By Jon Anderson, PT, Therapy Resource

Technology makes life better in so many different ways. It could be robotic surgery, skipping the toll booth on the highway or paying for groceries with your phone. It’s also helping Keystone seniors have a safer, healthier life. Thanks to a generous $700K grant received, Keystone has selected It’s Never 2 Late® (iN2L) to provide senior-centered digital engagement technology throughout 10 of its communities that will impact nearly 1,000 senior residents across Texas.

Keystone facilities residents and caregivers will have access to the full breadth of iN2L systems. These include iN2L Engage, which supports the company’s continuously updated library of personalized engagement content, and allows caregivers to reach seniors where they are, regardless of physical or cognitive abilities. In all, nearly 200 systems are scheduled for implementation, as gateways to iN2L’s vast applied content library.

How does it work?

Residents and caregivers use a touchscreen to easily access and “favorite” educational, spiritual and social content personalized to their unique preferences, as well as their level of cognitive, physical and technical ability. They’re able to access email and web cams to connect with family and friends, participate in mind-stimulating activities and improve hand-eye coordination.

The senior-friendly design makes it easy for residents, even those who have never used computer technology before, to stimulate their intellectual curiosity, prompt joyful memories and stay connected with the people in their lives — individually, in group settings or one-on-one with caregivers. Additionally, the mobility of the technology enables caregivers to take the technology where the resident is — a patient’s room, a common area or a favorite cozy corner of the community.

For caregivers, iN2L personalizes engagement with residents and aids in care workflow through device settings configurable for each senior. iN2L also supports initiatives to improve memory care, mitigate the effects of boredom and loneliness, and modify negative or unhealthy behaviors.

The system also has applications for physical, occupational and speech therapies. The platform includes music specifically for residents with sundown syndrome, which is a state of confusion among people with dementia that occurs late in the afternoon and spans into the evening. The sundowner music calms them down and lets them know everything is OK.

The iN2L platform can also help forge social connections among residents and staff. Each user has access to the content suite with their own personalized landing page where they can add a “my story” function — a virtual scrapbook that shares their background with the community. There’s also an option for residents’ family members to upload videos or photos to their page so they can view special events like a grandchild’s graduation or recital. The idea is to share information with each other and provide talking points, which naturally increases socialization. You find things out that are just really exciting about each other.

Some residents have used the iN2L system to play trivia and access Google Maps to show staff a virtual tour of where they grew up or where they worked. For example, one patient showed a community college, where she once served as director of the school’s nursing program.

About iN2L:

Colorado-based It’s Never 2 Late was co-founded by Jack York, his late brother, Tom, and Leslie Sweeney in 1999. The business grew out of Sweeney’s suggestion to donate computers to assisted-living facilities and nursing centers in California, said York, president of It’s Never 2 Late. “We just donated some computers without any thought of it being a business,” York said.

York, who at the time worked for semiconductor manufacturer Vishay Intertechnology Inc., saw potential to connect seniors with technology, but through a platform that was more user-friendly than a traditional computer. “We know people who were doctors, teachers, lawyers and welders. They deserved so much better than the programming that took place within a community,” he said. “People still want to stay engaged and enjoy their day, so what we try to do is make it easy for that person and staff around them to be able to address that person’s unique interests.”

York said although there was some initial skepticism surrounding the platform, programming has evolved based on requests from users and has since become accepted among senior-living facilities nationwide to engage seniors with technology. “The first 10 years were pretty tough with trying to move the needle on the perception of what people could and couldn’t do in nursing homes,” York said. “We were fascinated with touch-screen technology way before it was mainstream, and, as years have gone by, we’ve become a content company as much as anything else.”

The iN2L platform is now in more than 3,000 senior-living communities in the United States and Canada. “People make erroneous assumptions of what people can and can’t do, especially folks living with dementia,” York said. “This technology is a marvelous tool for them to still be relevant and experience joy.”