Wireless technology, home health expected to grow in seniors care and housing, survey finds

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Many states are already implementing online Medicare enrollment.
Many states are already implementing online Medicare enrollment.
Operators of senior living communities believe that "smart home" technology and wireless connectivity will help to attract residents within the next five years. Other specialty areas predicted to boom include home health services, wellness programs, providing Web-based education and building smaller and/or "green" facilities, according to a new survey of 107 senior living organization in 13 states.

"It will not be business as usual for senior living communities in the years ahead. Senior living operators will need to identify their 'niche,'" said Linda Hollinger-Smith, vice president, Mather LifeWays Institute on Aging, which released survey results this week. Respondents encompassed 435 senior living communities in 13 states last October and November. Continuing care retirement communities with 300 or more units appear to be leading the way with regard to future programming, services and amenities, Hollinger-Smith noted.

Currently, 24% of the CCRCs responding said they offer home health services, but that number is projected to leap to 62% by 2013, according to survey results. Similarly, while just 22% of communities are now offering Web-based education, that number is expected to soar to 69% over the next four years, while wellness offerings are projected to grow to 52% of facilities, up from 25%.

Senior living environments were projected for some of the most notable changes, with 35% of providers saying they expected to observe "green" standards in new construction or renovation (up from 0% now). Nearly two in five (39%) said they would be building "small house" models for long-term care residents, up from the current 8% level. Incorporating "smart home" technology to foster independence will also rise from the current 8% to 39%, providers said.