Lutheran Home Association

An older woman sits on a bench outside an apartment building

Technology as comprehensive partner in care for aging adults

The Lutheran Home Association leverages technology to care for aging adults. Their health and safety monitoring technology allows families and caregivers to actively engage in an elder’s care while enabling them to remain at home for as long as possible.

The health and safety monitoring technology is a system of customizable sensors placed throughout a residence. The location and function of the sensors can monitor anything from home doors opening and closing to individuals leaving bed at night to how often a medicine cabinet is used.

Sensors monitor regular activity and establish a baseline for each person. If an aging parent gets out of bed at night and doesn’t return within a certain amount of time, caregivers can get alerts sent straight to their phone, making them aware of potential falls or illness in real time.

“This gives families such peace of mind. Many have said they wouldn’t be able to keep their parents at home without it,” said Sharon Blume, director of health technology services. “We worked with a family that used to take turns sleeping over at their mom’s house every night because they were afraid she would fall without their knowing. Now they know they’ll be alerted quickly if anything should happen, and their mother still enjoys the privacy of her own home.”

Originally piloted in their Kingsway Retirement Living facility, The Lutheran Home Association is using recent funding from Mardag Foundation to raise awareness about this system among the broader community, and has connected nearly 60 households with this life-changing technology.

The implications of technology as a tool for families are financial as well as practical. A study conducted by Healthsense showed a 32 percent reduction rate in hospital fees, a 29 percent reduction in ER visits and a 67 percent reduction in nursing home visits among people using the sensor system.

The Lutheran Home Association was also instrumental in creating a reimbursement policy in Minnesota to cover remote monitoring technology. “We were early adopters of this tech,” said Michael Klatt, president and CEO of The Lutheran Home Association. “When you’re backing a new, unproven system, having the faith and credibility of a foundation like Mardag Foundation in your corner is essential. It really opened doors for us.”

Implementing new technology as a healthcare option will be crucial in serving the community’s growing population of elders. But at its core, the work The Lutheran Home Association does is as much about access and dignity as it is practicality for future generations of aging adults.