Vertical Aging: The Digital Neighbour Network

This report is one in a series by UHN’s OpenLab titled Vertical Aging: The future of Aging in Place in Urban Canada.

This first in the series, looks at the Digital Neighbour Network. Seniors want to age in place and avoid institutional care for as long as possible. Long-term care with its structured programming and regimented schedules, has been criticized by seniors for removing some of the fundamental aspects of being human: self-determination, autonomy and choice. However, in order to remain at home, most seniors will need some type of support to get by. Neighbour-to-Neighbour networks may help fill that gap, especially if located within the same building or neighbourhood.

AMS Healthcare partnered with UHN OpenLab to explore the trend of Canadian seniors increasingly moving to urban apartments, condos and co-ops in order to remain living independently. The project saw the AMS-funding support OpenLab efforts to develop products and technology-enabled solutions to support seniors while aging in these vertical communities. That funding has resulted in the 3 high-potential concept models that could shape the future of aging in place presented in the ‘Vertical Aging’ reports.

These models take the decades-old concept of a Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC) – regular residential building that have become home to a high density of older adults- and reimagines them within the context of the tech-driven world of today and the near future. And it does so with due consideration for enabling seniors to age in place with choice and dignity, and without losing sight of what it means to be human.