The following is a list suggestions for designers from Paul Switzer, Professor Emeritus of Statistics, and of Earth and Environmental System Science at Stanford University. These suggestions are meant to inform design teams as they develop solutions for enabling personal mobility across the life span.
1. Annual professional suite of mobility/flexibility/strength/vision/hearing/cognition assessments should be covered by health insurance for individuals past age 70. The assessment would be followed by a tailored report recommending changes in exercise regimen, prescriptions for aids and devices, suggestions for targeted home improvements.
2. Continuous cushioned vinyl slip-resistant flooring should be recommended to reduce falls and facilitate movement with walkers and wheelchairs. After-installation application of a seam-filling slip-resistant finish should be available for all types of existing hard-surface floors.
3. Hand-rails/grips should be available for attachment to furniture such a beds, tables, kitchen cabinets. Hand-rails attached to walls should be height-adjustable.
4. Shoes and slippers should be designed with extra-wide openings, fold-over Velcro closure, and soles with good gripping properties.
5. Night lights could be built in or attached to edges of some furniture, and along baseboards.
6. Wash basins and bathroom counters should be set higher 32-36″ to avoid bending when washing up.
7. Canes, walkers, and wheelchairs should be available with whimsical designs or should have the ability to be personalized/decorated. They should be equipped with lights and bells and emergency alarm.
8. Wheelchairs/walkers should have built in or attachable rear-view mirrors and small stands at reading height for a book, phone, ipad, eyeglasses, audio player, or radio, and a hook for sweater, cap.
9. Full length mirrors should be used liberally in all rooms.
10. Closet hanging rods should be lowered.
11. Invent a walker with seat and retractable wheels for conversion into a “companion” wheelchair, or even a motorized wheelchair.
12. Power windows [with remote] for homes and apartments. Smart power windows with indoor/outdoor thermometers, rain sensors.
13. Microphones placed throughout the home that work through hearing aids.
14. Remote control for light switches and thermostats placed on the bedstand.