Technology, universal design and aging in place all come together at the Idea House at the AAHSA 09 conference.
When you are touring the home you can see all three of these principles in every corner.
I am going to start with sustainable design. “Green” design is important not only to the environment but to the health and wellness of the occupants who live in the home. The healthier the environment, the longer they can remain in their home whether that be and actual home, apartment or senior living community.
The house was designed to be oriented with the courtyard having an exposed southern exposure. This is important because it allows for optimum natural light. Also the light will come in during the winter and help to heat the home. In the summer when the rays are more direct, the louvers are designed to shade the windows. The home has windows on all corners allowing for additional light and shades that work at the touch of a button allow for privacy. The orientation of the home also allows for maximum ventilation. The roof can support solar panels (maybe we will see these next year when the show is in California..) and they can be moved to face the sun and help to heat the home.
The home also includes a green roof (imagine growing your garden right on your roof…). In addition the home is loaded with recycled products as well as water and energy saving devices.
This leads me to the second principle, technology. There were monitoring systems that can tell a caregiver what the temperature of the home is – that way if mom had not turned on her heat or air conditioning in a time when maybe they should have, something can be done about it sooner rather than later.
Some of the devices showcased can monitor motion (record average footsteps and gait), moisture on the floor, medications and weight and vital statistics. All of this information can be web based, again allowing for a remote care giver or a doctor to monitor the senior. These technologies are also currently used in many senior living communities as well.
You can also connect socially to family and friends through technology. There were multiple examples of software programs to run on a computer that allows a senior to easily stay in touch. You can even join a Wii bowling league and bowl against someone in a another state… But more about all these new technologies in another post.
Finally, aging in place or universal design. It allows any homeowner and their family members to have the confidence that the home will adapt to the future physical needs and allow them to stay at home as long as possible. Or if you already live in a senior community, it could delay a move to a higher level of care which can be very stressful.
The home is modular and could be used as a large group home instead of just a home for an individual or a family. It could be used as a home and an adult day care. It could also be added on to and become a home for a large group of individuals with private rooms and large inviting social areas. I saw computer graphics showing the home built out as well as up. I will talk more about this when I write about my interview with Eric Krull from THW design later.
There is still time to see the home for yourself.
McCormick Place Lakeside Center
Exhibit Hall Lobby, Level 3 – register on 2nd floor, they will give you a pass for just the Idea House
Tuesday Nov 10 noon – 3:30 pm
Wednesday Nov 11 noon – 3:30 pm