Beyond Walls: Senior Living © Unsplash
14 Jun 2019

Beyond Walls: Senior Living

3 - 5 minutes

According to the World Health Organization, citizens who are 60 years and older are expected to reach 2 billion by 2050. In 2015, this number was 900 million. Today, 125 million people are aged 80 years or older.

In China alone, there are 120 million people and a whopping 434 million worldwide. The fact that ageing populations in low- and middle-income countries are on the rise presents unique challenges for the people who are building and designing homes for the elderly. While medical care is not the only one of the challenges, there is a stronger need to focus on the ambience within which older citizens will inhabit.

The U.S. Census Bureau 2017 National Population Projections predicts that 2030 will be an important demographic turning point in U.S. history alone. All baby boomers will cross the age of 65. This means 1 in every 5 residents will reach superannuation.

The Silver Tsunami!

Within the context of these statistics sectors such as construction, architecture, and technology are to figure out practical solutions for medical care, hospital design, and accessible cities. However, this may or may not address the problem of social isolation and loneliness. In the US, 27% of the women aged between 65 to 74 live on their own in 2014. Within the UK, 51% of both men and women aged over 75 live alone.

Nursing retirement home

Prevalent chronic loneliness within an elderly population has drawn the attention of health scientists and social researchers. Conclusions drawn have shown that there is a measurable health impact since such individuals develop a higher risk for disabilities, heart disease, stroke, and dementia. How does the nature and design of living spaces assist senior living?

RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) and New London Architecture have begun to create roadmaps which could possibly lead to a systemic breakdown of the older practices and give rise to a new set of design ideas and implementations. It is hoped that the captains of this industry work together to brace themselves for the impact produced by a population that may be limited in terms of mobility and navigation. Particular attention would be to concentrate on ambient assisted living for the elderly who are affected by Alzheimer's or advanced dementia. The world needs insights on how and why they must adopt designing practices based on engagement and interaction of the senior population with the outer and inner environment. HAPPI is a serendipitous acronym. HAPPI or Housing our

Ageing Population: Panel for Innovation, is a group of case studies from Europe. The panel's findings range from architectural (anthropometrics, lighting, and other services) to social (engagement with surroundings) aspects.

The Ambient Assisted Living Joint Programme or technology for welfare is another move in this direction. It supports innovation and development in ICT-based products, services, and systems for aging well at home, in the community, and at work, thus increasing the quality of life, autonomy, participation in social life, skills and employability of elderly people, and reducing the costs of health and social care. Twenty-two European countries set aside a budget of 600 million Euros over five years to co-finance projects aiming to improve seniors' quality of life and home care through technology.

Ambient technology can function with little input from the user and can be integrated into an environment — anything from GPS devices that help prevent wandering in people with dementia, to fully integrated "smart homes" that keep track of residents' health and safety. More comprehensive goals address crucial issues such as mobility, independence, social interaction, and meaningful activity.

Pilgrim gardens

PRP's award-winning Pilgrim Gardens' scheme for older people for Pilgrims' Friend Society is assisted living apartments which feature several of the assistance components advised by the HAPPI. Double-aspect flats encircle communal garden spaces of hard and soft landscaping, and a shared colonnade acts as a slow circulation space. In-built sliding glass doors allow the use of the balconies throughout the year.

An Age-Friendly World

Pilgrim gardens

The World Health Organization has been advocating for cities to adopt the idea of an age-friendly world since 2010. In 2017, the Milken Institute Center for the Future of Aging declared the college "towns" of Provo-Orem, Utah and Iowa City, Iowa as no. 1 big and small cities for successful aging respectively. These cities are examples of municipal and local resources working together to promote participation, health, security, and independence through multiple avenues, including providing safe, accessible transit; posting easy to read signs, and developing integrated and accessible intergenerational cohousing.

It is time for other cities and their governments to identify opportunities and enter the ambient assisted living landscape as trailblazers.

Smart cities are a ubiquitous concept in 2019. The livability quotient remains undecided. While the expectations of each community may be different from the other, addressing the future of elderly care has become critical.

Appendix:

  1. Older People Projected to Outnumber Children for First Time in U.S. History
  2. Ageing and health
  3. Old Age and Loneliness
  4. To Design for the Elderly Don't Look to the Past
  5. Ways Ambient Assisted Living Improves Quality of Life
  6. Pilgrim Gardens Evington
  7. HAPPI: Housing our Ageing Population: Panel for Innovation
  8. ICT 2014 - Special Issue on Innovative ICT-based Products, Services and Systems for Elderly People

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CAD Evangelist. "Beyond Walls: Senior Living" CAD Evangelist, Jun. 14, 2019, cadevangelist.com/design-engineering/beyond-walls-senior-living.

CAD Evangelist. (2019, June 14). Beyond Walls: Senior Living. Retrieved from https://cadevangelist.com/design-engineering/beyond-walls-senior-living

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