Mason Hosts Conference on Assistive Technology and Senior Housing

Public policy experts, start-up entrepreneurs and real estate professionals gathered last September 19 at Founders Hall at George Mason University’s Arlington campus for an inter-disciplinary conference on assistive technology and senior housing design.

Addressing an Aging Population

With almost one in five Americans soon expected to be over the age of 65 years old, the conference speakers focused on federal and local policy initiatives to ensure accessibility to employment and spaces, technological innovations to support and expand this accessibility, and trends in development and design of senior housing.

Speakers on policy initiatives represented the National Institutes of Health, the Department of State, Arlington County, and government contractor Qualcomm.  Technological innovation presentations included on-demand sight assistance through a Google-glass enabled platform from start-up Aria and a personal companion and home care assistant robot from George Mason alumni start-up INF Robotics.

Innovation in Building Places for Aging

Chris Gordon, a principal with KGD Architecture, explained the principles of universal design which require buildings and communities to be designed with flexibility to meet the changing needs of all segments of the population, including groups with disabilities and seniors.

John Scott and Matt Fowler, of Scott-Long Construction, a Chantilly-based construction company focused of building health care facilities and senior housing in the metropolitan DC area, presented the latest design characteristics of memory care facilities with skilled nursing that specifically caters to patients with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and other types of memory problems.

Steve Ruiz of Moseley Architects who has worked all over the country on all types of senior housing projects, reported that there has been an increase in the number of projects in many states due to high demand.  More technology is being wired into the buildings to enhance security (enhanced patient monitoring and entrance control), connectivity (remote connection with family members), and safety (medication management and care tracking).  One recent innovation is designing interior lighting to provide patients with light consistent with natural circadian cycles to help healthy sleep cycles.

An Inter-Disciplinary Approach

The conference was jointly hosted by Professor J.P. Auffret of the School of Business, the Center for Real Estate Entrepreneurship (CREE), and the Northern Virginia Regional Health Information Organization.

“We were pleased to collaborate on this conference as one of the topics of interest to CREE is the need for innovation in the design, development and construction of livable and accessible places for aging populations,” said Eric Maribojoc, the director of CREE. “This will require an inter-disciplinary and multi-industry approach as reflected in the breath of expertise among our conference speakers and the diversity in professional backgrounds among our conference audience.  We look forward to more of these kinds of gatherings in the future.”

(pictures from Moseley Architects)

(Conference presentations can viewed at


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