Where do you want to spend your old age?
Many people want to live at home when they grow older. The "Smart House, Livable Community, Your Future" exhibition explores the housing trend of "aging in place" through the development of products and adaptive technologies that allow people to stay in their homes.
The first wave of 70 million baby boomers living in the United States will reach age 65 this year. With this generation predicted to live longer, planners are examining ways to create homes and communities that are more senior-friendly. The new exhibit at the University of Minnesota's Goldstein Museum of Design is an interactive display of what a Smart House of the future might look like.
The exhibition will look like a small, attractive home inhabited by fictional, 65-ish homeowners, Jim and Sarah. Visitors will be encouraged to try out everything they see, starting with a welcoming flat-threshold doorway. Jim and Sarah have renovated their 1960s home so that they can continue to enjoy their active, engaged lifestyle. Visitors can sit in a power-lifted chair, handle easy-to-use-kitchen utensils, scoot around the kitchen on a wheeled chair to try out lower counters, operate an easy-open window, sit in a fully-adjustable desk chair at an ergonomically-designed desk, and observe wall colors and lighting that ameliorate the impact of changing vision. The bath will feature a walk-in shower and reinforced wall for grab bars. Visitors will learn about a Fall Guard alert system, auto-dispensers for medications, special environmental controls, and tools and technologies that allow Jim and Sarah to do the activities they enjoy and keep them connected to the world.
The exhibit opened on February 5 and can be viewed through May 22, 2011. The museum is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10:00am to 4:00pm, Thursday from 10:00am to 8:00pm, Saturday and Sunday from 1:30pm to 4:30pm. It is Closed Mondays and all University Holidays.
This exhibit is curated by Marilyn Bruin, a Housing Studies student, and Jodene Riha, a graduate student, and made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.