The Internet of Things (IoT) has made it an exciting time to be alive. From the homes and cities we live in, to the hotels we stay in while travelling, IoT offers us more comfort, more convenience, and more efficiency throughout our daily lives and routines.
And the comfort, convenience, and efficiency that IoT offers isn’t limited only to tech-savvy xennials, millennials, or even gen-xers. Indeed, the seamless connectivity of IoT means that its improving the quality of life of all generations, and it’s seniors who stand to gain the most from the real-time, interactive potential of IoT living.
Specifically, IoT enabled senior living communities not only offer their residents improved comfort and care, but also allow operators and staff to achieve cost-savings and collect actionable data on residents and infrastructure. Indeed, from operations to resident care, IoT is helping to completely reinvent senior living.
Reducing operational costs both increases the profitability of a senior living community and frees up resources that can contribute toward the care and well-being of residents. And IoT is helping senior living community operators manage their operational costs on two level: energy management and predictive maintenance.
And there are two main ways senior living communities are reducing operational costs with IoT technology: energy management and predictive maintenance.
Energy Management: Smart HVAC
Climate control is a fixed overhead head cost in senior living communities. Indeed, it is key to providing a comfortable and safe resident experience. And IoT is helping senior resident operators monitor, manage, and reduce their heating and air conditioning costs.
Specifically, occupancy sensors and smart thermostats allow property managers to monitor and respond to fluctuations in room occupancy. And smart energy management systems like Verdant EI employ sophisticated machine learning AI to analyze historical thermodynamics, local weather patterns, and peak demand loads to optimize energy consumption in real-time, all year round. Indeed, the hotel industry has also embraced smart energy management for its cost saving potential.
Furthermore, IoT smart energy management systems offer remote management features so that property managers can monitor HVAC output and ensure that the facility is running at peak efficiency. This includes HVAC diagnostic alerts when the system isn’t running properly.
Of course, it’s important to note that not all smart energy management systems are created equal. Specifically, residential smart thermostats don’t have the ability to manage commercial property occupancy patterns over a large group of rooms. Commercial energy management systems like Verdant’s monitor each room for motion and body heat, and use that data to ensure that rooms are providing the best possible resident experience while maximizing energy efficiency.
Energy Management: Smart Lighting
There’s a lot more to smart energy management systems than just HVAC. As with climate control, lighting is a significant energy cost for a commercial property, such as a senior living community. And as with climate control, being able to (1) understand lighting energy needs, (2) automate consumption, and (3) react to changes in resident occupancy patterns is paramount to curbing unnecessary and costly energy consumption.
Smart lighting systems include occupancy sensors and time-based lighting schemes to curb superfluous energy consumption, and also adjust the intensity of lights according to time of day, providing a seamlessly comfortable, safe, and convenient experience for senior residents.
Verdant’s smart thermostats can integrate with external third party lighting systems to ensure that lights turn on/off according to whether a room is occupied or not.
Maintenance costs can be a major cost (pain point) for any senior resident operator. And maintenance, in general, if overlooked, can lead not only to negative resident experiences, but inflated repair costs (or interruptive incidents) down the line.
And just as smart IoT energy management systems allow property managers to monitor, track, and optimize energy consumption, predictive maintenance allows them to use sensor data to identify wasteful or hazardous trends and alert maintenance staff before a given issue escalates into a much more costly one.
For example, perhaps an HVAC system isn’t performing within normal parameters. A smart energy management system can alert maintenance staff so that the malfunction can be fixed while your residents are not in their room. The problem gets solved before residents even recognize it, and the property manager avoids incurring exorbitant repair costs.
Senior resident operators can also use sensor data to create maintenance schedules based on real-time usage data — instead of an ad hoc guestimated maintenance schedule. And the result is that property managers save money while residents enjoy a much more comfortable experience.
Resident Care & Experience
To focus more on the resident experience, there are a lot of available IoT technologies that are aimed specifically at the experience of residents in senior communities and assisted care facilities. Here, we’ll look at reducing labor costs by streamlining resident experience and increasing revenue by monitoring and predicting resident care.
Safety & Health Monitoring
The care of your residents is obviously job one, and there are now IoT technologies that help you to monitor patients from almost anywhere in real time.
As an example, MimoCare is an assistive technology device that reports on residential activity. Care providers can get updates on unusual bed occupancy, repeated bathroom visits, and more.
To better monitor nighttime activity and ensure the restfulness of residents, accelerometers can be attached to beds. These devices recognize when a resident has gotten out of bed and come back, or just left the bed and not gone back to bed. Consequently, senior facility operators can use these data points to ensure that they’re attending to residents when they require attention.
Other wearable technologies can report on vitals, and make sure that emergency responders are alerted to any anomalies detected. And these wearables don’t have to be unsightly. Some of these are built into watches, jewelry, or even belt clips.
Tech like this goes a long way towards helping staff keep track of the location of residents both inside and outside of buildings. And when connected to IoT tech, these wearables can help with automated lighting and temperature control to help increase resident safety and comfort.
Resident Activity Monitoring
At this point, IoT technology has progressed so far that caregivers can measure activity levels, oxygen levels, heart rate, blood pressure, and even bone density. And because almost 15% of the population of the United States is over 65 years old, technology that measures senior activity is becoming more prevalent and more powerful every day.
This tech helps to notify caregivers and seniors when they need to give their knees a rest or take a drink of water, which helps to cut down on the time that caregivers need to spend on the smaller details of senior care.
One of the great losses associated with growing older is often the loss off community. Friends have passed on or moved away. Children and other family members are off living their lives. And studies have shown that this loss of community can have an impact on health.
The same study notes that people with higher levels of social capital are, for example, more likely to get screened for health issues when recommended, which contributes to earlier diagnoses. High levels of social interaction means greater health.
There are now IoT devices that can increase socialization. Things like communication apps for smartwatches, companion robots, telehealth systems for consultations, and even health monitoring devices that send alerts to caregivers and family members all increase a sense of community and inclusivity.
Keeping track of new developments
As IoT becomes more ubiquitous, more tech is available to senior communities and assisted living facilities that both increase resident satisfaction and decrease operational costs. Indeed, it’s the key to property managers staying informed and keeping up to date with resident needs and occupancy patterns.
At the end of the day, though, it’s all about being able to provide higher levels of care for seniors, while making sure that property managers can deliver on that commitment while operating a facility that’s botn energy- and cost-efficient.