Seniors Housing Business

AUG-SEP 2018

Seniors Housing Business is the magazine that helps you navigate the evolution of the seniors housing industry.

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Page 54 of 80

54 Seniors Housing Business n August-September 2018 By Eric Taub As baby boomers age and consider the pos- sibilities of entering senior living, they're bring- ing with them a new set of expectations. This is the first generation that grew up with remote controls, answering machines, comput- ers, high-speed internet and mobile phones. High technology, while often a challenge, is not foreign to them. As a result, they increasingly want it to be available wherever they live. Tech innovators heed the call Younger entrepreneurs are responding in kind, creating startups that look to use the tech- nology that's always been a part of their gen- eration, to solve the problems that their aging parents and grandparents face. Those who are launching companies are often motivated to do so by experiencing the problems associated with an aging loved one. Yet the passion that comes from those observa- tions is no guarantee of riches. "Success is about the creation of value," says Arnold Whitman, a partner in Aging2.0, a San Francisco-based company that hosts events and financially supports innovators in the seniors housing space. "The successful healthcare busi- nesses will be the ones that solve the big spend issues." Whitman points to such companies as Vynca, which has devised a way to document advanced planning directives and make those wishes known across the care continuum. Costly, aggressive treatments all too often are given to persons at the end of life against their will. The result: when Vynca is used, there's a 37 percent reduction in hospital admissions, and a 59 percent cut in ICU admissions, accord- ing to the company. Whitman has also invested in Active Protec- tive, a startup that is developing a unique belt that uses 3D motion sensors to detect when an individual is about to fall, and then deploys built-in micro airbags to protect them when they do. The company says that its technology can reduce fall impact by 90 percent. If the prod- uct works — it's not yet available — the num- ber of hip replacements due to fractures and their contribution to increased medical costs, reduced life expectancy and quality of life could be dramatically altered. Virtual reality brings tears of joy While these are some examples of products that could have a big impact on cost, a number of smaller entrepreneurs are betting that their use of technology to improve seniors' lives can be just as impactful for the individual. Virtual reality — the ability to create a three- dimensional world viewed through goggles and a headset — has mostly been deployed in the world of video games. But several compa- nies see it as potentially having a major impact in senior care. MyndVR, based in Dallas, is licensing exist- ing virtual reality content, as well as creating its own, to enable seniors who can no longer travel to experience other worlds and revisit familiar locales from their youth. The company ensures that all the con- tent they offer — which is viewed through a Samsung Oculus Virtual Reality headset — is senior-friendly. Hence, there are no roller- coaster videos or zombie movies. Instead, the five- to 10-minute videos offer calming scenes, such as pet videos, a 1950s jazz club, classical music and travelogues. Using a virtual reality headset, viewers can move their head in a 360-degree angle, and as they do they can change their perspective of the scene. "It's the most beautiful thing to see tears of joy from the residents who become immersed in a music video that makes them feel as if they're there," says Chris Brickler, a company co-founder. While anecdotal evidence shows that users experience dramatic positive mood changes while viewing MyndVR videos, there is no evi- dence yet that watching them has lasting ben- efits. To find out, the company has partnered with seven universities to conduct clinical tri- als to determine if there are long-term mood improvements. Now used across 600 senior communities, including hospices, skilled nursing facilities, and independent living homes, MyndVR is sold on a subscription basis, with a community paying $75 to $100 per month per headset for the hardware, content and tech support. 'Step into a patient's shoes' Virtual reality can aid the caregiver as well as the patient, believes Carrie Shaw, CEO and founder of Embodied Labs in Los Angeles. Her company is developing virtual reality modules that enable caregivers to better understand the state of their elderly patients. "What if healthcare providers could step into a patient's shoes?" asks Shaw. "I knew that vir- tual reality would answer that question." Embodied Labs currently offers eight mod- ules that allow the user to virtually enter the body of an individual suffering from hearing and vision loss, Alzheimer's disease, and the physical and mental issues caused by nearing the end of one's life. For example, in the early-stage Alzheimer's module, the user struggles with cognitive pro- cesses and finds a way to talk to her family about being sick. In the middle-stage Alzheim- er's module, the user experiences hallucina- tions and what it's like to become confused. Each combines live-action video with the ability to use one's own hands. A game engine allows users to make real-time decisions about one's own care. Startups Capitalize on Graying of America n Technology From virtual reality that engages users to pill-dispensing robots, entrepreneurs seek to improve the lives of seniors and assist caregivers. Ohmni's Robot sees, listens, speaks and even moves, creating a unique take on a human-like social engagement tool.

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