Research for the elderly to beat the heat

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Researchers have developed a guide for older residents of Melton and Moorabool to help them keep their home temperatures comfortable during summer and winter.

Researchers from the University of Adelaide say that since older people spend the majority of their time (75-80%) at home, improving the ambient temperature can greatly benefit their well-being.

The guide, Thermal Comfort at Home: A guide for old South Australians, was developed following a study funded by the Australian Research Council.

The guide outlines changes people can make in and around the house in four categories to improve their thermal comfort, including: personal actions, small changes around the house at little or no cost, equipment and technology, and home design, renovation and construction.

Previous research has shown that between 21 and 24 degrees is the temperature at which older people experience the fewest health problems, and hot conditions are known to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, hyperthermia and heat stroke. .

“Some of the simplest and least expensive strategies to help older people beat the heat at home are to open windows when it’s cooler outside to bring in fresh air, for example early in the morning or late in the afternoon, using exterior shading and reducing the number of rooms to be cooled by closing the doors,” said Professor Veronica Soebarto who led the study.

“Cleaning your air conditioning regularly to keep it running efficiently and using an evaporative air conditioner or fan instead of a refrigerated system will help save energy while keeping your home at a comfortable temperature.

“There are also some very basic things you can personally do to stay cool, like reducing your activity during the hottest hours of the day, drinking plenty of water even if you’re not thirsty, and avoiding cooking. with the oven or stove on hot days, eating light, cold foods instead.

Case studies with a wide range of strategies are featured in the guide and include estimates of cost savings and temperature changes that can be achieved.

“While the case studies involved older people in South Australia, the strategies could very easily be applied to housing in other parts of Australia with similar climates,” Professor Soebarto said.

The guide was developed by a team of researchers from the University of Adelaide in the fields of architecture, building engineering, gerontology (the study of ageing) and public health; in collaboration with older people from across South Australia and the Urban Aging Research Group at The Hague University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands.

As a follow-up to this project, the research team has received funding for another ARC Discovery Project for 2022-2024, where they will focus on the housing conditions of older people from low socio-economic backgrounds. and culturally and linguistically diverse.

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