Tuesday 17 July 2018

OAPs get 'smarts' as iPads offer them new lease of life

Paddy Whelan (77) is a resident in one of 16 ‘smart’ apartments in Dundalk purpose-built with all mod cons to help OAPs stay independent. Photo: Damien Eagers
Paddy Whelan (77) is a resident in one of 16 ‘smart’ apartments in Dundalk purpose-built with all mod cons to help OAPs stay independent. Photo: Damien Eagers

Laura Lynott

High-tech pensioners using iPads to control their home heating system, ovens and windows have discovered a new lease of life.

The residents of an innovative housing scheme in Dundalk, Co Louth, can also use their smart watches to monitor exercise and sleeping patterns.

The homes feature in-built technology to allow individuals to live independently for longer.

Creators of the 'smart' scheme are now calling for the private sector to expand technological housing plans.

Great Northern Haven (GNH) apartments for older people in Dundalk provide remote controls to open and close blinds and windows, and buttons that increase or decrease the height of kitchen worktops, sinks and cooker hobs for those in wheelchairs or with access needs.

There are wide door frames for wheelchair access, alarms to notify the emergency services or family of a health issue and dementia friendly items such as old-fashioned radios that are easy to operate and reminiscent of times gone by.

The residents of an innovative housing scheme in Dundalk, Co Louth, can also use their smart watches to monitor exercise and sleeping patterns. Photo: Damien Eagers
The residents of an innovative housing scheme in Dundalk, Co Louth, can also use their smart watches to monitor exercise and sleeping patterns. Photo: Damien Eagers

Each resident is trained on how to use an iPad and many now read novels on their tablets. 'Smart' watches allow residents to monitor their exercise and sleep patterns. And sensors are placed in each of the 16 apartments monitoring the living patterns of tenants as they come and go to feed back into research on how housing is developing for older people.

Resident Paddy Byrne (69) said the apartment may help him avoid going into a nursing home in the future.

"I hope I never go into a nursing home because I'm happy here and I, like most older people, want to be independent. My health is good but it's a comfort to know this place is here.

"I use my iPad all the time, checking up facts and I take my own blood pressure. I have everything I need here."

GNH was launched by Cluid Housing Association in 2010 along with Louth County Council, Dundalk Town Council, the HSE and Dundalk Institute of Technology, which developed technology to be fitted into the apartments.

Irish Independent

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