Tech-driven solutions will become increasingly important for aging in place.
Retooling for an Aging World, one of our 10 Trends for 2010, touched on a trend we’ll see more of as Baby Boomers get older: the rising desire to “age in place,” or remain in one’s home and community as long as possible. In the U.S., where Baby Boomers represent the largest group of retirees in the country’s history, a range of products and services are helping seniors make it easier to remain independent.
Tech-driven solutions will become increasingly important for aging in place. The upcoming Numera Libris integrates tele-health and safety monitoring in a wearable smart device that integrates Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and biometric monitoring. Rest Assured is a company that rigs homes with sensors and communications equipment so seniors can be monitored; as The New York Times recently reported, clients pay $1,100 per month on average. TigerPlace, a senior housing facility in Missouri, has tested rooms featuring motion-detection sensors over doorways and in the mattresses and a Microsoft Kinect box mounted on the ceiling to detect falls. And more home automation firms are marketing senior-friendly innovations such as automatically adjusting countertops and shelves, temperature monitors, and audible and visual alarms on appliances, doors and smoke detectors.
Of course, the real estate industry is making adjustments as well. More than 5,000 home builders have graduated from the National Association of Home Builders’ Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist program, which focuses on catering to seniors’ housing needs in terms of logistics and customer service. Since the 2001 debut of Boston’s Beacon Hill Village, the first aging-in-place community in the U.S., dozens of similar villages have opened nationwide, with 120 more in development, according to 2012 research from the Rutgers School of Social Work. And an Oregon nonprofit recently started providing very low-interest loans to seniors interested in making their homes more accommodating.