MIT: Innovative Designs Will Soon Transform Aging in Place

The rising number of aging Americans is likely to drive transformation in how seniors age in place, from technology advances to real estate designs, according to a recent report from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Center for Real Estate.

The latest census data shows the number of Americans age 65 or older is projected to be 83.7 million by 2050, according to the report, which was sponsored by financial holding company Capital One (NYSE: COF). This looming influx of seniors is anticipated to expedite the development of new, senior-oriented technologies and housing designs, many of which could prove relevant to seniors who opt to remain in their own homes as they age.

Though some seniors may choose to move to urban assisted living communities or flock to suburban “civic centers” in the future, financial constraints may make it necessary for others to age at home or with a loved one. Extended families will still look for comfort and privacy, possibly leading to more interest in shared living spaces, according to Albert Saiz, director of the MIT Center for Real Estate.

“In some cases, we will see more family compounds with finished basements and adjacent in-law buildings where families can take care of their seniors,” Saiz told Home Health Care News.

Still, many older homeowners tend to have high equity in their homes, which may make it easier—and cheaper—for them to remain in place, at least when not factoring in the cost of a caregiver.

“Most seniors will still live by themselves due to cost concerns,” Saiz said.

Future architects and interior designers will likely come up with design improvements to make homes more comfortable for older adults, the report surmised. That could include new technology, such as remote sensors that monitor seniors, automatized pill and IV dispensers and the robotization of various services.

Already, some homebound seniors benefit from home care monitoring technology from retail giant retail giant Best Buy (NASDAQ: BBY), or don smart watches that track their vital signs. But more breakthroughs may be on the way, especially given a widely predicted senior care labor crisis.

“As life expectancy and quality of medical care continue to rise, the number of elderly people per working age citizen… is going to increase,” Saiz said. “We will require technologies to play a role.”

Written by Tim Regan

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Tim Regan
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