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Ergonomics Help Elderly Age in Place


Certified Aging in Place Specialists and product designers are developing ergonomically designed homes and appliances that will allow the 78 million aging U.S. baby boomers to �age in place� (live independently in their own homes for longer periods of time) rather than moving to retirement communities or assisted living facilities.

Mark Baskinger has been working with GE Appliances on developing a line of products that will make daily activities easier to perform for the elderly. "The key in designing products for the aging population is to make things extremely usable, readable and accessible."

A recent article published by the Wall Street Journal expands on this theme. New technology is enabling manufacturers of appliances and bath fixtures to design for the senior surge (Designing for the Senior Surge � Makers of Appliances, Bath Fixtures Target Aging Boomers; Cooking for the Forgetful; April 25th, 2008; Sara Lin).

To simulate some of the disabilities typically associated with aging, product evaluation may require testers to plug their ears with cotton to simulate hearing loss, wear goggles that blur their vision to simulate visual loss, and use gloves to impede coordination and sensation to simulate arthritic joint changes or nerve damage.

Traditional changes in home construction to accommodate seniors and those with disabilities have included:

Newly designed ergonomic products and appliances for seniors include:

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Marji Hajic is an Occupational Therapist and a Certified Hand Therapist practicing in Santa Barbara, California. For more information on hand and upper extremity injuries, prevention and recovery, visit Hand Health Resources.

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