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Big Ed Falls In Love With Senior Living at Sunrise

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By Steve Moran

I recently chatted with Shaun Anderson, executive director of Sunrise at University Park, about how they are using the Smiletm Technology Platform by CarexTech a Senior Housing Forum Partner, to enhance their resident programming. He started this discussion with a story...

Big Ed

Big Ed was just a teenager when he started swinging a hammer building houses and other things working for someone else. He went from “swinging a hammer to swinging a boot,” as the owner of a very successful construction company. When he retired, he handed over the reins of his massively successful construction company to his children. Big Ed had an equally large personality to match his beloved nickname.  

Over time, he got to the point where he needed additional support and moved into the Sunrise community as his new home, where his kids knew he would receive personalized care and services from a dedicated team. However, they were initially worried he wouldn’t like it – he would feel like a failure. Shaun and the community team communicated regularly with the family about Big Ed to provide updates on some activities he appeared to be involved in and how he was starting to adjust to life at Sunrise.

Shortly after, Bid Ed’s physical health declined, including the return of cancer and a number of cardiac and brain events.

Family Caregiving Conference

It was time for a family caregiver conference, and we know there is no getting out of this world alive, but coming face to face with it is always tough as a family. In this case, these feelings of grief were compounded by the guilt that Big Ed in senior living would not have been his first wish, despite knowing the Sunrise team was taking great care of him and seeing so during their visits.

Data Can Be Full of Hope

Shaun’s meeting with the family allayed their lingering concerns. But it wasn’t until later, Shaun and the University Park team had been piloting the Smiletm platform, a digital calendaring system that tracks each resident’s programming attendance, they learned with more concrete data how Big Ed was actually living out his last days in the community.

They pulled an activity report from Smiletm and discovered hat in the past 30 days, Big Ed had attended 122 programs. From bingo, to Bible Study and even cooking classes. Shaun shared this news with the family and they were beyond grateful and astonished.

What was remarkable was that in that moment, the family saw those last days in senior living as success -- not a failure. He lived his life with purpose and meaning, thriving in his final days. That data brought smiles to the family as they pictured Big Ed sitting and playing bingo with fellow residents

What this Means – My Perspective

As Shaun was telling me this story, I got this huge grin on my face. First and most important it means Big Ed was living his life to the fullest. Next it meant the family's hearts went from despair to joy.  

From a business perspective, it means great word of mouth referrals for University Park and more broadly this is one family where the negative stereotype of senior living has been obliterated by reality.

How are you doing with your activity tracking? Is it working for you or just something you do? You can check out Smiletm here. Do you have a story about how you are using technology to put smiles of the faces of your family members?

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