In my last blog post I talked about the importance of designing for an aging population. In particular, I discussed how to adjust design for those with difficulty hearing. In this post I will outline two design options for those with decreased mobility, which is another change that happens with aging. According to Kroemer, the top two issues people over 55 report having trouble with are locomotion and bending (2006).
It can be difficult for older people to bend down and fill or empty the bottom drawer of a standard dishwasher. They might also have trouble closing the dishwasher door, because it requires them to reach to floor level and pull up. Because of this, having a drawer-style dishwasher at waist height could be helpful for an older individual with mobility problems. A good example of one of these dishwashers is the Fisher & Paykel DD24SAX9_N Single DishDrawer Dishwasher. Shown to the left is an image of this product. In this image there are two of these on top of one another, but for a person with mobility issues it would be best to only have a top washer to avoid bending down. One downside to having a single drawer washer is that it can’t hold as many dishes as a typical one; however, it would not be an issue for the population most in need of this washer. It is likely they live alone or with one other person if they are older and have problems bending, so they would not make many dirty dishes. A benefit of this dishwasher is that it runs at “a very low decibel rate,” so it is very quiet. This is helpful for those with hearing problems.
Falls are one of the top reasons for elderly hospitalization, and many falls occur in the bathroom (Mwanri & Fuller, 2003). Special considerations should be taken when designing showers for the elderly. For one, the floor of the shower should not be slippery in order to decrease the likelihood of a fall. This can be done by texturizing the surface. Secondly, showers should include many grab bars in case a fall does begin to occur. Thirdly, the shower should be large enough for one to move easily in, and there should not be a high ledge that the person must climb over to enter. Finally, the shower should have a seat in case the user gets tired of standing and needs to take a break. Below is an image of a shower that incorporates all these features and would be a good option for an older person with mobility issues.
Kroemer, K. (2006). Designing for Older People. Ergonomics in Design: The Quarterly of Human Factors Applications, 14(4). Retrieved from http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/106480460601400407
Mwanri, L., & Fuller, J. (2003). Falls in the elderly: Challenges and opportunities in the rural settings: The Whyalla case. Preliminary report. Health Education, 103(5), 296-304.