‘iMechE’ report; adapting homes to suit the needs of older people could counteract frailty, & reduce hospital visits.
The report argues remote monitoring, mobile devices and sensors will enable the elderly keep their independence and remain safe in the comfort of their own home.
“Healthy Homes: Accommodating an aging population” claims that physical in activity is costing the NHS £10 billion per year. £2.5 billion is being in spent on care because of poor housing.
The NHS is spending £414M p/year on treatment costs for people who have been living in unsuitable homes.
iMechE suggest that assistive furniture should be adapted so that they help the persons mobility without doing all the work for them. For example, using just enough force to help nudge a person to stand. This way the person is still using their muscles to get up and keep themselves upright, as opposed to the furniture doing all the work for them.
Installing handrails, lighting, socket height and slip-resistant surfaces will help lower the risk of falls, which is major cause of hospitalisation among elderly people. In New Zealand, for example,, basic modifications to the home have resulted in a 39 percent decrease in injuries amongst older people. This led to a 26 percent decrease in the need for medical treatment.
Lead author Dr Helen Meese; “About seven million UK homes are headed by someone aged over 65 years, who will undoubtedly need some form of assistive technology to help with everyday living, within the coming decade.
Homes built with older people in mind, as well as retrofit technology for our existing housing stock, could not only allow people to live in their homes for longer, but also massively reduce costs for the NHS and social care system.” However, “Demand for smart equipment and devices for older people has so far been slow, as many are poorly designed and aesthetically unappealing”, Meese said, “Instead of creating products only for older people, manufacturers should focus on creating products that are flexible and span the generations”
Janet Morrison, chief executive of Independent age, spoke to Digital Health News and said it was essential that planning and housing policy meet the care needs of the UK’s aging population “both now and in the future”.
“Housing that meets our changing needs as we age is essential if we are to ensure that older people live independently in their own homes for as long as possible. Building technology and innovation into the design of homes must be done in a way that meets the day-to-day needs of older people, for example by supporting care services at home, which can help reduce the number of people experiencing delays in being discharged from hospital”, – she said.