Design, Well-Being and Ageing Study

Subject: Design
Pages: 7
Words: 1993
Reading time:
10 min
Study level: PhD


The following is a research proposal on design, well being, and ageing. Design is a major component of research that affects human life. The concern in this research is on the death because of fuel poverty in the United Kingdom. Part one of this research will explore the objectives of the research. The second part will focus on the literature related to designing and its implication on health and specifically on the old members of the society. The proposal will discuss the methods that will be applied in development of the project to address how design can assist people in old age in order to live healthy and happy life. It will explore the methodologies used in the research to identify the problems faced by the elderly in the society.

Research Objectives

The objective of this research is to look into the development of a product that will address the challenge faced by the old people. The product will incorporate knowledge on design and health as well as medical issues in development of the product.

The second objective of this research is to explore better ways of managing and conserving energy thus reducing the effects of fuel poverty. It will explore what can be done to improve the housing structure through insulation to make them warm during winter.

Scope of the Research

The scope of this research is on the United Kingdom and its focus is in developing a product that will improve the health of the elderly in a cost effective way.

Justification of the Research

In the United Kingdom there were over two hundred deaths that occur during winter (Tim 2008). The United Kingdom is the leading country in winter deaths in Europe with eighteen percent. More than two thousand and five hundred people live in fuel poverty and they cannot afford fuel for their homes during the cold season. The intense cold is associated with diseases such as stroke and hypothermia. Due to the decreased movement in the cold season, cases of diabetes and other lifestyle diseases increase during the cold season (World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) 2007). Coming up with products that will address this problem will help not only the older people but also the society. The United Kingdom has over fifteen million people who are above sixty-five years and the figure will double by the year 2050. It is therefore imperative to develop products aimed at making the life of the aged comfortable and healthier (ACIL Consulting, 1999.)

Literature Review

Successful aging has two components that are important in the well-being of the elderly in the society. The first component is that of freedom from disease and disability (Agyeman 2003). The second component of successful old age is that of physical and cognitive ability to participate in the social life. The second component is usually dependent on the first aspect relating to health. Health is important for the aged and developing ways of keeping the aged people in good health will be necessary (Rowe 1998). When a person is healthy participating in the social and public life is easier and enjoyable for the elderly compared with times when one is unhealthy (Cooper & Hagan 1999).

There have been efforts to study and develop designs that address the well-being of the aged people in the society. The aged people in the modern times are finding themselves living alone in their homes as their children are busy and they therefore have to take care of themselves (Rydin 2003). The prospect of living in a nursing home is not accepted and older people opt to stay in their homes or in places they are familiar (Cutler 2006). Staying alone when ageing comes has many challenges considering the fact that aged body malfunctions and it is prone to diseases and other infections (Stark 2004).

Various products are in the process of development to address the aged people in the society. For instance, there have been houses developed to specifically deal with the issues of housing for aged people (Charles, Gatz & Reynolds 2001). They are in such a way that the old person can use the appliances and equipment in the home safely even when the memory has lapsed. The issue of design helps to create products that address the challenges faced by the old people (Zacks 2000).

The greater part of the research in this area has focused more on the issues that affect the aged members of the society in matters of architecture and medicine. However, there is rarely much attention focused on the role of design in relation to health aspects. The old people in the society are usually affected by cold for a number of reasons. First, as the body ages it produces less heat therefore making it susceptible to cold weather conditions (Bass 2006). In addition, the body loses more heat if the houses where the old people live do not have insulation from heat loss (Clarke 2005). When the housing structure loses heat, it implies that there is need for more heat and energy to keep the house warm (Belansky et al. 2006). Most people above the age of sixty-five survive on their pensions and are unable to fund the high electricity and fuel bills that result from high use of energy to warm the houses (Satariano & Wilcox 2006). This is the major cause of fuel poverty where people cannot afford fuel to keep their houses warm during winter (Tim 2008). Looking for alternative methods of keeping warm in the cold season is therefore important (Austad & Masoro 2006). There are a number of ways of keeping the houses warm in the cold season without having to use a lot of energy. The first one is using warm clothing that insulates the body from exposure to the cold air. Warm clothing is one of the most effective alternatives during the cold season (Bassuk et al. 2006).

The other area of design that will have effect on the old people is designing of energy efficient homes (Andrews 2001). These are homes that are intended to keep the house warm even during the cold season using very little energy (Buzar 2007). Insulating the house using paints that keep the house warm is one of the strategies (Zacks 2000). Most old people stay indoors during the cold season consuming a lot of fuel when they are not involved in another activity (Cole 1999). Developing a method such as an indoor recreation to make the old people active in their homes will be very important to them (Lloyd 2003). Indoor recreation using technology that will make the old people mind be engaged helps in reducing stress and depression (Mather 2005). Activities such as weight lifting or jogging machines will help them to keep fit and healthy (Brindley 2003).

Other than the fuel poverty, the other causes of death in the country are falls because of slippery floors (Lord, Menz & Sherrington 2006). Creating houses such that they are not slippery will assist the old people to move around thereby improving their health and protect themselves from diseases such as arthritis and stroke (Holtzclaw 2004). Developing indoor sports facility in homes for the elderly will assist them to cope with idleness and loneliness that result from staying indoors during the cold seasons (Littig 2005).

The government of United Kingdom must look for ways of creating better methods of dealing with the increased deaths resulting from fuel poverty (Basiago 1999). Addressing fuel poverty by creating awareness on how to conserve energy as well as how to warm the houses during winter will assist the government in having strategies to keep the company well informed (City of Vancouver 2005).


The following are the methodologies that will apply in making the research a success. First, the research project must identify the products needed by the old people (Cross 1992). This will be by use of online surveying methods (Gitlin 2003). The survey will include qualitative and quantitative questions about the ways in which the elderly people think they may benefit from designs that help them warm their houses and monitor their health (Moody 2006). The other methodology to identify the needs of the elderly is by developing a case study by staying with them in their homes where someone develops a study to analyse the patterns, relationships and the areas in which they need to improve their energy conservation and health monitoring in cold seasons (Subramanian 2008). Developing the relationship in this area will involve studying how they use their fuel and whether they are affected by fuel poverty. After analysing the elderly, receiving information from people who take care of them such as the doctors and relatives will help in establishing ways that will help them cope with the winter seasons (Minkler 2003).

The other part of the research will involve investigating and developing equipment that will assist the elderly to improve their health conditions during the winter (Dorst 1995). This will involve technicalities on issues such as having a proper method of ensuring that the product develops and has good reception in the market (McCallum 1999). This research will seek to develop a hypo thermometer to deal with the immense hyperthermia that affects many old people resulting in arthritis and stroke (Cooper & Hagan 1999). Hypothermia, which is caused by low temperature, is the major disease that kills most of the elderly people during cold season (Bath 2003). Although other diseases such as diabetes and blood sugar are also prevalent in this season, the hypo thermometer will take the design of a necklace (Cross & Dorst 2001). However, it will have instruments such as thermometer and an automatic alarm system that alerts the person having it when the body temperature goes below thirty-five degrees Celsius (Newson 2005). The equipment will alert the relatives and people close to the person of the danger that they are in. This will make it easy to provide a quick response to deal with the person at that time (Levett-Therivel Sustainability Consultants 2004)

Limitations of the research

Due to the vastness of the area of design, the research will be intensive and will require a multi disciplinary approach involving creative designers and medical researchers (Building Research Establishment (BRE) 2006). The medical researchers will ascertain the effectiveness of the equipment as home medical equipment. The research will also involve ascertaining the authenticity of the equipment in ensuring that the equipment does not have negative side effects on the user (Frame &Vale 2006).

The other challenge in relation to this project relates to getting the product in the market (Faste 2001). The product must have a design that will make it easy to handle and affordable to the elderly people (Pynoos 1993). Marketing the product will involve creating awareness about the hypo thermometer that will be useful in alerting the elderly on their body temperature.


The area of design well being is an imperative area worth of study mainly because of the increase in the number of people above the edge of sixty-five and the figure is continuing increase. Establishing ways of making their life better is a necessary approach. This group of elderly people provides a ready market for the manufacturers of goods and services. Companies need to design products that will serve them better (Newell & Simon 1972). The other area of concern is the housing industry. With most of the people preferring to spend their old age in their homes rather than in nursing homes, the housing industry must create houses that will serve people during their old age. An imperative area is that of designing houses that are energy efficient, which will help to curb fuel poverty. Educating the elderly on how to cope with the cold season by making their homes more energy efficient as well as utilising other techniques that will keep them warm will assist the elderly in the society to live better (Cutler 2006).


ACIL Consulting, (1999), Ageing gracefully: An overview of the economic implications of australia’s ageing population profile, Department Of Health And Aged Care Occasional Papers, DHAC, Canberra.

Agyeman, J (2003), Towards just sustainability in urban communities: Building equal rights with sustainable solutions, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, vol. 590, pp. 35-53.

Andrews, K (2001), National strategy for an ageing Australia: An older Australia, challenges and opportunities for all, Commonwealth of Australian, Canberra.

Austad S & Masoro E (2006), Handbook of the biology of ageing, Sixth Edition, Academic Press, San Diego.

Basiago, A (1999), Economic, social, and environmental sustainability in development theory and urban planning practice. The Environmentalist, vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 145-161.

Bass, S (2006), Gerontological theory: The search for the Holy Grail, The Gerontologist, vol. 46, no.139-144.

Bassuk, S, Berkman, L, Glass, T, Mendes C. (2006). Social engagement and depressive symptoms in late life, Journal of Ageing and Health, vol. 18, no. 4, pp. 604-628.

Bath, P (2003), Differences between older men and woman in the self-rated health/ mortality relationship, The Gerontologist, vol. 43, pp. 387-94

Brindley, T (2003), The social dimension of the urban village: A comparison of models for sustainable urban development, Urban Design International, vol. 8, no. 1/2, pp. 53-65.

Building Research Establishment (BRE) (2006), Assessment of sustainability tools, Report No 15961.

Buzar, S, (2007), Energy poverty in Eastern Europe: Hidden geographies of deprivation, Aldershot: Ashgate.

Charles, S, Gatz, M, Reynolds, C. (2001). Age-related differences and change in positive and negative affect over 23 years, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology , vol. 80, no. 1, pp. 136–151.

City of Vancouver (2005), Definition of social sustainability, City of Vancouver, Council Report.

Clarke, P (2005), The role of the built environment in the disablement process, American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 95, no. 11.

Cole, R (1999), Building environmental assessment methods: Clarifying Intentions, Building Research & Information, vol. 27, no. 4/5, pp. 230-246.

Cooper, C & Hagan, P (1999), The ageing Australian population and future health costs: 1996-2051, Department of Health and Aged Care (DHAC), Occasional Papers: New Series No. 7. DHAC, Canberra.

Cross, N (1992), Research In design thinking, Delft University Press, Delft.

Cross, N & Dorst, K (2001), Creativity in the design process: Co-evolution of problem-solution, Design Studies vol. 22, pp. 425–437

Cutler, L (2006), Assessing and comparing physical environments for nursing home residents: Using new tools for greater research specificity, The Gerontologist, vol. 46, no. 1, pp. 42-51.

Dorst, K (1995), Comparing paradigms for describing design activity, Design Studies, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 261–274.

Faste, R (2001), The human challenge in engineering design, International Journal of Engineering Education, vol. 17, no. 4–5, pp. 327–331.

Frame, B & Vale, R (2006), Increasing uptake of low impact urban design and development: the role of sustainability assessment systems, Local Environment, vol. 11, no. 3, pp. 287-306.

Gitlin, L (2003), Conducting research on home environments: Lessons learned and new directions, The Gerontologist, vol. 45, no. 5, pp. 628-637.

Holtzclaw, B (2004), Shivering in acutely ill vulnerable populations: AACN clinical issues, Advanced Practice in Acute and Critical Care, vol. 15, no. 2, pp. 267–279

Levett-Therivel Sustainability Consultants (2004), Sustainable urban environment – metrics, models and toolkits: Analysis of sustainability /social tools, Unpublished report for SUE-MoT.

Littig, B (2005), Social sustainability: A catchword between political pragmatism and social theory, International Journal of Sustainable Development, vol. 8, no. 1/2, pp. 65-79.

Lloyd, K (2003), Leisure, public space and quality of life in the urban environment, Urban Policy and Research, vol. 21, no. 4, pp. 339-356.

Lord, S, Menz, H, & Sherrington, C. (2006). Home environment risk factors for falls in older adults and the efficacy of home modifications, Age and Ageing, vol. 35, no. 2, pp. ii55-ii59.

Mather, M (2005), Ageing and motivated cognition: The positivity effect in attention and memory, Trends in Cognitive Sciences vol. 9, no. 10, pp. 496–502.

McCallum, J (1999), The morbidity picture: Substitution versus compression? Department Of Health and Aged Care (DHAC), Occasional Paper Number 4: Compression of Morbidity Workshop Papers, AGPS, Canberra.

Minkler, P (2003), Successful aging: A disability perspective. Journal of Disability Policy Studies, vol. 12, no. 4, pp. 229-235.

Moody, R (2006), Ageing: Concepts and controversies 5th Ed, Pine Forge Press, California.

Newell, A, & Simon, H (1972), Human problem solving, Prentice-Hall, New York.

Newson, R (2005), General lifestyle activities as a predictor of current cognition and cognitive change in older adults: A cross-sectional and longitudinal examination, Journal of Gerontology, vol. 60B, no. 3, pp. 113-120.

Pynoos, J (1993), Strategies for home modification and repair, Baywood, Amityville.

Rowe, J (1998), Successful ageing, Random House, New York.

Rydin, Y (2003), Local sustainability indicators, Local Environment, vol. 8, no. 6, pp. 581-589.

Satariano, W, & Wilcox, S. (2006). Physical activity, public health, and aging: Critical issues and research priorities, Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, vol. 61, no. 5, pp. 267-S273.

Stark, S (2004), Removing environmental barriers in the homes of older adults with disabilities improves occupational performance, OTJR, vol. 24, no. 1, pp. 32-39.

Subramanian, S. (2008). Neighbourhood effects on the self-rated health of elders: Uncovering the relative importance of structural and service-related neighbourhood environments, Journal of Gerontology, vol. 61B, no. 3, pp. S153-S160.

World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), (2007), Our Common Future, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Tim, W (2008), Fury as fuel poverty soars close to a 10-year record, The Guardian, London.

Zacks, R (2000), Human memory, In F.I.M. Craik & T.A. Salthouse (Eds.), The Handbook of Ageing and Cognition, pp. 293–357.