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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