New “minka” house at USI helps improve independence when aging


If you visit USI, you will find a new house in the center of campus.
It’s not just any home; it’s designed to become a smart-home with a very unique purpose.
“I came here to give you these keys. These are the keys of the future,” said Minka founder Dr. Bill Thomas.  
The future is independent aging,  and this house will make it possible.
“The intention is to create an affordable housing platform that can be adopted to meet the needs of people of different ages and abilities,” dean of nursing and health professions Dr. Ann White told Eyewitness News.
It’s called a “minka”, which comes from a Japanese term meaning “house of the people.”
“USI’s gonna be a leader in aging and independence-oriented aging, and this is the laboratory that is going to guide that work,” said Thomas.
Built in under a week, the minka is the result of a year-long pilot project called “MAGIC” (Multi-Ability, Multi-Generational, Inclusive Community) which is geared toward changing our culture’s view of aging.
“The magic curriculum is really focused on understanding the value of bringing people of different ages together and the importance of bringing people of different abilities together,” said Thomas.  
USI students will take classes and work to create a smart-home that is functional and affordable.
“It is amazing. We have been working on this for the last year and now it’s like it’s all come together, and it’s real,” said White.
However, if you’re in the market for a smart house like this you may  have to wait in line.
“My wife and I and the dog, are going to be living in it. That’s next week.  Movin’ in there — next week,” USI president Dr. Ronald Rochon joked with the crowd.
As of right now, this house is one of a kind here, but in the future, Dr. Thomas says, don’t rule out the possibility of a Minka community. In

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(This story was originally published on October 24, 2018)

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