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Look into the future

High-tech demo home makes living easier for seniors
By: Staff Report
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You don’t have to go to Disneyland to see a futuristic home model. Eskaton Senior Services, along with collaborating sponsors, including Intel, have built the senior home of the future complete with high-tech innovations, senior-friendly design elements and green technology at Lakemont’s Eskaton Village Roseville. Built to be a teaching tool for architects and senior homebuilders, the demonstration home is the latest in smart home technology and open to the public for touring. Spurred by the approaching baby boomer’s entrance into their senior years and their desire to age-in-place, Eskaton created a certified home program and started research on the senior homes of the future. Sheri Peifer, vice president of research and strategy planning said Eskaton’s focus was to bring quality home design for seniors into the public forum. “We want to be a positive catalyst in bringing senior home issues to people’s minds,” Peifer said. “We want people in the business to know that homes can be beautiful and still be barrier-free and livable. Then we want them to take this knowledge out to their circles.” Extra wide doors and hallways provide easy access and maneuverability by those in wheelchairs or who use walkers. No steps at entry ways or into the shower provide safety to homeowners. Accidental falls are among the leading contributors of senior deaths. Building senior-friendly elements into the home from the ground up is a cost-saving measure compared to retro-fitting items such as pull-bars and emergency devices, according to Peifer. Lakemont Homes built the demonstration home from the ground up working with the architectural firm of Jeffrey DeMure & Associates. The company’s Northern California division President Tom Bors said building the home was a rewarding experience. “In fact, the reaction to the master bath shower has been overwhelmingly positive so moving forward, a zero-threshold shower will be standard at Eskaton Village Roseville,” Bors said. “Our patio homes at Eskaton Village Roseville and Eskaton Village Placerville already incorporate several other of the universal design features included in the demonstration home.” Appliances are all located for ease of use. The microwave is set at waist high level with an adjacent counter. A drawer-styled dishwasher with a top-loading feature allows seniors to sit down for use. Clearance under the cook top also allows seniors to sit while they cook. Kathy Hatten, Eskaton’s demonstration home educator said LED bulbs are in all the recessed lighting and are just one of the many features that make the home inexpensive to live in. “We’ve used the LEDs wherever possible,” said Hatten. “On the average, they’ll only have to be replaced after 11 years. High tech is scattered throughout the house. Vital signs such as weight, glucose level and blood pressure can be taken daily and are immediately relayed to health professionals over a computer terminal. A touch screen panel in the center hallway enables the user to see if there’s someone at the front door, turn on and off lights, see the weather and set the thermostat. Another system is set up on the large-screen television in the living room. The GrandCare System allows family members to monitor the well being of the elderly family member from any distance. Discreet sensors will notify family if no movement is detected for an extended time period. Medications are housed in a sensory box for monitoring and reminders will be sent to resident and family members if not taken when prescribed. This system also enables e-mails and photo exchanges to take place between family members. The demonstration home is located in the Eskaton Village Roseville Community on Blue Oaks Boulevard. For more information visit www.eskaton.org or call 771-5151.