It had no roof, no occupants, and total strangers milled around at will. Yet, there was no mistaking it was a home. The AAHSA Idea House, built outside the exhibit hall of the recently concluded 2009 AAHSA Annual Meeting & Exposition in Chicago, lived up to its billing, “Where technology and design meet the future of aging.” The house's guiding principles were: aging-in-place design, technology in design, and sustainable design. Despite its billing, the house, with all its futuristic accoutrements, felt homey and welcoming. This is a house, organizers say, one could live in from age 30 through the end of his or her life.
Some of the innovations were truly amazing: a kitchen desk and cupboard that raise and lower to facilitate easy reach; a medication dispenser programmed to dispense medicine at specific times of the day; a front doorbell that flashes who's at the door on a TV screen; a “smart” stove that turns off automatically, an $8,000 toilet that raises and lowers for the user as well as having two flushing modes-one for solid waste, and one for liquid to conserve water. The home even had a pet-a $6,000 robotic seal that moved, breathed, and could learn its name. It's especially good for those suffering from dementia. Computers were everywhere for entertainment as well as caretaking.
Walking through the house, one's jaw begins to drop at the innovation displayed. However, for this Baby Boomer, I was glad to see not only that the technology is available, but seeing it grouped in an actual living space was gratifying. I've come to expect these types of products as I age. I know I'm not alone.
We're not talking Flash Gordon or Star Trek here. This technology is available here and now and it is breathtaking in its scope, efficiency, and convenience. Bravo, AAHSA, for assembling such a stellar example of technology for senior living at its best.
As 2009 comes to a close, the staff of Long-Term Living would like to wish you, your family, and your residents a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. We are very appreciative of your continued interest and ideas that make Long-Term Living the magazine that it is. May the coming New Year bring the best to you personally and professionally.
Maureen Hrehocik, Editor Long-Term Living 2009 December;58(12):8