lectronically controlled windows, voice-activated lighting, colored faucet taps, height-adjustable kitchen appliances and eco-friendly, sustainable construction … These amenities are all part of what some are calling the dementia-friendly house of the future. The model home built as a project by University of Wollongong students aims to improve the quality of life for aging seniors, particularly those living with dementia and or other disabilities.
There are 425,000+ Australians afflicted with dementia and it’s estimated that 250 cases are diagnosed every day. Dementia is the 2nd leading cause of death in Australia and leading cause for women. Roughly 6.4 million Australians will be diagnosed with dementia over the next 40 years, costing the economy approximately $1 trillion.
The following piece by abc.net.au explains how a group of college students are helping change the future of home care for seniors in Australia and around the world…
What will homes of the future look like — as the population ages and we become more environmentally aware?
The ‘Desert Rose’ house, designed by University of Wollongong students, uses technology and design to improve the quality of life for people living with dementia and aged-related disabilities.
Living with dementia can make basic home tasks daunting.
“It can be very stressful — like your ability to sense time,” said Dennis Frost, a 64-year-old man living with dementia and head of the Southern Dementia Advisory Group.
“I find personally a great difficulty cooking because I lose track of how long things take, I often over-cook things — let the smoke in.”
Mr Frost was diagnosed when he was just 59.
The advisory group has been integral in the concept of the Desert Rose house and improving problems that limit a person’s ability to live at home so they don’t need to go into a care facility.
The project is being entered in the Solar Decathlon Middle East 2018 — a global competition to design, build and operate sustainable homes.Photo: Coloured taps indicate the temperature of the water, can be pre-set and remind residents to wash their hands. (ABC Illawarra: Chloe Hart)
The University of Wollongong is the only team from the Southern Hemisphere competing and the house is designed for the climate of Dubai or Australia.
Design features include digital taps with lights reminding occupants to wash their hands, that also have automatic ‘off’ functions, temperature controls to prevent scolding, and are easily turned for people with weak hand strength.
The ‘line of sight’ design makes it easier for a person to navigate through their home, while wider doors accommodate wheelchairs, scooters and hospital beds for in-home care.
Lights can be turned off using voice activation, so people don’t have to get out of bed at night.
Technology also enables mobile control of the house, so family can keep an eye on a loved one and make sure appliances are switched off, and a building management system also controls the internal temperature.
Benches, stoves and kitchen functions can be height adjusted if the occupant needs to use a wheelchair later in life.
“A relative of mine recently become a paraplegic and the adaptations they’ve had to make to enable him to maintain a relatively normal life at home is really dramatic,” Mr Frost said.
“In the Desert Rose environment they would be easy and make the ageing process much more friendly.”
Ceilings are also strengthened to be able to attach hoists.
“So if you require lifting mechanism to get out of bed or a chair you wouldn’t have to retrofit the house at some exorbitant cost, we don’t normally plan ahead until it’s too late.”
How to pack up a house and send it to the other side of the world
The house is being disassembled, packed up in shipping containers and flown off to Dubai for the solar competition.
UOW Project Manager, Clayton McDowell said it had been specially designed for the huge task of dismantling and reassembling.
“It is ridiculously complicated, so we have a lot of people on board,” Mr Dowell said.
Solar energy is the only source of power.
Sustainable features include energy prediction and a control system using weather information, and power prices to predict energy storage increasing efficiency and reducing the demand on grid energy.
The outer wall of the house is made from lightweight foam concrete made from recycled crushed glass that insulates.
More than 100 roof tiles double as solar panels to generate electricity and hot water.
The decking is also made of recycled plastic bottles and recycled wood.
“It is there to challenge our social norms and current market in sustainable technology with changing power prices and use tariffs,” Mr Dowell said.
The house also uses recycled water through a natural water treatment device where water runs through and is cleaned, and a wall-based gardening system.
READ MORE at abc.net.au
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