The rapid adoption of technology by older adults over the past two decades is remarkable. In the year 2000, 14% of people 65 and over were internet users. As of 2022, 75% of those 65+ use the internet — and more than 6 in 10 own a smartphone.
So, it’s only natural that Coterie takes senior living technology seriously. How seriously? Each Coterie community employs a full time Digital Innovation Director. These experienced professionals go beyond simply providing tech support for Coterie residents – though they do that quite well. They also draw on the power of technology to make the lives of residents more fulfilling, comfortable, and safe.
Why the Digital Innovation Director role is an integral aspect of life at Coterie
The integration of technology into the everyday lives of billions of people on planet earth counts as one of the most dramatic and remarkable developments in recorded history. Never have humans had nearly unlimited access to information and conveniences, not to mention from a device that fits in the palm of their hands. So how do we make the most of this technological boon to humanity?
Into our tech-driven world steps the Coterie Digital Innovation Director (DID). Helping seniors with technology is job one. Part technology problem solver, part teacher, part coach, part advocate for the many opportunities technology holds for life enhancement, DIDs are passionate about technology for seniors. Coterie residents appreciate knowing they have a personal, go-to resource for all things tech.
New Coterie residents often meet their Digital Innovation Director on move-in day. The DID sees new residents in their apartments, showing them how to operate the many built-in smart features. Residents learn to turn lights on and off, open the window shades, adjust the thermostat, and even operate the oven and stove top — all with the sound of their voice.
Next, the Digital Innovation Director puts a laser-like focus on the resident’s personal devices, making sure computers, tablets, and cell phones interface properly with the technology in their apartment, including smart TVs and building Wi-Fi.
The DID usually meets several times with each new resident. As Coterie Cathedral Hill Digital Innovation Director Izem Guendoud explains it, “After we meet, I leave them a set of basic instructions, and encourage them to contact me as the need arises. If they want or need anything else, they can reach out to me through the concierge, or text or email me directly. A big part of this job is supporting resident tech needs on an ongoing basis.”
The DID also knows that every resident arrives at Coterie with a different technology skill set. “It doesn’t matter if the new resident is a tech expert— or has never had an email account,” says Hudson Yards Digital Innovation Director Amber Wright. “We meet them where they are and give them the information and support they need to feel successful.”
Coterie’s Digital Innovation Directors are also responsible for making sure systems operate properly throughout the building. Residents may spot them on their rounds as they keep Coterie’s technology infrastructure in top working order. Izem Guendoud explains, ”I do technology troubleshooting for the building, making sure all of the systems run perfectly, whether it’s wi-fi or the smart systems that make life easier and more enjoyable for the people who live here.”
Coterie: Built around smart technology from the ground up
Coterie builds technology into each community. Residences are outfitted with the voice-controlled Coterie Smart Home System, enabling residents to control the apartment environment without needing to flip a switch or pick up a remote.
Every apartment comes standard with Alexa, a digital technology assistant. Residents can ask Alexa to play their favorite Beethoven symphony, shop for a new pair of shoes, or search for the latest Mediterranean diet recipe —with confidence and ease. Coterie’s mission is to fulfill the promise of technology to enrich lives — without forcing anyone to become a computer engineer!
Smart technology to keep residents safer
Coterie also seeks intelligent ways to keep residents safe and sound. Everyone receives a CarePredict wearable wristband which supports personal independence and prompt care at the touch of a button. This helpful device tracks personal information (How many trips to the bathroom? How many hours of sleep?), locates the residents anywhere in the building, and provides two-way voice communication so assistance can be provided at a moment’s notice.
Then there’s the AccuShield visitor management system which conducts screenings and temperature checks of guests, employees, and vendors upon arrival. Coterie residents sleep better at night knowing their community maintains these extra layers of security.
Technology and lifelong learning
The role of the Digital Innovation Director is to incorporate innovative ideas into their interactions with residents — and expose them to emerging innovations in the technology space.
“One of the reasons we come to work every day is to keep opening the minds of residents, in a way that opens doors to new possibilities,” says Amber Wright.
Residents are encouraged to attend fun and interactive group classes. Past tutorial topics have included how to use Alexa, tips for using a smart TV and streaming, Canva design, and photo editing.
Izem Guendoud says, “Our job is to arouse curiosity and show residents that technology can be interesting and make life more fun. It’s rewarding to get to know each resident, to help set them up for success, and to share new ways to do things.”
Living richer, more satisfying lives through technology
Drawing upon the expertise of the Digital Innovation Director, residents experience numerous life-enriching, health-supporting benefits, such as:
- Independence. Apartments are thoughtfully designed with built-in smart features, so residents can easily control their living space.
- Connection. Staying connected. Coterie Digital Innovation Directors share the finer points of using video calling services (like FaceTime) to interact with their grandkids and friends
- Health and safety. Resident health is monitored respectfully and effectively with handy wearable monitoring devices and tele-health options that are easily accessed.
- Mental wellness. A surprising – and welcome – side benefit of spending time on the web is that regular internet use has been shown to delay the onset of dementia in older adults.
- On-demand support. The Digital Innovation Director tackles virtually any issue a resident might encounter. Common needs include accessing a web-based account, asking for help when cloud storage is full, or troubleshooting when a wireless printer isn’t connecting. “I will get on the phone with tech support with the resident sitting beside me,” Amber Wright says, “and stick with it until the issue is resolved.”
Whether providing assistance with a personal device, familiarizing residents with the smart features of the community, or discussing emerging innovations that might increase a resident’s zest for living, Coterie Digital Innovation Directors stay totally dialed in on technology — and completely engaged with the ongoing needs of the residents. You might say it’s a match made in technology heaven.