence, even if that residence is the senior’s own home many miles away. They must gather data from those residences so they can immediately respond to any emergency that threatens a client’s well-being. They also aspire to apply analytics to that data so they can continuously discover ways to optimize the quality and efficiency of their services.
- Secure, reliable infrastructure: As seniors come to depend on smart home technology and associated services, the reliability of underlying computing, network and storage infrastructure will become increasingly critical. The highly personal nature of the data moving across that infrastructure also makes security and regulatory compliance essential. Our senior living pilot programs are helping us create a best-practices blueprint for the specific needs of this market, especially as they relate to mandates such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
Beyond the Technology
Above and beyond the technology itself, CDW’s engagement with senior care providers is helping us to better understand the many nuances of the market. Some seniors, for example, are only too happy to have younger family members actively engaged in their care through digital means, such as being able to remotely confirm that the doors are locked and the windows are closed. Others are much more protective of their personal privacy. The ability to custom-configure smart homes according to these personal preferences, which may change over time, is therefore an important consideration.
The good news is that technology can indeed help seniors maintain more independence — and enjoy a higher quality of life — as a result of these emerging innovations.
To learn more about advances in senior care communities, read “Better Connecting Seniors at Home.”