MINNEAPOLIS - A new learning lab is helping older adults live independently in their homes longer with the help of technology.

Augustana Care's Learning Lab for Eldercare Technologies opened last week in Minneapolis. Augustana Care developed the learning lab as a way to help older adults and care partners understand health and safety technologies — reducing the anxiety surrounding unfamiliar technology. 

Coordinator Kate Ingalls-Maloney said the learning lab is the first of its kind in the region.

"So we are kind of the connector between the technologies that are growing and with the people who are trying to live at home," Ingalls-Maloney said.

The learning lab includes a home-demonstration area where visitors can look at these devices in a real-life setting. It includes everything from smart home technology to a robot that helps people talk to their family and friends in a more interactive way. Staff also provide one-on-one coaching so people can learn how to use the technology tools.

Leon Wallace of Minneapolis moved into an apartment for older adults about seven years ago and said, "I live in this little efficiency. Biggest adjustment I've ever made in my entire life."

But at 75 years old, Wallace has stayed independent and said he's interested in finding out more about the tools featured in the learning lab.

"I think I'd be real comfortable with whatever support I could receive that would enable me to remain independent," he said.

The Learning Lab for Eldercare Technologies opened last Thursday in the upper level of the Cora McCorvey Health and Wellness Center in the Near North neighborhood of Minneapolis. The lab is supported in part by a Live Well at Home Grant from the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

"What we're seeing is that once people come into the lab and actually see it and that it's not so scary, and that they can ask all the questions they want, they really warm up to it," Ingalls-Maloney said.

The learning lab is free and open to the public. Scheduling an appointment is recommended but not required. You can find out more information or sign up for classes by visiting their website here. You can also call Ingalls-Maloney at 612-554-2317.