Tech built for outer space, and re­tirees

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Front Page -

so­cial tech­nol­ogy, with 44 per cent of over-75s go­ing on­line, half en­gag­ing with so­cial me­dia and a quar­ter of this age group us­ing tablets.

To cater to these res­i­dents, Aud­ley in­stalls su­per­fast broad­band as stan­dard in all its de­vel­op­ments. At its new site, Nightin­gale Place near Clapham Com­mon in south Lon­don, there are pro­grammable se­cu­rity fobs to ac­cess apart­ments, room sen­sors and pres­sure pads in bed­rooms that can tell when peo­ple have risen from bed. When com­pleted next year, it will have 94 one, two and three-bed­room flats as well as a restau­rant, pool and health club.

Jenny Hyde, 77, moved to An­chor’s Hamp­shire Lakes re­tire­ment vil­lage in Yate­ley in Jan­uary 2016. A high-speed in­ter­net con­nec­tion was a must-have, she says: “I use it con­stantly for send­ing emails to my friends who don’t live lo­cally, down­load­ing my news­pa­per, book­ing theatre tick­ets or a trip abroad and as part of my vol­un­tary work as a school gover­nor, which in­volves on­line train­ing cour­ses and as­sess­ments.”

Christo­pher God­dard, chair­man of house­builder Re­nais­sance Re­tire­ment, recog­nises the im­por­tance of pro­vid­ing high-speed broad­band to res­i­dents. “As a de­vel­oper it is our re­spon­si­bil­ity for our homes to be built in a way that en­sures ad­vanced ser­vices are avail­able to all our own­ers,” he said.

“We sup­ply the in­fra­struc­ture that al­lows them to pur­chase the in­ter­net pack­age that best suits their needs.”

Keith Di­ment, 81, was in IT for 30 years and de­pends on a good broad­band con­nec­tion for his wide range of on­line ac­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing bank­ing, con­sum­ing news, com­mu­ni­cat­ing with fam­ily and de­sign­ing web­sites. Di­ment, who is mar­ried to Jenny, 78, lives in Re­nais­sance Re­tire­ment’s Fleur-deLis de­vel­op­ment in Wan­tage, Ox­ford­shire. “I spend quite a lot of time sit­ting in front of my com­puter and would hate to be with­out a good broad­band con­nec­tion,” he says.

A strong net­work isn’t just needed to con­nect res­i­dents to the world wide web; it can also con­nect ob­jects to each other. The “in­ter­net of things”, emerg­ing tech­nol­ogy that links house­hold items such as heat­ing and kitchen ap­pli­ances, is now mak­ing life eas­ier for older peo­ple.

Home man­age­ment sys­tems from brands such as Nest and Hive can con­trol heat set­tings through­out the whole house if it is dif­fi­cult for the home­owner to move around.

These can be pro­grammed to turn on and off at var­i­ous times of day and can even be man­aged re­motely. Along these lines, lux­ury re­tire­ment op­er­a­tor Brio Re­tire­ment Liv­ing is equip­ping own­ers with a ded­i­cated con­trol sys­tem called My Home Up. It ad­justs tem­per­a­ture and ven­ti­la­tion, and of­fers com­mu­ni­ca­tion with on-site staff, as well as fam­ily and friends.

Such tech­nol­ogy can also help keep peo­ple healthy. Some re­tire­ment providers are look­ing into how de­vices that lis­ten to spo­ken com­mands and re­spond, such as the Ama­zon Echo and its vir­tual as­sis­tant Alexa, can ben­e­fit older peo­ple who may re­act more pos­i­tively to hear­ing a friendly voice.

Tech­nol­ogy can also help with physio, build­ing strength and get­ting peo­ple ex­er­cis­ing. LifeCare Res­i­dences, which op­er­ates Bat­tersea Place in Lon­don, has in­tro­duced its own­ers to a hi-tech cloud­based fit­ness pro­gramme called HUR SmartTouch. De­vel­oped in Fin­land for the over-70s, it of­fers ex­er­cises that ben­e­fit the legs, shoul­ders, arms and back. Own­ers log on to ma­chines with a HUR SmartTouch wrist­band, which sets the seat to the right height and the ma­chine to the cor­rect re­sis­tance.

“While it’s still early days, the re­sponse has been over­whelm­ing,” says Rob Whistle­croft from HUR SmartTouch. He says that more than 30 per cent of own­ers at Bat­tersea Place now un­der­take strength train­ing us­ing the pro­gramme.

“I’ve seen so many suc­cess sto­ries,” he adds. “One par­tic­i­pant, for ex­am­ple, is 167 per cent stronger than she was last year. But that’s just the start of her trans­for­ma­tion – the real change is in her con­fi­dence in her­self and the ease at which she can be ac­tive in her dayto-day life.”

At Hamp­shire Lakes, an award-win­ning Dutch in­no­va­tion renowned for its cut­ting-edge ap­proach to de­men­tia care is trans­form­ing the lives of those in Wil­low Gar­dens, its on-site care lights, and smart plugs that al­low him to turn on the elec­tric blan­ket, printer and bed­room light from the com­fort of his arm­chair.

He’s also in­stalled a so­lar-pow­ered mo­tion-sen­sor light on the front door, which il­lu­mi­nates the lock, and sen­sors in the kitchen and bath­room that turn the lights on when any­one en­ters the room.

“Mo­tion-sen­si­tive light­ing is good for peo­ple who can’t find a light switch in the dark, and also if they are car­ry­ing food from the kitchen – it means they don’t have to find a free hand to turn the light off,” he says.

“Re­tire­ment op­er­a­tors should in­stall smart plugs in all their prop­er­ties. It saves bending down be­hind the sofa if the plugs are in awk­ward po­si­tions, which can be dan­ger­ous.”

While sys­tems such as the Tovertafel may be be­yond the price range of your typ­i­cal down­sizer, re­tire­ment tech­nol­ogy doesn’t have to be cost-pro­hib­i­tive. Bai­ley says: “It only costs about £25 for a set of three smart plugs and a re­mote.”

Keith and Jenny Di­ment, left; an Ama­zon Echo, above; Bat­tersea Place res­i­dent Susie Bal­four with HUR trainer Rob Whistle­croft, above right

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