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CCRCs and technology centers -- an idea whose time has come

Silver Smart Technology Center -- a storefront in a CCRC.  Recently I had a chance to chat about with Sharon Whalen who works in the Passavant Retirement Community within Lutheran SeniorLife -- a 700-person CCRC in Zelienople, PA. Lutheran SeniorLife's CCRC is comprised of skilled nursing, memory care, personal care (their term for assisted living) and residential living villas and cottages (their term for independent living.) Sharon has just set up the Technology Center there to demonstrate those "assistive devices that residents, staff, family, and other members of the community can touch and get a feel if this is something they want" -- then they can decide whether to purchase on their own.

Showing, not selling.  The storefront is positioned in the 'Main Street' area of Passavant, near the café, gift shop, computer lab, and 'center for creative expression.' Sharon says that technology selection is focused on those tools that are generally low cost, that help with every day living and maintaining independence, or as she says, "adding to an abundant life." First and foremost, the emphasis is on safety she selected tools that help those with vision impairment, which applies to at least a third of the residents that she encounters. Initially the CCRC has purchased these devices, but Sharon is considering applying for a grant to continue to fill the demonstration center with products that would be of benefit to residents.  Here's the initial list (links are to sites I have found, not specifically named by Sharon) -- those at other locations doing likewise are invited to post a comment! 

  1. Make coffee: An interactive coffee maker that recognizes voice from Primula.

  2. Heat food: A talking microwave from CookMagic -- pre-programmed with the 8 most common foods -- selection is via a notched dial

  3. Access and hear TV: A 6-button Doro Remote Control (on-off, channel up-down) and TV Ears

  4. Hear the phone: Clarity XL50 (which is stocked by the maintenance department) to replace the standard phone

  5. Navigate to the bathroom: A motion-activated outlet sensor that can activate a lamp

  6. 'Read' the Bible: True-Speaking Bible, a solar-powered device with all books and verses

  7. Make a shopping list: The Smart Shopper Grocery List -- a big, heavy refrigerator magnet that comes with 25,000 words, enabling an individual to speak 'bananas and bread' for example -- then it prints out the shopping list on a thermal printer

  8. See who's there: A Digital Door Viewer wireless remote monitoring peephole

  9. Prevent fires: A StoveGuard Fire Prevention System

  10. 'Read' a book: The Kindle DX -- Sharon says residents are slowly becoming interested in this -- and it has the larger screen and text-to-speech

  11. What time is it: Low-projection clock -- this can be used to project the time onto the wall or ceiling

  12. Magnify print: Portable Magnifier to help when out and about

In addition, Sharon is looking at SentrySilver GPS units that could be used to set up an individual Geo fence -- which could be the whole campus -- this could send an emergency text message or e-mail, displayable on a Web portal where the viewer could pull up a map, expanding and shrinking as needed. 

Your thoughts?


Hats off to Sharon and her new venture. I think this is an excellent idea and would like to follow it closely. It might work in my community too!

Lauire, Are you following the NPR stories on Aging in Place? There is one today on wired homes to keep tabs on family, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129104664. There was also a tech story on All Things Considered last night, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129260338. They are good stories. The series is a good indicator that our issues are becoming mainstream. www.louistenenbaum.com


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