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Safer Homes for Ageing People

Ageing people experience weaker muscle tissues with time. This situation often results to certain limitations to carryout some tasks that use to be simple for the individual. Thus, a good number of old people experience some significant difficulty in carryout day to day activities such as rising from low seats, climbing stair ways, moving around some home furniture, walking stably on slippery floors such as those of bathroom etc. Consequently the ageing individual become dependent on other people to carryout even the least simple function.

The level of mobility challenge experienced by elderly people in homes however differs per individual. Thus, some mobility challenge for some individual is minute when compared to others. To counter these challenges and increase safety in homes where old people stay, certain le design measures most be considered to reduce or possibly eradicate certain barriers that limit the mobility. This paper covers a research that aims at proffering solutions to mobility limitations in homes of old persons, as well as revealing vital design consideration when setting up safer homes for the ageing population.

Introductions Mobility limitations in elderly people involve all forms of barriers that restrict easy movements in and around the home. These barriers to locomotion can be of several categories ranging from those caused by some biological factors associated with ageing, to those resulting from unfavorable choice of room furniture and home design. From the biological point of view, when people start ageing, there is a significant loss of senses.

These senses such as smell, hearing, sight and so on, are needed in most cases to alert the individual of an impending danger. For instance, an elderly person who has lost his or her sense of smell cannot detect the smell of cooking gas as it leaks from a gas cylinder and thus can set the whole house on fire if he or she mistakenly strikes a match. In addition to this, the muscle tissues of ageing people get more and more subtle and hence more locomotion difficulties are experienced.

With this situation, the individual becomes more and more reluctant to walk due to the fear of slipping and falling too often. On the other hand, mobility can be considerably restricted if the house is not properly structured for easy movement and access to frequently needed utilities. For instance, if the house or its environment has slippery floors it will definitely affect he elderly person’s willingness to move around. Designs Consideration for Mobility Enhancements in Homes

In a general sense, enhancing mobility requires all sorts of strategies that will promote easy accessibility to home infrastructures or utilities for the comfort of its users which in this case are ageing persons. By achieving this, there is an increased sense of safety in the elderly person and he or she is less confronted by the fear of slipping and falling thereby increasing the willingness to move around. To achieve this situation, proper design standards for setting up homes for elderly people must be adhered to. This standard is known as the Universal Accessibility Design Standard.

It is a design approach to a universally accessible standard in which all products, environments and communications will allow for the widest spectrum of people in our communities regardless of diversity, age and ability (Architectural Services Department, 1997, p10). In the sections that follow, an outline of the necessary design standards (flooring types and furniture required) for homes have been provided. Flooring Types • Timber (hardwood) This is particularly suitable for disable elderly persons with wheel chairs, as it allows easy rolling of the wheel chair.

It is however not necessary for person that are prone to falls as he or she may experience huge impact. In arranging the wood bars, ensure that open gaps between bar is minimal and uniform (see diagram below). CORRECT INCORRECT • Wool or Soft-Pad Carpets This is suitable for places where the elderly person usually experiences falls. Required Furniture • Standard Back Seats Back seats should be raised enough to ensure upright sitting position (see Diagrams) .

CORRECT INCORRECT Required Furniture • Use non-glaring electric lamps (see Diagram) CORRECT INCORRECT • Use as much wireless devices as possible to avoid over-crossing cables that might lead to falls • Provide intercommunication devices for easy communication References Architectural Services Department. (1997). The Principles of Universal Design. In Universal Accessibility; Best Practices and Guidelines , (Version 2. 0,Pp 10-13). Raleigh, NC: North Carolina State University

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