An Application of the Universal Design in Integrated Living Arrangements for Elderly People in Thailand
In Thailand, the environment suitability of the integrated housing for older people is still limited. Thus, this research aimed to apply the concept of Universal Design in the study of the suitability of integrated living arrangements for the elderly and stipulate the design of integrated living arrangements for the elderly in Thailand. The data was collected from the elderly residing in the government’s centers for development of social welfare for the elderly. They were 106 participants with four age ranges 60 64 years, 65 69 years, 70 74 years, and 75 or above. The study used three types of tests behavioral interviews and the need for space and utensils, tests on the use of space and utensils, and records of participant behavior. The tests on the use of space and utensils included ten apparatuses handrails, bathroom fittings, electrical switches, power sockets, door knobs, handles and bolts, stairs, ramps, interior and exterior floors. The results showed that a handrail should be at least 4.5 cm. in diameter and should be at least 5 cm. from the wall and not less than 12 cm from the mounting point. The bathroom should be equipped with multiple handrails to help stabilize the elderly. The wall handrail should be horizontal or L shaped. The non wall handrail should be folding wall mounted or T shape floor mounted. The sanitary ware used should be a flat sanitary ware with a height of about 400 mm. The faucet should be a lever type faucet because it was easy to use and it needed less physical effort to turn. Electrical switches should be installed at a height of 120 cm. from floor level while power sockets should be installed at a height of 90 cm. from the floor. Door knobs or level type knobs should be used because of their ease of use and ease to close with low physical effort. On the contrary, the use of handles and bolts should be avoided. The rise of stair should have a height of about 13 cm. and not less than 47 cm. for the run to accommodate the use of the elderly. The ramp should have a slope ratio of not less than 1 12. Interior and exterior floors must be covered with a non slip surface so that the elderly can easily walk or use a wheelchair. According to the need for space, the elderly needed space about 1.44 sq.m. per person for the rest areas. Whereas, sleeping areas should be no less than 12 sq.m. per person. The bathroom should have free space, without obstructions, of at least 1.50 x 1.50 m. The study concluded that the seven principles of the Universal Design can be applied to assess the suitability of the environment for the integrated housing of the elderly and to design an integrated housing design for the elderly appropriately.
Elderly, Integrated Living, Universal Design