New Designs for Elderly Care Offered

MacKenzie Kimball, for HealthLeaders Media , November 20, 2009

During the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging's (AAHSA) Annual Meeting and Exposition in Chicago last week, the association unveiled its Idea House, a 2,600 square-foot model home that uses innovative technologies and design to help older adults maintain their independence at home.

"The majority of older adults would prefer to remain in their home where they can have a higher quality of life and the cost of care is much lower. The Idea House displays technologies that would allow them to do this while enabling caregivers to provide a high level of service," says Majd Alwan, PhD, director of AAHSA's Center for Aging Services Technologies (CAST) in Washington, DC. "It really brought the future of technology in long-term care to life on the exhibit hall floor."

The Idea House displays a variety of products, 90% of which are already on the market and available to consumers and providers. In addition to helping older adults remain independent in their homes longer, these technologies and designs can reduce healthcare costs, improve health outcomes, and provide caregivers with up-to-date health information.

Some technology and design highlights included in the Idea House are:

  • Automatic medication dispenser and reminder
  • Electronic medical records
  • Height-adjustable bath and kitchen appliances
  • Automatic personal emergency response system
  • Interactive gaming system
  • Artificial intelligent robot in place of live animal therapy

"Although the Idea House is designed as a single-family home, many of the architectural design features, such as the wide doorways, zero step entry between rooms, common socialization areas, or adaptability of cabinets, could be easily adopted by nursing homes, assisted living facilities, greenhouse models, and other long-term care residences," Alwan says.

In addition to health and safety technologies, the Idea House includes products to help seniors maintain their social network.

"Although the Idea House aims to help people remain in their home, we don't want to isolate them; we want to give them a dignified and fulfilling aging experience," Alwan says. "The Idea House displays several technologies to support social connectedness, such as social networking sites for seniors, communications portals, two-way video conferences, and technologies that work to stimulate seniors both cognitively and physically."

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