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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:

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Recently, a law professor in Iowa has been encouraging nursing homes in the U.S. to extend their policies to allow residents to have pets. She has also been pushing for state legislation that would ease the ability for elders to move into their new homes with their furry friends.  The professor points to several studies that indicate the benefit of pets on the aging.

Feeding the dog

[Credit: Ed Yourdon]

 
According to such studies, pets have a very positive effect on the elderly:

1) Pets lower blood pressure and pulse rate
2) Patients with pets have 21% fewer visits to the doctor
3) Pets decrease depression and feelings of loneliness
4) They enhance social opportunities
5) Allow seniors to become more active
6) Pets offer affection and love
7) Pets ease bereavement of a loved one
8) Allow seniors to take better care of themselves
9) Provide a sense of security

Though a majority of aging care facilities still prohibit pets to make the transition with their owners, and reasonably so – some elders are too frail to take care of the pets, residents may have allergies that caregivers want to avoid, pets can carry illnesses, and facilities may not want to be burdened by the extra expense pets bring – the effects of these studies are touching hearts and catching on.

There are many options out there for promoting the use of pets in nursing-home care while maintaining the balance of your aging care community, and countries around the world are seeing the benefits:

Therapy Dogs International, a volunteer-based organization offers dogs as therapy by visiting nursing homes, hospitals and other facilities as needed.

In Scotland, an experimental program by Alzheimer’s Scotland and Dogs for the Disabled has been training dogs to help people with dementia.  The program will take affect this September with the aim of helping dementia patients maintain their routine and provide social benefits.

In Australia, the Center for Companion Health at The University of Queensland has been conducting research through clinical studies by bringing pets into hospitals and clinics.

In Japan, pets are quickly starting to outnumber people. Birth rates have been on a decline in Japan for several decades, and the aging community has found relief from loneliness in the companionship of pets.  Previously considered outdoor creatures, the Japanese are starting to welcome pets as one of the family, indoors.

Is this a growing trend in nursing homes and living facilities around the world or is it losing speed? Please share your experiences and stories of therapy pets in your region.

France’s new president, Francois Hollande, has called for a younger retirement age for some workers: a drop from 62 to 60.  What many countries consider to be an economic mistake, France sees as a “pillar of France’s social benefit system” (AP).

To be fair, Hollande has been trying to win over a people angered by his predecessor, Nicholas Sarkozy, who raised the retirement age from 60 to 62 not long ago.  Sarkozy’s age hike was viewed as unfair to low-income workers and Hollande’s change would help mothers and those who suffer workplace accidents.  

Yesterday, IAHSA attended a press release by the Geneva Association which issued a report on Addressing the Challenge of Global Ageing. Their recommendations for the international crisis were supportive of raising the retirement age.  Here is why:

  • To align retirement age with life expectancy
  • Relieve public finance
  • Increase taxes and social security contributions to stimulate economies
  • Increase Labor force participation

So what is the right thing to do? Of course this is subject to debate but The Geneva Reports leave us with a few ideas:

  • Offer incentives for part-time work beyond the official retirement age
  • Eliminate incentives for early retirement
  • Accept the need to save more

French flags

French Flags [Credit: Quinn.Anya]

        Today, May 21, 2012, University of Adelaide is launching the Australian Population and Migration Research Centre (APMRC) focused on developing a sustainable population and workforce strategy for Asia Pacific and Australia. Research will include topics such as the impact of aging on the workforce, modern communications technology for the elderly, and issues of obesity among many others.

       This is a rare and exciting opening of a one-of-a-kind research institute. Research will be collaborated by a number of leading universities in the region as well as the United States and the United Kingdom.  Leading the center will be Professor Graeme Hugo and Deputy Directors Dr. Dianne Rudd and Dr. Helen Feist.  Professor Hugo had been studying labor mobility trends and implication of international migration on economic change.  Most recently, he has written a publication titled “Australian Population and Immigration Policy: An Opportunity”.

        The APMRC team have had 6 papers accepted for the International Federation of Aging conference which will be held in Prague in May 2012.

        We can’t wait to see what interesting findings come out of this exciting venture!

Chart: Projected population size for selected age ranges.

Credit: The Treasury, Australian Government; Australia’s demographic change

 

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

Today, the government of Australia released their blueprint for reform of the aged care sector.  The proposal would strengthen government support of in-home care, increase wages for care workers and increase government funding for dementia care.  While the plan tightens means-testing for elder care, Prime Minister Julia Gillard contends that means-testing increases fairness. The plan introduces more payment flexibility, changing the current system which requires up- front payments, to one in which users may pay either with a lump sum or over time.   Interested in learning more? Check out the full report.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard

Photo courtesy  MystifyMe Concert Photography™

IAHSA is pleased to announce that we have received Arcadia as our first Peruvian member. A full service CCRC, the facility is currently under construction and will open in March of 2013. As a functioning property, the home will have a total of 100 apartments that are available to couples and singles; residents will have access to a pool, garden, communal barbeque area, as well as recreational programming. “Our goal is to have a first class CCRC right here in Lima,” said one of the founding business partners, Augusto Elias. “For a long time in Peru, residences for the elderly have been seen in a negative light. Our goal at Arcadia is to give seniors a wonderful place to call home with access to all to supportive services they need to maintain optimal wellbeing.”

Persons interested in learning more are encouraged to visit the website or email arcadia@arcadia.pe

Rendering courtesy of Arcadia Residencias Para La Tercera Edad.

Today the World Health Organization commemorates its founding in 1948 by observing World Health Day. This year’s theme is healthy ageing, and organizers are promoting discussion of how countries and health systems can support health lifestyles across the lifespan. How will you commemorate today? What will you do to support health ageing?

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.

Having access to an adequate and safe water source remains a challenge for billions of people around the world. Biological ageing causes the body to weaken, and having access to clean water becomes more important. The elderly are vulnerable to water issues in the following ways:

  1. Water is key to health. Elderly people are more likely to become dehydrated because of their decreased ability to maintain balance fluid.  Older people’s sense of thirst naturally decreases with age, and medications can also affect a person’s sense of thirst. Elderly people are vulnerable to water borne illnesses that cause diarrheal diseases.
  2. Water doesn’t always come from a tap. Elderly persons may not have the strength to walk to communal wells to fetch water for consumption. Due to long walk and heavy strain they may reduce the amount of water they bring to their residence for consumption.
  3. Water is key to food security. Elderly persons often have diminished strength for farming which can in and of itself create greater food insecurity.  People who have better access to water tend to have lower levels of undernourishment. The lack of water can be a major cause of famine and undernourishment, in particular in areas where people depend on local agriculture for food and income.

Interested in doing something in honour of World Water Day? Consider donating to HelpAge International; they have many excellent programmes that work to ensure water access for the elderly.

Photo courtesy mctrent

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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