VISUAL COMFORT FOR SENIORS by Truus de Bruin-Hordijk
Truus de Bruin-Hordijk
Climate Design/Building Physics group of the faculty of Architecture of the Technical University of Delft
One of the problems for the near future is the sharp rise of the ageing population. Most people of the growing group of seniors start their senior life as healthy human beings, but they have special differences in respect to young people. During life, the eyes of the human being change clearly. When one wants to create a good visual indoor climate for senior dwellings in order to maintain the quality of life, one should consider the age-related changes of the eyes.
Norms and building regulations have requirements for the physical aspects of buildings in order to get a good comfortable indoor environment, but there is no special discrimination in these standards between buildings for young people and buildings for seniors. For the well-being of seniors it has a high priority now to develop good design principles for senior dwellings and elderly homes.
A good indoor environment can be preventive for different problems, which are always related with elderly people. Good daylight situations can give less depressive complaints. A bad visual environment results in more fall incidents. And in general one can say that the dominance of one’s owns situation can be stimulated by good lighting situations. There are several studies for a good visual environment for elderly with dementia or low vision, but our research concentrates itself to the visual environment for healthy seniors.
Knowing the ageing of the eyes, we decided to do a pilot study to observe the real visual environment in senior homes in the Netherlands. Measurements were done in 11 senior dwellings and 4 nursing homes and seniors were asked to answer questions about their visual environment. In the nursing homes, some caretakers were asked too. For this research it was very needed to ask the seniors themselves about their building environment, because subjects in building physical experiments are mostly younger ones.
The research showed here is an ongoing study at our faculty with graduate students. It was a big challenge for the research students to ask questions in a good way, because in the beginning of this pilot study they already learned, that some elderly are happy with the visit of the researcher, but not always give adequate answers on the research questions.
Truus de Bruin-Hordijk did her graduation study and her PhD study in Solid State Physics. She worked as a teacher at a secondary school and a high school, and has now been working for fourteen years at the Climate Design/Building Physics group of the faculty of Architecture of the Technical University of Delft. Today she is an associate professor responsible for the daily supervision of the Building Physics group of the faculty. Her research topics are visual and thermal qualities of daylight in inner spaces and urban physics aspects regarding light, sun and wind. Her aim is to contribute to achieving a healthy, comfortable and sustainable built environment. Within this context, and focus on ‘Daylight’ research. She is also the research leader of the ‘Comfort’group of the Building Technology department. This group is doing research for the thermal, acoustical and visual comfort of indoor and outdoor spaces. Finally, she is a member of several daylight committees and workgroups, as well as chairman of the Dutch Standard committee.