Old and Cold: Challenges in the Design of Personalised Thermal Comfort at Home

CHILDS, Charmaine (2015). Old and Cold: Challenges in the Design of Personalised Thermal Comfort at Home. In: CHRISTER, Kirsty, (ed.) Design 4 health: Proceedings of the 3rd European Conference on Design4Health. Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam University, 1-9.

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Abstract

The link between winter cold and illness is a major health concern because 'cold kills'. Worse still, old and frail older people can feel cold at any time of year. Solutions need to be found to increase thermal comfort. Whilst clothing manufacturers have produced garment solutions for people to enjoy outdoor activities in the cold, there is a gap in our understanding about how to protect frail/older people from becoming chilled and cold at home. To date no evidence exists on the benefit of innovative clothing interventions for keeping older adults warm (and healthy) in the home. Our aim therefore was to first understand the behaviours of older adults at risk of indoor cold, living in different domestic environments. Focus groups/semi-structured interviews were used to identify body regions where old/frail older people feel cold and to learn about their attitudes to traditional and modern fabrics and garments for keeping warm at home. Findings from a funded pilot study (RDSYH, Public Involvement grant) are presented. The body regions most vulnerable to thermal discomfort are trunk and extremities (feet, hands). Given the anxiety, discomfort, pain, reduced activity (including taking to their bed to keep warm in early evening) design/engineering-led solutions for a ‘smart’ warm clothing 'wardrobe' for today’s and tomorrow’s older people are needed. Feedback suggests that older people are open to fresh ideas about garments and technology; important to them being fabric weight. Older people do not, as often thought, wear outdoor clothes (hats, gloves, scarves) indoors, and are not averse to ‘modern’ fabrics and garments. Style remains important to many. These findings provide the first step towards identifying 'candidate' fabric, material and garment designs preferred and acceptable to older people for the next stage of work; development of ‘smart’ personalised thermal comfort solutions for health and wellbeing at home.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: Proceedings of the Third European Conference on Design4Health 2015, Sheffield, 13 - 16 July 2015
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Centre for Health and Social Care Research
Depositing User: Helen Garner
Date Deposited: 04 Aug 2016 08:57
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2016 23:00
URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/13112

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