Senior living has gone high-tech with these aging-in-place products
Planned retirement centers don’t have to be the only ones with the latest technology, if aging-in-place designers have anything to say about it. While at-home fitness gear used by NASA may sound futuristic, the “home of the future” is already at our fingertips. Lisa M. Cini, founder and CEO of Ohio’s Mosaic Design Studio, recently transformed a 1914 French Opera-style mansion into an aging-in-place showroom that manages to exude “approachable modernity” while keeping the original glory of the property.
Even further, we're able to apply some of those design and safety elements in residential homes, even if they're a bit less flashy. Here's what's possible—and what can work for your space.
Rick Robinson, the vice president of product development for AARP Innovation Labs, predicts that the aging-in-place home of the future will be “intuitive, based on artificial intelligence that learns inhabitants’ behaviors,” and “aware, so that feedback is offered proactively audibly, based on the situation.”
Height-adjustable countertops and accessories
Uniting the two concepts is one of Cini’s favorite features at Woodland Manor—intuitive flooring that can be placed under various surfaces (including both tile and carpet) to sense falls and notify a caregiver. “You can also set it up so that the lights turn on when your feet hit the floor for midnight trips to the bathroom,” she says. Data is held on local servers but can be shared with remote caregivers and loved ones. “If you notice that your mom hasn’t gotten out of bed for two days or is going to the bathroom more than usual, you can be notified that she may be off her medications or has a urinary tract infection,” says Cini.
Sole with Sensfloor is a good example of this technology already available, but if you’re not ready to commit to new flooring, some lower-tech solutions might be worth a look. There are ways to help prevent falls, such as anti-slip mats, staircase modifications and path lighting.
Cini and Robinson say enhancing stability and stamina should rank high on the priority list bed for home for those aging in place, so there’s no underestimating the value of a space for seniors to focus on their well-being at home. Cini recommends the LifetimeVibe vibration platform, which was designed for seniors but employs the same technology NASA uses to condition astronauts. “Safety arms add stability while a 20-minute session has the same benefits as a two-hour workout,” says Cini. “It can help increase balance, increase bone density and reduce incontinence—all big concerns for seniors.”
While the LifetimeVibe costs nearly $3,500, there are other much-beloved vibration platforms for a fraction of that price. Of course, you’re not getting the NASA tech, but it’s certainly worth trying.
Since seniors are less likely to be mobile, they are more likely to spend time or even sleep in a favorite recliner or armchair. It’s worth investing in the heavy-duty, ergonomic versions used at senior facilities—and these days, form is a perfect marriage with function, says Cini.
“Samuelson has a patented holder on the back of some of their chairs that looks like a design element, but it’s for a walker. You can hang it there and also use the holder to pull the chair in and out,” she says. “And, the Samuelson TILT line has durable fabric and is designed so if someone has an accident or just spills crumbs, you can pull up the seat and easily clean it out.”