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Paper w78-2010-139:
Old and at Home in an Intelligent Environment

Facilitated by the SciX project

Masi Mohammadi, Peter Erkelens

Old and at Home in an Intelligent Environment

Abstract: Due to the rapid aging of the Dutch population and aging-in-place policies, an increasing demand for suitable dwellings is to be expected. A significant contribution can be provided by domotics defined as: the advanced technological equipments and services in the domestic environment to sustain and to enhance the quality of aging in place as well as empowerment of the senior citizen (in daily life). This paper, based on literature review and qualitative and quantitative studies, (i) seeks to inform the development of domotics technology in the living environment of the older adults; (ii) provides an overview of the multiplicity of needs and attitudes of the older citizens regarding smart technology in the domestic environment; and (iii) develops recommendations to incorporate domotics in the architectural structure of the dwelling. Study to senior citizens’ needs and attitudes toward domotics is based on triangulation of cohort-group discussions, enabling techniques and in-depth interviews followed by a postal questionnaire survey. Hence, based on the identified needs, two houses, occupied by the elderly, have been upgraded by domotics. The findings indicate that needs, perceptions, environmental and personal attributes of the senior determine the attitudes towards automation. This attitude can best be described as ‘critical/positive’. Too much automation is undesirable. Ethical considerations are particularly related to professional stakeholders, especially caregivers, whereas seniors are mainly interested in the functionality of domotics. In the elderly housing, the stage of stand-alone devices is outdated. It should be focused on the networked home and the integration of domotics in the house. Innovation by addition in a traditional construction environment often results in sub-optimal solutions. The results confirm that the integration of intelligent technology in a house needs to be a synthesis of the user’s needs, technology, the living environment and healthcare.

Keywords: aging in place, domotics, attitude, residential needs, senior citizens, case study

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