MALVERN, PA — For many people, smart home technology is a nice convenience, but for seniors, it can be the difference between living independently and needing support services. Echo Lake, SageLife’s innovative senior living community in Malvern, Pa., has begun installing smart home technology in some of its apartments, helping residents live better, safer and more independent lives.
“We see this as a way of limiting falls, staying connected with family and friends, and allowing residents access that they may have felt limited in before,” says SageLife Founder and President Kelly Andress.
Offerings include phone-based apps for temperature automation, voice-command control of appliances and lighting, and improved door accessibility.
One Echo Lake resident who is benefitting from the community’s new smart home offering is Steve Cushmore, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s 4 years ago. Before the technology was installed, the flame-retardant front door of his apartment had been difficult for him to manage while using his special upright walker. Now he uses a remote control to open and close the door, allowing him to bring his walker inside with ease.
“I’m really grateful for the smart technology now,” he says. “I am going to be independent for a much longer period of time than I thought.”
Cushmore uses Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa to turn on and off his lights without letting go of his walker, allowing him to remain balanced and stable at home — when he’s not out and about in the community, using his walker to make sure he gets in his daily 10,000 steps.
While he’s exercising, Cushmore’s smart thermostat is adjusting the temperature in his home accordingly.
“The smart thermostat is one of my favorites,” explains Amanda Schwartz, Move-In/Marketing Coordinator at Echo Lake. “It will learn your habits. If you like cooler temps for sleeping, the thermostat will dial down at bedtime and increasing the temperature just before you get up. This technology can be accessed from your phone, allowing you to change the temperature in your apartment from anywhere. If you’ve been out for a walk on a hot day, just a few taps on your smartphone and your apartment will be nice and cool when you step inside. Also, if you’re out and wondering if you turned your lights off, just check your phone.”
Other residents and their families are excited about this offering and the value it will add to quality of life at Echo Lake.
“We just started rolling this out and already we have other residents asking for this technology because they clearly see the benefit of it,” says Andress.
Kirby Smith, President and Founder of SunKirb Ideas, installs the equipment in homes at Echo Lake. He also creates the accounts needed and programs the devices for the residents so they are user-friendly from the start. Then he teaches residents how to use the technology in their homes to improve their lives.
“There’s a belief out there that people who are aging can’t use smart technology,”
Smith says. “But I’ve found that this group picks it up right away.”
“It’s not complicated,” says Cushmore. “It’s pretty easy to use. All you have to do is talk to Alexa.”
Echo Lake offers independent living, assisted living and memory care, allowing residents to age comfortably in place. Residents enjoy the benefits of SageLife’s signature “Move for Life” program, which improves strength, balance, and flexibility — key components for aging well.
The community’s 25-acre campus connects to extensive walking trails and includes a rooftop pub, dining room, maker spaces, club rooms, a sports simulation lounge, state-of-the-art fitness center, putting green, gardening beds, and a Pickle Ball and basketball court. Learn more at www.livingatecholake.com.
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