The Beginner’s Guide to Remaining in Your Home While Aging

That day is coming. The day when our Peter Pan philosophy can carry on no more. Others age but we don’t, right? It is time to face the reality that aging is something happening to us all and we must plan accordingly. Some people associate getting older with retirement communities and loss of independence.  But do we really need to leave our homes? The answer is no. Not if you take time to familiarize yourself with the tools and concepts available to you today.

“Universal design” is a concept quickly becoming embraced among homeowners of varying ages. The idea is to start making simple modifications now to your home, enabling you to remain in your home when your daily lifestyle needs and routines change. The article “Universal Design for Every Age and Stage of Life” states the best time to think about integrating universal design principles and features..is “before a life change or emergency happens.”

UD #2

Statements like this make it all the more important to start being proactive with your future home modifications. SimplyHome is taking steps by participating in the Livable Homes Project with AARP and the Universal Design Institute. Richard Duncan, Executive Director of UDI says the concept is more than adding custom features to a home. The changes need to be packed to look good and work well. He took the time to answer our questions about universal design and explain a few things we should know.

 UD #2

5 Things You Should Know about Universal Design

  1. Where do you start? Before making any changes to your home, the absolute first place to start is with an honest assessment of your home and your needs. Ask yourself, Is this the right home for me to age in? For example, should the need arise, would you be able to move your bedroom from the second floor to the first floor in this particular house?

  2. The Three Main Areas.  The three main areas to focus on in your home are the entrance, bathrooms and kitchen. Making entrance changes are the most simple and the best first move. You can start by adding handrails to the stair cases and improving lighting. A good question to ask yourself with the entrance is, Are the hallways and doorways wide enough to fit equipment through?  After the entrance, some basic bathroom changes could include having  curbless showers, adding a bench for a place to sit and having a handheld showerhead.

  3. Common Misconception. When you think of an added shower handrail to help accessibility, it’s easy to imagine it as an eyesore, a bulky feature completely out of place with the interior of your home. But universal design is more than custom features. It’s the entire package of adding an element that helps your daily needs, but also fits the style of your home. For example, a handrail can also double as a towel rack.

  4. Get the right advice. The first mistake many individuals make when implementing universal design is hiring someone with expertise in one room, rather than understanding the functionality of the house altogether. For example, advice should come from someone with an architectural or interior design background. Someone with home-design experience, who can understand your needs as they will change and envision how your home can grow with you.

  5. There’s Higher Functionality with Technology.  SimplyHome technology is, “A wonderful addition to keeping people safe and  independent in their homes,” says Richard. The higher functionality you have to begin with, the more effective the custom changes. Using SimplyHome technology helps you to avoid limitations with the changes you implement down the road. You want as many options as possible. SimplyHome environmental controls help you to adjust lighting in various locations of your home from a single location – a tablet. SimplyHome door, window and stove sensors, medication management, fall detection, and telehealth services, cover all your needs to remain in your home.

 

Want to learn specific ways customized solutions can help you? Get A Free Assessment From SimplyHome

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SimplyHome Newsletter, December 2016: Innovating all the way!

 

It’s been a year full of exciting changes at SimplyHome!

From welcoming awesome new staff to being recognized as a top company to work for; from innovating with smart home pilot programs to saving money for individuals, states, and providers; from new technology grants to new puppies in the office…

It’s been a year to be thankful for!

Click here to read the SimplyHome year-in-review newsletter for 2016.

 

 

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5 Senior Living Community Trends for 2017

5 senior living community trends

 

Can technology bridge the gap between all levels of care for people as they age? Recent trends in senior living communities are transforming care models, opening the door to more options.  

600 senior living organizations from 15 states were surveyed by Mather LifeWays Institute on Aging to identify the top senior living community trends for 2017.

Trend #1: Technology will be key to sustaining independent lifestyles among senior living residents.

  • SimplyHome technology encourages and empowers an independent lifestyle through wireless systems by utilizing sensors. As a family member, you and care staff can receive call, text or email alerts from anywhere when a problem is detected. Family visits and phone calls can focus on what matters most — quality time. Motion, door and window sensors help prevent wandering concerns; stove and cabinet sensors can promote cooking safety and healthy nutrition; chair/bed pressure pads can unobtrusively monitor sleep and behavior patterns. Medication management, fall detection and telehealth are also available for care management.

Trend #2: Senior living providers will expand services “beyond” their four walls to provide important social connection programs to older adults living in their own homes, including adult day care programs, services to the homebound and in-home care services.

  • The independence SimplyHome technology establishes increases the list of social activities individuals can partake in. The SimplyHome model of natural supports (alerts via text message, phone call and email) connects individuals to their family, friends and neighbors, as well as to staff at community living facilities.

Trend #3: Long-term care is being transformed to support person-directed care and meaningful relationships. Senior residences are beginning to adopt smaller, home-like environments.

  • Technology enables families and providers to focus on where people want to live. SimplyHome’s person-centered approach is about creating customized solutions that are based on the individual’s needs. What are your daily needs? What is your daily routine? How can we maximize your independence? These are all questions we ask when implementing technology to help an individual remain in their home. Getting the answers to these questions also builds a foundation for relationships in the community and with care staff.

Trend #4: Language, perceptions and attitudes of care providers must be updated to reflect changing older adults’ needs and expectations. This might include changing the model of an “activity director” to that of a “life coach,” which focuses on working with customers who have higher, more self-actualizing expectations.

  • When technology is implemented into a residence, SimplyHome assists care staff to further understand the specific needs of your loved one. We stress to providers the importance of knowing what options are available and allowing people to make the choice of how they want to live. The technology is a way to support their choice.

Trend #5: Above all, consumers want choice and value. Older adults are demanding more choices, control, a redefinition of what community means, and convenience within and outside of the community. This includes financing options, customized programs, and access to on-demand services and engaging activities.

  • Customers with SimplyHome choose how they want to live. The technology in place lets individuals choose life on their terms. 24/7 Customer Service support provides care staff and family with peace of mind, knowing they will be notified if a change in a behavioral pattern occurs.

Canva Quote
This video shows how one woman’s grandfather was able to maintain his choice for independence through technology.

You can view the full article’s findings here.

Start Your Free Assessment with SimplyHome

 

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Monarch Pilot Program: Smarter Homes, Greater Independence

PILOT PROGRAM TAKES OFF

SimplyHome is pleased to share technology success stories from our providers across the U.S. and other countries. Today we are featuring two stories of individuals who receive services through Monarch, a nonprofit that supports thousands of North Carolinians who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, mental illness, and substance use disorders.

Monarch began a pilot project in 2015, seeking to enhance independence for 46 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and mental illness living in eight homes in three North Carolina counties. The project combines SimplyHome’s wireless smart home technology with adaptive home modifications to create healthier, safer living environments where residents can have greater control of their daily activities.

You can read the full article in Monarch’s Reaching Dreams Fall/Winter 2016 Newsletter (the stories below are excerpts, used with permission, from that newsletter).

 

INDEPENDENCE THROUGH RESPONSIBILITY

For individuals like Crissy Fiolek, the installation of smart home technology like motion-sensor and iPad-controlled lighting, medication dispensers, panic pendants, an induction stove, temperature-controlled faucets and other features, has had a significant impact.

 

Monarch SmartHome 1

Pictured (l-r): Joann and Crissy, residents of one of Monarch’s smart homes, settle in for an evening at home after locking the front door and setting the alarm using an iPad and smart home technology.

For example, before the smart home technology was installed, Fiolek needed to be reminded three or four times a day by staff to take her medication. She needed assistance in taking the right dosage at the right time. As part of this project, Fiolek received a medication dispenser. The dispenser reminds her when to take her medication and safely provides the correct dosage for her. If she does not take it within a predetermined period, the dispenser accesses the wireless home system and alerts staff she may need assistance.

After just three months, Fiolek rarely has to be reminded to take her medication. She is now more independent when it comes to managing her medication and has more confidence and higher self-esteem as a result.

 

RESPONSIBILITY THROUGH INDEPENDENCE

With the help of smart home technology, Melvin Burton has taken greater advantage of his unsupervised time in the home. Many of the high-functioning people Monarch supports have unsupervised time, where they are able to stay by themselves in the home without staff for short periods.

Unsupervised time increases independence and fosters a sense of personal responsibility and self-reliance, but many residents are afraid to use it because they fear they will need staff and be unable to contact them. With this project, Burton now wears a wrist pendant which is set to alert staff if he presses the button and needs support during his unsupervised time.

 

Monarch Smart Home 2

Melvin shows off his wrist pendant, which is set to alert staff when he presses the button and needs their support.

 

Monarch continues to evaluate the success of this pilot project and hopes to expand it to other homes across the state. The Smart Home Project was developed in partnership with Trillium Health Resources and was made possible with generous support from The Harold H. Bate Foundation, the CarolinaEast Foundation, and many other donors.

 

About Monarch:

Monarch is a nonprofit organization that supports thousands of people statewide with intellectual and developmental disabilities, mental illness, and substance use disorders.

 

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