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What does aging in place mean?

Elderly people these days are expressing a desire to remain in their own homes (aging in place) rather than move to retirement homes or move in with relatives.

As we age, our homes are going to have to be able to accommodate our changing needs. For example, we may need wider doorways and hallways for wheelchairs to fit through or grab bars in the bath.

The Aware Home project integrates industrial design, architecture, psychology, health, engineering, computers and assistive technology to try to build a home that can actually take care of its inhabitants.

Aside from the physical features mentioned above, an Aware Home would use something called "ubiquitous computing" to provide us with exactly what we need. A combination of wearable computing devices, gesture technology, RFID tags, home networking systems and LCD touch panels would allow an aware home to help the elderly age in place more comfortably. Some of the amazing attributes an aware home might be equipped with include a program to help you remember when to take your medicine. It would also give you other health tips and information about drug interactions.

The house would be equipped with memory assistance programs, such as one that could take pictures of you as you cook so you could keep track of what step you're on in the cooking process. It would have environmental readings, such as temperature, and the ability to ask you if it's too hot or cold in the house. There would be a program that could track how mobile you are and whether you're eating often enough; the house would also have the ability to place a call for help if you are ill or get hurt.

With an aware home, America's elderly population can be sure to age in place comfortably and safely.