AgeTech Collaborative™ Testbed ADF Pursues Innovation in Older Adult Care

By Mark Ogilbee posted 04-28-2022 10:23 AM


Founded in 1959, ADF provides housing and innovative health and wellness programs to older people who served our nation in the armed forces. At the Knollwood Military Life Plan Community in Washington, D.C. — which ADF built, owns and operates — ADF collaborates with businesses, universities and nonprofits to explore new approaches in older adult care. ADF has worked with the AgeTech Collaborative™ since the Collaborative’s inception. 

As ADF’s Vice President of Development & Strategic Partnerships, James Michels manages all of ADF’s programs and charitable operations, including new health and wellness program development and integration.  

We chatted with James about ADF’s experience working with the Collaborative. 

Why did you choose to become a Testbed in the AgeTech Collaborative™?  What challenges were you trying to solve? 

AARP is a thought leader and a great convener within aging services. So we wanted to be a testbed for many reasons. Our nonprofit mission is to care for 275 people (predominantly retired military) by providing high quality health care and specialized programming, including innovative care solutions and new technologies. Some of our challenges include social isolation, mental health, and physical well-being. As a testbed community, we believe AARP will help us bring innovations to help meet these challenges head-on. 

How did being a Testbed within the AgeTech Collaborative™ help accomplish your goals as an organization? What has exceeded your expectations since working with us? 

As a testbed, our relationship with AARP helps identify challenges with caring for older adults and resolving that challenge by identifying a solution — whether that be a technological innovation or a way of delivering a program in a new way, but better. 

AARP has exceeded our expectations because they have introduced us to so many great companies that offer tremendous solutions for an aging population. 

What are three benefits that you’ve experienced as a result of joining the AgeTech Collaborative™ as a Testbed? 

As a testbed, I have a resource with AARP to seek out solutions for any challenge I might have as a nonprofit retirement community. I have a resource to discuss how to best select and evaluate companies seeking to bring a service or product into our community. And I have a partner to help measure efficacy. In the end, the testbed relationship helps us to know, empirically, the strength of our programming so we can know we are making a difference. 

What surprised you most and/or made you happiest about working with our Startups and with AARP Innovation Labs? 

The sheer number of great companies and the unique and brilliant solutions now available to older adults surprised me. I really think any organization hoping to serve older adults would benefit through this relationship. 

Why would you recommend becoming a part of the AgeTech Collaborative™ Community to someone who might be on the fence? 

It is so difficult to know the best companies seeking to serve older adults. As an AgeTech Collaborative™ Community, we have AARP’s industry leadership to help us navigate the terrain to bring the best solutions to us.