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Ikea design has nothing on KTH Royal Institute of Technology’s Centre for Health and Building.  The KTH Centre for Health and Building (CHB) undertakes Research and Design (R&D) projects in cooperation with universities, industrial companies, municipalities and county councils – always taking into consideration universal design.

Every feature in the CHB Full Scale Living Laboratory is adaptable, adjustable, sustainable and accounts for all of life’s transitions. New technologies are tested in the Lab to help people live independent lives before being passed on to field research.

In the Lab, The Centre is testing home and sensor networks, communication and support systems, surveillance and alarm systems, hard- and software for cognitive support in the home, stand­ardized home adaptations, inclusive ergonomic support technology, facility management models for residential housing.

CHB capabilities include construction building technologies, plan­ning and logistics, energy and water resource management, facility management, in-door climate, housing design, safety and work environment, medical ergonomics, patient safety and aged care.

Karin Nordh, R&D Coordinator, shared some photos of the Lab features with us:

The Living Room offers wide spaces, even surfaces and light moving furniture.

Each element in this sustainable bathroom is adjustable, from the toilet seat, to the sink.

The Kitchen features adjustable counter-tops, wheelchair accessible appliances and low-reaching cabinets.

 

As part of LeadingAge’s Annual Meeting taking place 21-24 October 2012 in Denver, Colorado, the LeadingAGe IdeaHouse takes the spotlight in innovative design.  Combining 110 ideas, this year’s house boasts an array of designs and technology applications in a new 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom cottage-style home.

30 companies will be exhibiting this highly sought-after design in senior care and architectural trends. At the heart of the project stand the guiding principles: aging in place, technology in design, sustainable design, affordability and flexibility.  As trends progress, the IdeaHouse brings the latest in senior living design and aging services technology.

The model life-sized house is being built by Freeman Decorating with architectural and interior design by THW Design from Atlanta, Georgia.

The display has been showcased at the LeadingAge Annual Meeting since 2009, but the 2012 IdeaHouse has been completely redesigned to show the latest trends and bring ideas to various levels of senior care.

This year the theme is focused around ideas and how four different individuals and their caregivers can use these ideas to improve their quality of life. The retail value of the 2012 design is $400,000 (USD).

You can get a live viewing during the 2012 Annual Meeting.  For more information, visit LeadingAge.org or take a tour on youtube:

Finding a good car is difficult enough, with sky-rocketing gas prices, ever increasing gadgets and rising sales costs.  For those who use wheelchairs or caregivers who transport loved ones in wheelchairs, the challenge can seem even greater.  From expert resources and user reviews, we compiled this list that can kick-start your search for the most comfortable and most user-friendly vehicle.

Kenguru cars allow drivers to roll right in.

Credit: Kengurucars.com

Before purchasing, here are some things to consider:

-  Ease of parking – Consider a ramp extension or space to pull out the wheel chair in addition to finding  a vehicle that can comfortably fit into standard parking spaces.

-   Space – You want to not only be able to get the passenger and wheelchair into the car, but to also have enough leg room. The height of the doors and storage space should allow for easy transfer of the passenger and wheelchair in and out quickly.

-   Utility – Considerations that may be taken for granted are orientation of functions such as the height of the steering wheel and layout of navigation tools which may need to be adjusted in standard vehicles.

1)      Honda Element – This car has a seating configuration that is inherently accommodating for those in wheelchairs, and frequently needs little or no modifications for those using wheelchairs. The doors are more than accommodating in size for a wheelchair. It offers options for style, performance, and accommodation of lifestyle. The Element is more affordable than a modified van.

2)      Ams Vans Minivan – A minivan is considerably cheaper than an SUV alternative and tends to have lower doors.  These cars also tend to have a higher passenger capacity than a standard sedan.  The seats fold down so you can move around inside without climbing over seats.  On the downside, they tend to not accommodate wider or taller wheelchairs.

3)      MV-1 Mobility Car – Due to a green CNG fueling system, this vehicle has better gas mileage than a standard minivan. Parking is easy and it showcases a classy interior and safety features including anti-slip surfaces and electronic stability control. This model however, does not allow occupants to drive independently and driving does take getting used to, particularly when the car is full of passengers.

4)     Chevrolet Silverado Truck– Companies such as Mobility SVM (formerly Go Shichi) offer Disability Accessible Trucks that they themselves converted or will convert for you. The model they most frequently work with is the Chevrolet Silverado, though the GMC Sierra 1500 series has also been popular. Trucks are useful for those who continue working, gardening or just need to cart around a lot of equipment.  Gas is more expensive for trucks, as of course is parking.

5)     Kenguru- More like a wheelchair scooter, the Kenguru is an invention from Norway that is a great alternative to getting around locally and for short trips.  It accelerates up to 60 miles per hour and is fairly small to fit almost anywhere.  The vehicle allows wheel-chair drivers to roll right in to propel the car straight from their wheelchair.  However, there is no storage space or room to transport other riders.

At the 2012 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) this week, the Clothbot, a personal modular robot, has been developed with the aspiration to assist in home care.  This digital friend can be of valuable use in monitoring health of the elderly or disabled.

Created by the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese University of Hong Kong, this tech friend can climb up and down stairs, navigate across rugged surfaces, and follow you around.

Its creators, headed by Yuanyuan Liu, envisioned a robot that can:

-          Conduct “body inspection”

-          “Act as a movable phone on our shoulder with frees human hands”

-          “A tiny pet climbing on human bodies”

While others might find this invasive or perhaps creepy, there is a great potential benefit that can come from an interactive robot like Clothbot:

-          A tracking and monitoring device to assist someone who is unable to grip or hold other devices, such as a phone, can be extremely beneficial

-          An alarm system that alerts the recipient of the information any potential danger, similar to sensory detectors or alarms

-          Increase interaction and activity among idle elders (similar robots have been used as games)

-          Companionship  – Just recently, Britain’s Royal Academy of Engineering recommended similar autonomous devices such as the Dream Cat Venus to provide companionship to older people.

 

Community Press has created a book intended to help elders stay safe online. The book, Computer Scams, Shams, and Spam: How to Safely Enjoy Your Online Time [For Boomers and Beyond], provides older computer users the education they need to protect themselves from the scam artists that prey on
them via email, at websites, as well as over the phone.  Filled with pictures and  real-life examples of malicious campaigns against the elderly, the book is a valuable resource for older people who want to reap the benefits of online engagement while protecting themselves from cyberthreats. For more information about the book, check out Community Press’ website.

Top tips include:

1) Protect your personal information. Read privacy policies, check URLS, and shop only with trustworthy businesses

2) Beware of deals that sound “too good to be true.” You already have heard it, if it sounds “too good to be true” it probably is. Unsolicited emails from “lost relatives,” “Nigerian businessmen,” and people selling care in another state are almost always shams. If someone contacts you promising you funds, be suspicious.

3) Watch out for phishing. Phishing is an attempt by an illigitamate business to impersonate a legitatmate business and dupe customers into “verifying” their personal information. Click on the links in a phishing email, and you’ll be directed to a site that looks like the site you normally use, but this one is set up to steal your info! With step-by-step advice,  Computer Scams, Shams and Spam can help your parent or grandparent figure out what to trust, and what to stay away from.

A new technology aims to help older drivers stay on the road for longer, using pictures of mail boxes or restaurants as visual turning cues. The tool, which has been nicknamed “the Granny Nav” is being investigated as a part of the UK’s Research Council efforts to help facilitate safe driving among the elderly. According to a press release, Professor Phil Blythe stated that “For many older people, particularly those living alone or in rural areas, driving is essential for maintaining their independence.” The technology is a part of an effort to examine whether people could continue to drive safely when given technological supports to overcome decreased reaction time that is a normal part of ageing.  To figure out the best ways to help keep older people on the road, the Intelligent Transport team at Newcastle University converted an electric car into a mobile laboratory called DriveLAB.  Using tracking sensors, motion monitors, and bio-monitors, researchers are able to document response times and processes among older drivers. Preliminary findings suggest that use of advanced external cues can help older drivers prepare for and properly execute driving maneuvers. The research will be presented at an Aging, Mobility and Quality of Life conference in Michigan, USA in June.

Photo courtesy of jamelah

Five innovative solutions have been developed to help people living with dementia as part of the Design Council challenge. The teams behind these solutions include designers, entrepreneurs and service providers, as well as experts in nutrition, dog training and olfaction. The concepts are focused on and around the point of diagnosis, aiming to be preventative measures that improve quality of life in the early stages of dementia for the increasing numbers of people being diagnosed. The five solutions demonstrate the vast potential of innovative ideas in an under-served market and show how design can play a key role in confronting a major social challenge. The Dementia Dog is one of the five examples, described as “assistance dogs for the mind”.

Dementia Dog is a service providing assistance dogs to people with dementia, helping them lead more fulfilled independent and stress-free lives. A sense of routine can often disintegrate for people with dementia. Dogs can be trained to live to a consistent routine. Ultimately, each dog will be trained with the person with dementia and their carer so all three can operate as a team.

Learn more about the pilot project on dementia dogs underway in the United Kingdom by visiting the website.

Photo courtesy  Tropewell.

The Director of IAHSA, Katie Smith-Sloan, recently met with representatives of Panasonic to discuss their innovative products for seniors. Some of the Panasonic products currently on the market in Japan include a robotic companion teddy bear, a hair-washing robot, and a mobility bed. Panasonic is also working on developing other products to enable the virtual delivery of rehabilitation services.  As a part of its service line in Japan, Panasonic operates a variety of long-term care facilities and rehab centers, and hopes that the development of new technologies will enable them to better serve their client base. Interested in learning more? Check out the video on their website.

Are you signed up for the International Federation on Aging’s 11th Global Conference on Aging? This year the event will feature a Senior Government Officials Meeting to discuss the role of Technology in Long Term Care.  Technologies to be reviewed include medication optimization, remote patient monitoring, assistive technologies, remote training, disease management, cognitive fitness and social networking tools. Join the conference from 28 May to 1 June 2012, where speakers will include Professor Greg Tegart,  Richard Watson, Dr Eric Dishman, and Msc. Anneke Offereins. To sign up of for more information, visit the website below!

Earlier this week ACSA announced the appointment of Adjunct Professor John Kelly AM to the role of CEO. He will be based out of Canberra. “It’s a significant time for the sector and the community as the Government prepares to formally respond to the PC’s Report ‘Caring for Older Australians’ and the discussions surrounding the establishment of the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission,” Professor Kelly said. “I look forward to advocating on behalf of ACSA’s membership in these critical discussions.”

Professor Kelly has over 15 years of experience as a director of not‐for‐profit and remunerated health and aged care related organisations. He is also a recognised expert on health law, health administration and health policy.  In 2010 he temporarily held the position of Commonwealth Aged Care Commissioner, appointed by the Australian government.

Check out this video where Professor Kelly discusses the future of robotics in elder care.

About this blog

IAHSA’s Global Ageing Network Blog was created because of you!! We got your message loud and clear – “Provide us with a quick and nimble communications vehicle so we can stay connected and create community across borders".

Questions? Email us at iahsa@leadingage.org.

Authors

Virginia Nuessle, Study Tour Director

Majd Alwan, Director, CAST

Alla Rubinstein, Program Administrator, IAHSA

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