Front Porch is a Southern California-based not-for-profit organization that provides housing and services to seniors. It serves 3,000 seniors in market rate communities and  operates 25 affordable senior communities that serve an additional 3,000 seniors.

As a not-for-profit, Front Porch is resolute in its pursuit of creating a better quality of life for seniors in their communities and beyond. 

This pursuit is realized in the six Front Porch Centers of Excellence.

  • Front Porch University
  • Front Porch Gallery
  • Front Porch Ethics Service
  • Centers for spirituality
  • Winners Circle
  • The Front Porch Center for Technology Innovation and Well Being (Front Porch Center)

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Kari Olson, the president of The Front Porch Center for Technology Innovation and Wellbeing.  Front Porch has a goal of finding technology solutions that would help seniors live well.  The idea is to match technology needs to viable and practical solutions. The Technology Center of Excellence came to life in 2008 when Front Porch began to explore Dakims Brain Fitness Technology. While the technology was still in its infancy, Front Porch leadership already knew of its potential to improve the lives of seniors.  After successfully testing this technology,Front Porch is now the largest installation of Dakim Brain Fitness systems in the country.

Current Initiatives

The  Front Porch Center is actively involved in exploring technology that benefits seniors with corporate and university partners.  They have two significant active initiatives: Medication Adherence – It is well known that seniors struggle with complying with their prescribed medication regimens.  Failure with compliance can have serious (sometimes even life-threatening) consequences.  The Front Porch Center is involved in a pilot project to use cell phone text messaging to remind seniors to take their medication. The hope is that using text messages as reminder will provide better compliance and a higher level of dignity by reducing the stigma of being “unwell.” Model eHealth Community for Aging – The Front Porch Center received a grant to develop a Model eHealth Community for Aging in the Los Angeles Koreatown neighborhood.  The hope is that this low-income under served senior community will see significant major improvements in health. The initiative includes broadband technology designed to improve access to a variety of health information and services, including telehealth, remote monitoring of key health indicators, medication management, computer based health education, use of the Nintendo wii and the Dakim Brain Fitness program.

What It Means to Senior Housing

As a nation, we are facing the challenges of a rapidly aging population and not enough money to pay for services as they are delivered today.  We must radically rethink how we are approaching senior wellness and quality of life.  Some suggest that staring rationing of healthcare in the face is the only possible way to resolve these challenges.  Organizations such as Front Porch Center are thinking out of the box.  Exploring ways that seniors can live fuller lives at a lower cost. The Dakim Technology is being used in senior housing communities across the country, demonstrating how these technology “experiments” can make a huge difference.  Lessons learned from the Front Porch Center and other pioneers will allow us to do a better job. Often individual communities and organizations do not have the resources needed to explore new frontiers. As a result, we depend on innovators like the Front Porch Center to help us to continue improving our care.

Some Lessons Learned

  • Touch screens can be difficult for seniors. They need to be calibrated to accommodate the specific needs of seniors.
  • Take some risks, try some new things, see what happens.  If you don’t get the results you hoped for, make adjustments and keep trying.
  • Work with partners to make whatever you are trying to do better.
  • Seniors are willing to embrace technology.

The Dream I concluded my conversation with Kari by asking her to imagine the future; what she thinks it will look like and what she hopes it will look like.  Here is her vision:

  • An integrated, Internet-based, healthcare system.
  • Everything and everyone will be connected through a device: tablets, desktop computers, laptops, smartphones and/or monitoring devices.
  • Caregivers, residents and families will be interconnected.
  • There will be rings of people and services that will meet physical, emotional and even financial needs of seniors.
  • Seniors will have more options rather than fewer.

Do You Have a Great Technology Idea?

The Front Porch Center is always open to new ideas and projects.  If you have a technology dream that will improve the life of seniors contact Kari Olson at [email protected] Additional Resources on Front Porch Center:   

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Finally: If you know anyone who is looking at emergency call systems I would appreciate the opportunity to talk with them about Vigil Health Solutions.