Thailand has become a completely aging society since 2021, meaning the seniors (60 years and over) are occupying 20% of the total population. Additionally, the National Statistical Office also predicted that, by 2031, Thailand will become a completely aging society.
What’s brought to us today by this shift? Apart from changing routines and eating habits to be more nutritious and clean, housing is another important concern. Home is a place where we spend more time each day. And that’s especially for the seniors, as they don’t have to go out for work and can enjoy themselves at home throughout the day. As a result, preparing indoor and outdoor spaces with the seniors in mind is highly recommended. This extends to both the environment and usage to create a functional, yet supportive area for the elderly in time. Undeniably, this type of residence that unties these issues helps promote the quality of life of the seniors, both physical and mental.
Mobility is equal to physical health
What conforms design and construction to the aging society is mobility, as with their physical conditions, the seniors can exert less force in doing things. The distance they reach to grab something or walk may be less than before while some of them may rely on devices such as canes or wheelchairs. As a result, these devices should be kept in mind when coming to the design. For instance, the width of a corridor should be changed from 1 meter to 1.5 meters so that a wheelchair can be turned around or parked; a parking space should be changed from 2.4-2.5 meters to at least 3 meters so that the seniors can get off the car conveniently and aid equipment can be prepared without any obstacles in terms of space.
With respect to the design, openings do need to be lowered to ensure that the seniors can enjoy the outside greenery while sitting, with more proper stair steps, specifically 25-30 cm for threads and 15-17 cm for risers as these sizes suit walking of the elderly, allowing them to exert not too much energy and reducing possibilities of knee injuries. Walkways should not be too narrow to be uncomfortable and should not be too wide to lead to risks of accidents such as falling. The distance in between should facilitate mobility and daily life, which is a way to boost well-being.
The environment nourishes mental health
An aging society is where people desire to stay closer and be surrounded by nature more. They wish to have a talk with people of the same age, exchanging things or doing activities together. The environment in this respect covers locations, contexts and atmosphere through to green areas. All of these have a direct effect on mental health, and, sometimes, physical health.
Therefore, a home that nourishes both mental and physical health of the seniors should come with an environment that embraces lifestyle. For example, outside the building, there is a large big-leafed tree to trap pollution before it gets in; or water elements to refresh moods and relaxation; a chilling area where they can meet friends of the same and other ages, such as a pavilion, multi-purpose courtyard. At the same time, the interior design and composition should also boost the relaxing atmosphere. Pleasant indoor and outdoor atmospheres allow the seniors and other generations to enjoy an improved quality of life and happy souls.
Safety in all areas
What’s indispensable is that the house must be of high safety. The more safe it is, the better it becomes, as the seniors, who are over 60 years, start to have a deteriorating physical condition. They are not as healthy as before while also getting sick more easily and prone to injuries. Therefore, the design must ensure the safety of users. Or in case of being unavoidable, such accidents should cause only minor injuries.
A safe residence can be designed in several ways; for example, picking a material that absorbs impact; installing aid devices throughout, e.g., handrails in the bathroom or passenger elevators, as well as using remote-controlling technology such as Smart Home to make sure family members can better monitor the elderly. With all these, the seniors can also live their life independently with better safety.
Even though there are no elderly persons we know that require special care or they may still be able to live on their own, as every year passes, we are aging and approaching the aging society even more. Therefore, getting prepared for the aging society today is the best way to make your house ready for the change.