What if planned communities are re-imagined when a wider, diverse group of individuals and families are taken into consideration? Planned communities are not a new idea, but this approach is to re-imagine a community with all the features and amenities that come with a planned community such as access to shopping, dining, parks, entertainment, medical facilities, schools and a sense of a neighborhood and at the same time integrating the elderly and the dying into this rich and vibrant environment. Rather than living out their last days, months and even years in an institution, the dying can simply live. The idea of a connected community has meaning and symbolism that serves to bring everyone together, to interact with one another in a physical personal way, and to be connected through technology by vastly improving our lives.
1). Think about proximity to your loved ones. Having access to be able to visit your loved ones at almost any time. But still providing families to have their own individual space and freedom and allowing our elderly parents, grandparents the dignity to live freely on their own.
2). Even if the individuals are the lone survivors, there can be mechanisms in place to allow people to "meet" and "learn" about one another. Events that highlight and celebrate the elderly in the community to offer and share their experiences, life stories. And because of the advancements in technology and accessibility within the community, it will allow the elderly to become "active" and productive participants in the community. They can teach classes, have jobs when possible, provide mentoring to the youth, share experiences at the school. This service can be used as a "credit" to offset their living expenses as well.
3). This new idea of a connected planned community offering such amenities can provide the ultimate "distraction." As cited in the article below from the Royal Trinity Hospice in Clapham, south London.:
"The biggest shocker for me was the significance of distraction," Jones says.
"We couldn't figure out why patients were constantly gathering around a television to watch game shows. By talking to them, we discovered that the distraction it offered was the source of its appeal. When we realised this, we began exploring options for other forms of distraction and interaction.”
With the emergence of a "connected" home through technology, what if an entire planned community was connected?
1). An elderly man or woman can simply "connect" to their loved ones through voice commands through integrated artificial intelligence within their place of residence that will easily connect them to a skype style video conferencing or phone call. This same technology can control room temperatures, turning on and off water for taking a bath, know time of day, even video record moments they want to share all through voice commands and or gestures. And when there is a need for medical attention, their doctors can be easily notified utilizing the same technology.
2). Autonomous wheelchairs and beds can easily navigate individuals who were before confined and immobile due to their illness or age.
3). Artificial intelligence both in the physical and digital realm can vastly improve anyone's lives and not just inclusive to the elderly, or the dying. But again, the idea is to seamlessly integrate technology to improve the lives of those in the community.
However, it's also the smallest moments that seem to make the difference when we look back at our lives. Some of the last dying wishes are the simplest, the everyday experience we take for granted.
"To enjoy a delicious ice cream cone."
"To attend my granddaughter's wedding."
"To see my favorite painting one last time."
"Turns out that life's simplest pleasures just might be its most meaningful."