Bill Bradley had difficulties of getting out of his car. Now this task is much easier for him because he uses a special device, which is similar to the cane, with wider handles and a larger base. “The device is very helpful” – he said, “and I’m so grateful to the college kids who designed it”.
Many seniors have difficulties with performing even very simple tasks. Holding a newspaper with shaky hands, getting out of the car, getting off the coach – these seem-to-be-easy tasks can turn into daily challenges.
Students from Olin, Babson and Wellesley Colleges teamed up to create devices to make life easier for the elderly or people with limited mobility.
Engineering for Humanity
Olin College’s Engineering for Humanity class was designed to inspire students and helping the community. During the course, students shadow local senior citizen volunteers and implement solutions to their specific everyday problems.
The course was created to appeal both to the Olin College students who are interested in engineering and for the Wellesley and Babson students who have a liberal arts or business background.
We are very proud to say that Julie Bolt, the Ezra Home Care Director of Client Support, is an Academic Program Evaluator for this course. She participates in the volunteer interview process and provides research documentation.
Solutions to the real life problems
What kind of solutions did students design?
Mabel Edwards has a back injury, so she moves mostly in her wheelchair. She has to stand while she is cooking which is not very safe for her back. Now she can remain seated while cooking thanks to a new seat that students designed for her wheelchair. “It’s been so helpful, I love it so much.”-says Edwards.
For the woman who had trouble getting up from the couch, students designed a third armrest that the women could use to hoist herself to her feet. ”We thought it was the simplest, easiest design that really fit our user.” - said one the students.
Communication is the key
Students like the course a lot. Brett Rowley, one of the students, said: “Unlike classes where you design for a teacher, here you design a real product for a person who has a real problem.”
Breauna Campbell, an Olin student who participated in designing the cane, said that she learned a lot about the older population in general, and how to observe and listen to their needs.
Friendship between senior volunteers and students was also one of the benefits from the program. Older people appreciated the attention and that their needs were heard.
This program provides a way for students and the elderly to communicate and understand each other better, which is great for building a strong community. The Ezra Home Care team whole-heartedly supports the idea of this program and are happy to spread the word about it.