Advances in technology continue to change our lifestyles. These changes are readily accepted by the general population, but very slow to be incorporated into the lives of people that could get the most benefits. These are people with handicaps and disabilities that need constant care and attention to maintain productive and rewarding lives. Such groups include patients with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
Technologies exist today that can alleviate much of the discomfort and suffering related to these debilitating diseases. New medical breakthroughs and medications can provide much needed help, but we should also simultaneously explore options that can improve the quality of life of such patients.
A fresh approach needs to be taken to develop special health care facilities that will address these issues and provide specific types of amenities to make life easier and more productive for such patients. There are two areas that should be analyzed to improve existing conditions.
Firstly, we can improve the physical layout of health care facilities to accommodate the specific needs of critical care patients. This includes design and planning issues related to the architecture of the buildings. The relationship of essential medical facilities and personnel to the residents becomes a critical issue. However, efforts must be made to maintain a sense of comfort and an ambiance that appeals to the residents. This is their “home” and this feeling should be reinforced at every opportunity.
Secondly, we should incorporate new materials and technologies to enhance the quality of life for the residents. These can become “intelligent buildings” that assist in caring for the residents as well as providing necessary information to keep them informed and connected to the community outside. This creates a sense of belonging, which reinforces the concept of “home”. These technologies already exist and many are on the horizon.
Many more ideas will surface as we begin to strategize and develop concepts to create the next generation of health care facilities for critical care. The goal would be to make the transition from private homes to these facilities as “seamless” as possible and help them to adjust to a new location quickly and effortlessly. This would bring a sense of security and well being to the residents and close family members who would feel that their loved ones are well, comfortable and connected.