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The Roles of Tech and Design in Helping Us Age Better

Senior living is in a state of transformation as technology and design are integrated to give decades of flexibility and freedom

Homebuilders and designers are now faced with the reality that boomers want homes that they can age in place without ever having to move to an assisted living facility or nursing home. Builders all over the world are offering unprecedented opportunities for single and multi-generational families who can now provide their clients the peace of mind and flexibility to live in a new environment that supports and enables them to thrive as they age.

The interior environment of a modern ‘forever home’ allows clients to live their best without compromising on great design. Senior living is in a state of transformation as technology and design are integrated to give decades of flexibility and freedom.

Senior living is on the verge of a renaissance fueled by technology and design. We are living in the best possible time to age on our own terms and experiencing the tipping point, on the edge of a paradigm shift today that will affect every aspect of how we live and age tomorrow.

Products in the home will encompass everything from robotics, sensors and gadgets to 3-D printers and augmented reality – all of which eventually will be controlled by artificial intelligence.

For instance, it’s currently possible without personal staff invading your private space, for curtains to automatically open, coffee to start brewing, the bathroom floor to begin heating, all at a set time, before your feet hit the ground in the morning.

And, the capabilities are endless – extending beyond comfort to necessity. Your walls can become computer screens, artwork, TVs and communication devices, your closet virtually trialing outfits on your hologram allows you to view them from bed, your bathroom faucet automatically dispenses into your glass of water, the proper vitamins you need for the day. It’s not so far off that your doctor receives a text because the health monitor in your clothing notifies her that your blood pressure has been up for two days and you’ve had trouble sleeping, and the nurse calls to check in on you.

There are currently products available in flooring that can sense if someone has fallen or is just sitting on the floor. Other technology can notify you if someone hasn’t opened the fridge to eat in the last 48 hours or if a door opened at an unusual time. Between Lyft and Uber and the forthcoming autonomous vehicles, seniors can stay connected and active all the while keeping others on the road safe.

These technological advancements transform life for two generations – caregivers and caretakers.

If Mom and Dad want to stay at home, but by all definitions it’s unsafe in their current environment, it’s now possible for them to retain their freedom and for you transform their existing or brand-new home with the addition of new tech advances.

This is all taking place NOW.

The key is for the builder and designer is to make the space flexible for future needs while creating an environment that is world class. The style, comfort of the ride, integrated technology and brand are all components in making a car desirable. The home environment is no different – it should automatically adjust to your client’s particular size, style, preferences and needs. This methodology is truly transformational– yourhome now supports and even anticipates your needs, connecting you to resources and people as you age.

Designing from the inside out is key to allowing the space to flow. A space should embrace your client and their specific needs both for today and tomorrow.

Great interior design has always had an intimate relationship with the products that we use daily to make our lives easier.

My own family consists of four generations who all live under one roof in Columbus, Ohio, and we’ve figured out to make it work: dividing responsibilities and chores, re-designing physical spaces for privacy, and reconfiguring others into common areas for all to gather and enjoy living together.

I call it our “multi-generational social experiment,” which encompasses kids in their teens, parents in their forties, grandparents in their seventies, and a ninety-plus year-old great-grandmother.

My book, HIVE describes in detail how we navigate the joys and challenges that come with aging, and answers the questions, “How does family help you thrive at home when you’re old?” An Alzheimer’s/dementia diagnosis added a layer of complexity, yet we resolve to keep our eldest at home for as long as she’s happy, safe and engaged in life. The younger generation learns much from their elders, and the elders from their children. While mastering the use of technology and new family systems, we’re also mastering the use of humor, tolerance, and patience. Ultimately, that’s what makes this four-generation experiment a success. Hive provides practical design and strategies mixed with personal tips and observations, making it easy to see how you can transform a home in into a multi-generational living space.

Just don’t forget to budget and design with all the NEW technology available to enabling boomers to age in place.

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Originally published at www.oshba.org

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