Building a house or apartment that evolves with its occupants is possible thanks to all kinds of technical gadgets. But how do you make sure you take future technology into account right from the design stage? That is what the city of Leuven and the city of Turnhout, together with KU Leuven and a number of partners specialized in healthcare technology, investigated
They designed a technical plan for the apartment of the future, focusing on the needs and wishes of elderly people who want to keep living independently at home. The completed plan is a useful tool for cities that draw up specifications for housing projects, care institutions that want to roll out independent living or private individuals who want to design their homes with a view to their old age in mind.
Longer independent living will be the trend in the future. According to forecasts, by 2030 more than 2 million Belgians will be older than 60 years and almost 500,000 older than 80 years. Add to this the major shortage of care personnel, and you can see that residential care centers are not going to be able to absorb this evolution. We will therefore have to continue to live at home independently for a longer period of time in the future.
Technology can take care of a lot of needs
Fortunately, there are already many technological solutions on the market that increase the comfort, well-being and sense of safety of older people. Think for example of technology for the central control of lamps and curtains, video bells for social contact, lifestyle monitoring, personal alarm and fall detection. Solutions are even available in the field of care and medication. For example, current technology makes it possible to measure blood sugar levels remotely and receive advice via teleconsultations. In this way, the elderly do not have to go to the doctor's office for every problem...
Future-oriented housing plan brings everything together
"In this project, we mapped out the needs of the elderly, informal carers and care professionals, looked for possible technological answers and then put them into a single housing plan. This led to a floor plan with the most important infrastructure requirements (power supply, connectivity and cabling). This means that all possibilities are open in the future," says Helena Schulpé, project manager of the city of Leuven.
"The strength of the project is that it brings together highly specialized knowledge into a clear plan. This has become possible thanks to the collaboration between the City of Leuven and the City of Turnhout, Resiterra, Health House, InnovAge, KU Leuven (ESAT), LiCalab and Leuven MindGate. They have shown that an interaction between technology and care leads to vital innovations," says alderman for economics Lalynn Wadera.
"As a city, we want to make maximum use of digital technologies to meet the challenges facing our city. There is enormous potential in new technologies that we want to utilize to the fullest," says Alderman of ICT Thomas Van Oppens. "It is now important to disseminate this design plan as much as possible and to go further. After all, this is only the beginning, it now comes down to building real smart houses".
To be seen in Health House
If you want to know more about the technological applications that enable older people to live independently for longer and if you want to see how they can get a place in a home, you can check this out in Health House after making a reservation.
Source: Stad Leuven, translated by Leuven MindGate