Equal access to sex workers

A woman wearing a mustard coloured jumper is hold the the hands of someone who is hugging her from behind. There is no head, just the torso.Almost everyone likes a hug, and sometimes something a little more intimate. Being a resident in an aged care home should not be a barrier to having this kind of intimacy whether it’s from a sex worker or a partner. An article in Aged Care Insite, Sex work in aged care more than just physical, discusses the issues of intimacy and sex work and “skin hunger”. For some clients of sex workers it is about being close and touching another human being rather than sexual intimacy. It’s about feeling the warmth of another body, feeling their heartbeat and breathing. When it comes down it, older people have the right to access sex and intimacy services just like anyone else – age shouldn’t be a barrier. However, those who live in their own homes might be in a better position than those in an aged care facility. Time for policies on this aspect of aged care to be universally designed?

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Which way is up?

A sign post with one sign saying this way and the other saying that way.Signalling the right way to go has to account for cognitive abilities, visual acuity, and spatial awareness. As people age some of these abilities decline. Consequently, considering the needs of this group in wayfinding design will make wayfinding easier for everyone.  Mishler and Neider have identified five key points and explain them in detail in their article. They are: 

  1. Distinctiveness: the information should have cues that are informative to the route and can be distinguished from the surroundings.
  2. Consistency and standardisation: information overload can be avoided with the consistent placement, size, colour and shape of signage.
  3. Simplicity: limiting each sign to three or four units of information, because people tend to glance rather than read, and avoid visual clutter.
  4. Isolation: keep the signs away from other visual clutter to help focus attention in the right place.
  5. Reassurance: letting people know they are still on the correct route especially if the destination is a long way from the directional sign.

The title of the article is, “Improving Wayfinding for Older Users with Selective Attention Deficits”, in Ergonomics in Design.  Here is part of their conclusion:

“Because maps and other layout information may not be easy for older adults to use, providing environmental support through wayfinding signage might be the best way to mitigate these difficulties. However, visual selective attention, which is needed to find and read a sign, declines in old age, which makes it particularly important to adhere strictly to certain guidelines for signage design.

Adhering closely to the principles of distinctiveness, consistency and standardization, simplicity, isolation, and reassurance should help not only to improve wayfinding performance for all users but also to reduce the performance gap between older and younger users.

Providing age-inclusive signage could help to maintain high mobility in older adults, prevent them from becoming isolated from their communities, and therefore help to avoid the mental and physical health issues that tend to be comorbid with age-related isolation. Age-inclusive signage design is therefore an increasingly important topic in an aging population.”   

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Retiring Retirement

Red Green and Yellow balloons with 100 printed on them in white.Is it time to retire the word “retirement”? Does it have the same meaning now as it did 30-40 years ago? Ending paid work, especially if it wasn’t enjoyable, makes the idea of a permanent holiday a dream come true. But is it? For those who are not the retiring type, the notion of being on holiday for up to 40 years is not something they relish. They want to keep going past the nominated pensionable age. So this area has no one-size-fits-all solutions. But one thing common to all, is having the ability to get out and about and access everyday activities and be welcome everywhere, and to have a home that accommodates issues of ageing. That is, let’s have more universal design rolled out so we can have the choice to do what we want as we age. The BBC webpage has an interesting story about a 106 year old man who continues his medical work on a voluntary basis. Examples of centenarians still working include a barber, who has been cutting people’s hair for 95 years, and aYouTube star aged 107, who teaches her million followers how to cook dishes such as fried emu egg.  

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Housing and older people: four strategies

A brick house showing small pane windows and window boxes with a green hedge in frontIn his conference paper, The Future of Housing for the Elderly: Four Strategies that Can Make a Difference, Jon Pynoos continues to advocate for accessible housing and home modifications. His arguments are not new – they just need to be kept up, given there has been no change in Australia or the USA since this campaign began some 20 years or so ago. It is not a long article, but gives an overview of some of the issues preventing good renovation design and design of new homes. He then discusses some of the particular issues in the USA including older people ageing in ageing buildings. As for new homes, he cites building standards as being the biggest barrier to creating homes that will suit people throughout their lifespan, and that won’t need modifications later on. Professor Pynoos adds more evidence on the failure of voluntary codes in this regard. His conclusions join the dots between all the elements that would make for successful lifelong homes. Jon Pynoos is well known in housing and home modification circles. Over his long career he has campaigned for accessible home designs and universal design through his many articles and conference presentations. 

The article was published by The Gerontological Society of America,  Public Policy & Aging Report, 2018, Vol. 00, No. 00, 1–4

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Alternative age friendly handbook

Front cover of the handbook. Simple layout white with black textAlternative to what? you might ask. An Alternative Age-Friendly Handbook, with acknowledgement to the WHO’s work on age-friendly cities, takes a different approach to creating age-friendly urban places and spaces. Focusing on small scale age-friendly urban actions the handbook takes the reader through some useful thinking processes. First, it avoids the language of “apocalyptic demography” where an ageing population is described in terms of disaster and catastrophe. Then it moves on to the participatory approaches that have evolved over the last ten years. “This handbook is, thus, intended for these ‘Other’ urban practitioners who have not, as yet, necessarily engaged with the ‘urban ageing agenda’ and is offered here less as a prescriptive guidance (a how-to on Age-friendliness) and more as a portable reference to inspire critical reflection, action and possible intervention.”

A refreshing presentation of a handbook – not the classic “how to” format. Rather a creative “think about…”  While this is from the perspective of older people, much of the thinking and many of the processes apply to all age groups. It looks like a long document, but that is because it is in large print. An easy and engaging read.  Published by the University of Manchester Library. 

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Let’s get physical at home

Lounge room with two white couches with blue cushions. A rocking chair with red cushions is also in the pictureIn the rush to get people walking and being “active travellers” we’ve forgotten a place that most of us walk everyday – our home. This becomes even more important for people who have difficulty getting out and about in the outdoor built environment. So what features should we be looking at in indoor environments to encourage physical activity?  Maureen C Ashe is interested in this question. Her book chapter, Indoor Environments and Promoting Physical Activity Among Older People, looks at the issues. You will need institutional access for a free read from SpringerLink.

Abstract: Our house, our homes, ourselves: who we are, and the places that we inhabit are indelibly interwoven. Data are fast accumulating on the significant role of the outdoor built environment and physical activity (and health). For populations such as older adults with (or without) mobility impairments, a poorly structured built environment can significantly restrict community engagement. Despite the fact that we spend most of our lives indoors, there is far less empirical evidence to discern features of the indoor environment that influence physical activity. There is a need to focus on buildings incorporating age-friendly designs to support “ageing in place,” to build homes (and communities) that nurture social interaction, and identify destinations and routines that encourage adoption of activity into daily life habits.

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Environments in an Ageing Society

Front cover of the publication.White background with purple line graphics and textThis year the topic for the annual review of Gerontology and Geriatrics is Environments in an Ageing Society: Autobiographical Perspectives. The contributors have long-standing research careers – some are well known in Australia: Edward Steinfeld, Jon Pynoos, Laura Gitlin, Susanne Iwarsson, and Sheila Peace. The chapters cover home, neighbourhood, ageing in place, and social change. Each chapter is written from the researcher’s perspective providing reflections of their experience and learning. As an academic publication you will need institutional access for a free read, or you can purchase chapters separately. Here is the introduction:

Through the autobiographical perspectives of 16 preeminent researchers and scholars of Environmental Gerontology, this state-of-the-art Annual Review critically examines the broad range of topics that comprise this interdisciplinary field. The writings of these individuals, who have contributed to and shaped the growth of the field over the past three-plus decades, trace the growth and evolution of Environmental Gerontology and provide understanding of, and insights on, the role of environments for older adults and an aging society at multiple levels.    

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Preferences of older people in residential design

Aerial view of high rise buildings in Hong KongGuy Luscombe did a great report on his findings from a study tour of residential settings for older people. He found aspects such as natural light were of important to residents. A similar study was undertaken in Hong Kong looking at age, gender, marital status, etc., to see what their design preferences were. The importance of living in a space you like has ongoing health benefits (or detriments if not). This is a fairly thorough study using qualitative techniques which looks at residents preferences. Differences emerged about windows, but there seemed to be some general agreement about bedroom size. The title of the paper is, Comparison of facilities management in private domestic buildings among different elderly groups in Hong Kong.  Here is the last part of the abstract:
“The result shows that satisfaction with natural daylight was significantly different among elderly people of different genders, while the one-way between-groups ANOVA indicates that satisfaction with the size of bedrooms, turning spaces at doors, temperature in bathrooms and/or toilets, colour, accessibility and ease of closing or opening the doors were significantly different among elderly people belonging to different age groups and of different marital status and education level. Designers and private developers are therefore recommended to increase the sizes of bedrooms, install windows on opposite sides of walls in the flats and ensure there is an adequate light reflection ratio for wall and floor colours, in order to accommodate elderly people’s special characteristics.”  

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