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3 Innovative Projects Changing How We Age

Technology and information are paving the way for some innovative senior care facilities, designed to provide new methods of care in a comfortable setting. There are plenty of solutions to help make the aging process easier and more pleasant for care providers and senior residents.

Check out these three innovative projects that are changing how we age for the better:

1. The Green House Project
Take traditional, institutional skilled nursing care and flip it on its head: that’s The Green House Project.

The Green House model, in essence, breaks up the traditional 100-bed skilled nursing facility into 10 distinct, 10-bed Green House homes, all of which operate as their own separate entities. These individual “Green Houses” house between 10 and 12 people each, all of whom have private bedrooms and bathrooms. The residents also share an open kitchen, a living room, and have easy access to the outdoors — virtually all of the flexibility they would have living in their own homes, but with a shared roof and services.

To keep with the sense of normalcy, the residents’ caregivers wear street clothes instead of scrubs or uniforms, and are trained to emphasize residents’ autonomy.

Basically, it’s like living at home.

The model has caught on — since the first Green House homes opened in 2003, more than 100 have been built across the country. And as of 2014, the model was home to 1,735 people nationwide, giving rise to a trend that promises to be around for the next age wave.

2. Going Green in Ewing, NJ
Today’s seniors are more environmentally-conscious than their predecessors, and aging experts have caught on.

A 72-unit affordable seniors housing community in Ewing, NJ, has truly embraced “going green” — and it’s helped the community save cash while appealing to today’s senior residents.

Ewing Independent Living, which was built for seniors 55-years-old and older, as well as adults with developmental disabilities, has several “green” features. For instance, the community’s photovoltaic solar panels supplement common space power usage, and provide 25% of the electricity for common spaces during peak months. Talk about efficient!

The community also has Energy Star appliances, recycled carpet, low-E fiberglass windows, low-VOC paints and glues, non-vinyl composition tile and Superior Walls in the foundation and first floor, according to a white paper from Enterprise.

For an aging population that is increasingly concerned with sustainability, Ewing and projects like it promise to bring “going green” into senior housing.

3. Communities Offering Specialized Care
Picture this: an entire pedestrian-friendly town, with apartments, restaurants, a hair salon, a grocery store and a movie theater, filled with busy people going about their days. In the Netherlands, this is the reality for some Alzheimer’s patients.

The innovative memory care community, called Hogewey, or Dementia Village, opened in 2009, and has the capacity for 152 residents with severe Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.

The creators of Dementia Village sought to design a world for memory care patients that resembles normal life as much as possible, all while keeping residents out of danger.

Caregivers, for instance, wear street clothes, not scrubs, and accompany residents as they go about their daily lives. The cashier at the grocery store? She’s a caregiver, too, who will let the residents “buy” whatever they want, without ever exchanging money.

All of the memory care apartments at Hogewey, meanwhile, are decorated to remind their residents of their previous lives. The community’s administrators strive to create different “genres” of apartments, religious, urban, and artistic, with decor that residents will recognize. The hope is that all of these familiarities, and basic routines, will enable residents to live the most normal and comfortable lives possible.

Technology As An Enabler
None of these projects would be possible without the use of technology. All, at their core, are striving to better the lives of people as they age.

The right technology, after all, allows caregivers to spend more one-on-one time with residents, instead of filling out time-consuming paperwork. It also helps facilitate personalized care by documenting preferences, such as having tea at a certain time every day or a dislike for apples, which strengthens relationships with residents for the long-term. Spending time with residents is at the center of both the Green House Project and Dementia Village. And Ewing’s ability to “go green” wouldn’t be possible without tech.

Could an electronic health record (EHR) change your community for the better? Check out our blog on how tech eases the pain by clicking here.

October 18, 2016