It is great to see more individuals and organizations take the quality of life of elderly citizens to heart. Over the last few years, we have seen some creative, human centric solutions for a few of the more challenging aspects of aging that enrich the lives of older seniors and everyone around them.
This collection of videos shows some great examples on how we can improve the quality of life of the elderly by doing what matters most: creating safe and stimulating environments where older seniors can spend quality time with people of all ages. These ideas are now being implemented in different countries around the world.
A care facility as a neighbourhood
The Netherlands has implemented several innovative ideas for older people in the past decade. In 2009, Hogewey opened it’s doors to over 150 residents. This pioneering centre for elderly who suffer from Dementia has in it’s design a main street, hairdressing salon, grocery store and restaurant. Seniors can go about their day with time outdoors, do some shopping without the need for carrying money with them or the risk of getting lost. They live in groups of 6 in homes that reflect 7 different possible "lifestyles" that reflect how the residents lived before they developed Dementia. The Hogewey village model is being adapted in Norway, Canada, the United States and Australia.
A 24 minute CNN documentary on Hogewey
Roommates: Students living with senior citizens
There are a few different ways the young and the old are starting to share spaces. Seniors might let out a room to a student in exchange for help with household tasks and for company. On the flip side, a few seniors homes are starting to open rooms up to students for free or for reduced rent in exchange for spending quality time with the seniors. This is a nice step in reducing the “care ghetto” effect that is created with segregated residences.
These music students in Cleveland Ohio entertain residents in exchange for room and board:
Preschools in seniors homes
Another growing trend we see in creating places for meaningful interaction with seniors is in the integration of daycares and preschools into seniors homes. Mount St. Vincent in Seattle is just such a home. With 125 children, ages zero to five, they spend five days a week sharing space with the seniors. This helps increase social interaction for the elderly and promotes mental agility while at the same time decreasing the feelings of loneliness and blood pressure too.
The kids also benefit. Children who are exposed to older adults at a young age find more value in the elderly at large and are less likely to develop the prejudices of agism. They learn to develop patience and acceptance of people with disabilities.
Here is the trailer of Perfect Present, a documentary on daycares in seniors homes by Evan Briggs, due out later this year:
A bicycle service for the elderly
Inspired by the Danish movement, "Cycling Without Age", young Scotsman Fraser Johnston takes seniors in residences out for bike rides in his special carriage bike, lifting their spirits with a bit of fresh air. Fraser is hoping to grow his project around Scotland. I have no doubt that this will be a popular way to spend time with seniors all across the globe.
Another project which promotes elderly people spending time outdoors, exercising and interacting with family are these senior playgrounds which have been popping up around Asia, Europe and now North America. Designs include interactive play structures and low-impact fitness equipment such as ellipticals, body flexors and static bikes. The social aspect of finding one place for different generations to be active together is a real plus for the sandwich generation, simplifying where their kids and older parents can exercise together.
It is our mission to contribute to the constant improvement of the quality of life of seniors, big or small. Wether that might be in attractive tools that aide with dressing, or with stylish accessories for mobility devices. With everyone working together, we can instigate an important evolution in elder care.