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Website editor, sometime designer
"Aging not aged"
I am a longtime journalist, editor and interior designer -- retired from The San Francisco Chronicle where I was Home&Garden editor and currently editing the website, AFriendlyHouse.com, that is dedicated to reporting on and promoting Universal Design and design solutions for aging in place. My husband of 50 years and I spend half the week in San Francisco and half in the San Joaquin Valley where we grow our own food, wine grapes, olives and chickens.
If we considered the needs of people of all ages and abilities when designing and building homes and neighborhoods, the need to retrofit those homes -- or move out -- when we get older would not be an issue!
You're right, Rodney. Walkers with some sort of telescoping legs that could be easily adjusted (longer back legs, shorter front legs for going upstairs; longer front legs, shorter back legs for going downstairs) -- perhaps automatically adjusted by smart sensors -- might be one answer. (Similarly those of us who wear high heeled shoes -- which are good for climbing hills but not descending same -- could use shoes with telescoping heels when traversing San Francisco's hills.)
Sounds ingenious. Is losing balance always the same, whether the person is falling backward or forward? And which shoe makes the backward step? If both moved, that would surely cause more imbalance, so how do the shoes know which one to move?
This research points out very real issues with both assistive devices and training in their use. If every prescriber of an assistive device were forced to use that device for even a few minutes, both the devices and the training in their use would be quickly addressed and could be improved; e.g. In more cases than not, one will see a walker- or cane-user hunched over, simply because the device has not been adjusted to the user's height and specific needs.