Connected and engaged living through smart tech at Ovation Heartwood Preserve | Brand Ave. Studios

Technology and senior citizens may sound like strange bedfellows. But in fact, recent advancements are closing the divide between digital natives — the millennial and Gen-Z generations of people born into the digital age — and older generations who have learned to use computers as adults.

At Ovation Heartwood Preserve, technology is helping keep residents feeling young, active and fully engaged with the world around them.

“Some residents want to be extremely involved and some don’t,” says Gina Babcock, the Life Enrichment Director of Independent Living at Ovation in Omaha. “But either way, technology enables them to stay connected and able to see not only what’s going on daily but what’s coming up in the month ahead.”

Apartments in all three types of residences come with K4 hubs — a virtual assistant for Ovation residents. Assisted by a staff member, residents can download the K4 app to their phones or mobile devices. Then, when linked with a virtual assistant device, from the comfort of their chairs or beds they can control apartment functions such as lights and thermostat, as well as schedule services, view the day’s menu or order a meal, and receive notices of upcoming activity offerings. They can also readily connect with staff, family and fellow residents.

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“Say, for example, residents are in their kitchens and want to call a family member or a neighbor,” Babcock says. “They can use the technology to say, ‘Hey there, call so and so.’ And if we are putting on a big social event, I can send a push notification to remind them.”

Chinese couple on sofa watching movie online

The technology has been especially valuable during the COVID-19 pandemic, letting residents access a rich menu of online classes and games matched with their age and individual cognitive abilities.

Overall, voice-activated smart-home technology has created a living environment that enhances the quality of life for all those in the Ovation Heartwood Preserve community.

At the same time, indoor lights have been fine-tuned to mimic the color and brightness of the sun at different times of day to promote a natural circadian rhythm.

Residents in senior or assisted-living facilities with minimal access to bright daylight can experience a state of “biological twilight.” The result is often confusion, depression and nighttime wandering. The problem can be especially acute for residents requiring Memory Care, who tend to get outdoors less frequently than others.

By replicating natural light, circadian lighting can lower stress, reduce depression and improve immune system functioning, sleep quality, behavior and mood.

Keeping up with technology

No matter the type of residence or level of IT know-how, technology is helping these technology feel perfectly savvy residents at home while connected them to the whole wide world!

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