Other Free Encyclopedias » Medicine Encyclopedia » Aging Healthy - Part 2 » Human Factors - Human Factors Engineering, Mobility And Transportation, Living Environments, Computer Technology And Information Systems, Conclusion

Human Factors - Living Environments

people falls design home

Another area where human factors engineers can make important contributions is the design of living environments. Contrary to popular belief, most older people live in the community, either alone or with a relative. Many older people also spend a great deal of time at home. However, living at home is often challenging for older adults, as they find it difficult to perform tasks such as bathing, cooking, and cleaning. The rate of home accidents is high among older people. Problems with home activities and home safety are often linked to inappropriate housing design.

Falls among elderly people are common, and in fact represent a frequent cause of accidental injury and death. Furthermore, many older people restrict their activities because of fear of falling. Reasons for falls among the elderly include losses in vision, balance, and reaction time, and changes in gait. Common locations or sources of falls include stairs and steps; bathtubs and showers; ladders and stools; and tripping or slipping on throw rugs, runners, or carpets. Understanding the reasons for these falls will help uncover design solutions. Many falls on stairways occur because older people, due to declines in vision, fail to perceive the first or last step. This problem might be addressed by installation of more lighting in stairways and highlighting, through the use of color, the beginning and ending of steps. Handrails can also help remedy the problem. A more radical solution is to design housing without stairs, or to design in a way that minimizes the need for people to go up and down stairs. Strength and balance training has also been shown to reduce the risk of falls among the elderly and to reduce the consequences if a fall should occur. In all of these examples, the goal is to help insure a match between the capabilities of the older person and the demands of the task and the environment.

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