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Reimagining the beginning of life for a better end-of-life experience

As the future gets shorter, memories of the past become even more important. How to recreate the past for a better end-of-life experience?

Photo of Erik Mooij
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Who is your idea designed for and how does it reimagine the end-of-life experience?

This idea is mainly designed for caretakers for elderly people, whether it be professional institutions or family members. Its focus is on recreating comforting memories to create a better physical end-of-life experience in order to be more at ease with the final period in life.

Pictures of children and grandchildren. But also of good friends and memorable events. Typical objects that can be found in many rooms in elderly houses or living facilities. At the end of life, the beginning of (new) life becomes more and more important.

In The Netherlands, one institution took this notion a few steps further when redesigning housing for their elderly dementia patients. The Hogeweyk (http://hogeweyk.dementiavillage.com) village is a specially designed village with houses for dementia-suffering seniors, differentiated by lifestyle. Hogeweyk offers different lifestyles, like: homey, Christian, artisan and Indonesian.

Designing these spaces from a lifestyle perspective gives patients a more recognizable and thus, more pleasant environment to live in and a greater peace of mind. Their recollection of past times fits in better with these interiors and gives them a better end-of-life experience.

Redesigning entire facilities with these insights might not be manageable within the near future, but technology might help with that. There is a lot of ambient technology that can help (re)create atmospheres using technology. One good example of that is the LEF Future Center (http://www.rijkswaterstaat.nl/zakelijk/innovatie-en-duurzame-leefomgeving/lef-future-center/breakthrough-with-lef.aspx). LEF uses wall projections, furniture, colour, scent, catering, images and sound to create a customised atmosphere in a variety of spaces appropriate to the process. Ordinarily, this is used for brainstorm sessions, but creating new atmospheres can be used for any type of spatial design.

So if we would enhance all those pictures and paraphernalia, using ambient technology and insights in lifestyle design, to really create a personalized living environment where the beginning of life and end of life can come together?

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

We could contact elderly care facilities or hospices in the city to suggest an early experiment: for instance by setting up a room with smart A/V: projections of old photographs, fitting background music, etc. Enhancing the patient's room interior with lifestyle specific content could be a good way to start developing this idea.

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

I think that expertise on interior design and on ambient technology (light, music/sound, projection, scent technology), combined with a knowledge on lifestyle characteristics, could really help further develop this idea.

This idea emerged from

  • An OpenIDEO Outpost or Chapter
  • An Individual

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