Last week at the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging’s (AAHSA) Annual Meeting & Exposition held at McCormick Place in Chicago, the 2,600 square foot model AAHSA Idea House displayed some of the latest features in universal design and technologies that are currently available for senior living developers and operators. The design and technologies shown focused on improving an elderly person’s quality of life while reducing health care costs, encouraging healthy behavior change, improving safety and providing caregivers with support.
"From sensor systems to high-tech medication dispensers to height-adjustable cabinets that lower so that people in wheelchairs can access them, technology and design have converged to make aging easier – and safer – in today’s modern world," AAHSA CEO Larry Minnix said. "We are pleased to be able to bring to life a vision that can be within reach of every elder in America."
More than 90 percent of the products on display at the AAHSA Idea House are on the market today. Product highlights include:
- A medication dispenser that automatically organizes, reminds, dispenses and monitors an individual’s medication use. The technology enables pharmacies to be notified when refills are needed.
- Electronic distribution of medical records to doctors, family members and caregivers on an ongoing basis. The distribution enables timely responses to the data, thereby improving an individual’s health outcomes and reducing health care costs over time.
- Automatic personal emergency response systems, including fall detection that monitor a person’s events and notify emergency medical services and caregivers immediately when needed.
- A security system that replaces the traditional peephole with an LCD screen to make it easier for people in wheelchairs or other needs to see who’s at their door.
- Hybrid Assistive Limb (HAL), a wearable robotic suit that is designed to multiply a person’s strength by reading bio-electric signals a person generates. The suit uses those signals to guide the movement of robotic limbs strapped to a person’s arms and legs. With HAL’s help, many stroke patients may be able to walk and nurses have extra strength to move individuals who need assistance.
- Height-adjustable kitchen and bath appliances designed to meet different users’ needs.
- A Passive Sleep Monitoring System that monitors a person’s sleep quality, breathing and heart rate as he/she lays on the mattress and enables caregivers to detect sleep-related markers of disease, like urinary tract infections and depression, earlier.
"It’s important that consumers and providers of aging services know what kind of products are out there, which is why we built this home. Whether you’re looking to adapt an existing home, evaluating retirement communities or updating assisted living facilities with the latest technology, the Idea House will show you the kinds of things that will make life easier for seniors today and in the future," said Eric Krull, an associate at THW Design and the lead architect on the project.
"Numerous studies prove that seniors want to use technology, and are willing to pay for it, if it will help them remain in their homes as long as they can," said Majd Alwan, PhD, director of the Center for Aging Services Technologies. "The AAHSA Idea House gives the general public and aging-services providers a chance to see the range of technology that is available and talk with the companies that are leading the way to meet the needs of this growing market segment."