Design for age related deficiencies 2006

Page 1

Design for Age-Related Deficiencies

Kingston University London 2006

wurnig alexander rupert tobias 1

Foreword Because the ageing society is an increasingly frequently discussed topic and there is a definite urgency to fit this phenomenon into the environment, I wish to address this theme. To speak about ageing implies that one must confront ageing and finally, death, oneself. For this reason, most elderly people are usually spoken about as if this had nothing to do with them and it would never happen to them. It is however true, that in future there will be ever more older people and it is quite clear that many objects and institutions, as well as services, will, sooner or later, have to be adapted to fit this need. Product solutions, truly supported by society and brought into society as norms by developers and manufacturers, are still a long way off. In this paper I wish to show that these ideas, especially in the product development branch, have not only been thought about but will in the long run become self evident in design. Every designer has parents and grandparents. One doesn’t need to look far in order to include the needs of these people in the initial concept of new products. In the natural order of things, I will also someday be old and frail. I would also like to be able not only to do many things independently in my old age, but also to have a vote - a choice - as I do today. These are my motives for the choice of this topic.


Contents Introduction




The Problems of Elderly People


Physical Impairment



Medical Facts



Pressures of Society



Daily Problems



Products and Aids for the Elderly




The Market - Suppliers and Manufacturers








Product Descriptions






The Society of the Future



The Demographic Change



Reasons for the Decline in Fertility



Trends, Design and the Elderly



Mobile Phones and Older People






The Starting Point for Solutions



Expectations and Recognition



Generation-Spanning Design



Product Examples





54 3

Introduction The first chapter is devoted to the problems of older people (50+). The most common deficiencies in the general population will be examined. Statistics will show which physical deficiencies are involved. The medical backgrounds that are responsible for these limitations as well as the background reasons for ageing will be shown. Quite apart from physical impairment, older people are stamped and stigmatised as a minority group by the rest of society. This pressure leads to social and psychical problems and these aspects of older people will also be explained. Then both private and public examples will be demonstrated. The second chapter is devoted to products that can help people with impaired abilities. The current market situation will be introduced - where one can find help - what the costs involved are. Current products for certain kinds of support will be introduced. The next section will concentrate on the demographic changes of human ageing. Graphics will be introduced that will illustrate these changes. Reasons for these developments as well as possible consequences will be cited. After this section, it will be obvious that we will all age and that we will all be, and want to be, confronted with utilitarian objects and trends well into our old age, so that we can be a part of new developments and take our part in society. The chapter, “Trends, Design and Older People�, cites examples, such as the 4

mobile phone boom, which illustrate both the negative and positive aspects of new trends and technologies. Towards the end, the expectations and the recognition that already exists in this area, will be explained. In addition, one can discover what the expression “generation-spanning design� means. Cited examples will show more clearly what is meant by this design direction. Finally, the most important themes and challenges will be summarised once more and the attempt will be made to come to a conclusion that shows the way forward.


1. Problems of the Elderly

1.1 Physical Impairment In the cited statistic, from John Gill of Britain’s “Royal National Institute for the Blind” (img.1), one can see which age related impairments appear most frequently. Since these limitations do not always fall into the “handicapped” category, the number of actual impairments is often underestimated. Mio in Europe Elderly

Older people often suffer from several “lesser” weaknesses that are interrelated.

Low vision

This makes it harder to evaluate the difficulties of older people. The ear specialist

Hard of hearing

knows exactly the state of his patient’s hearing, but he is not duty bound to find

Intellectually impaired




out about the limited motor control and visual weaknesses of his patient.

Language impaired Speech impaired Reduced co-ordination Reduced strength

So people who suffer severe problems in their daily lives, are seen as having only

Cannot use one arm Cannot use fingers

minor limitations, and are thus overlooked and do not appear in the statistics.

Cannot walk without aid Weelchair user 0

Individual problems, such as being hard of hearing, - which, with 80 million af-










fected in Europe, is the most common handicap in our society - are far better analysed, both physically and psychically.(see Coleman, 1997:39-41)



Limited Hearing Ability For every handicap there are varying degrees of impairment, from light to severe limitations. Reduced hearing ability can affect the whole or only part of the hearing centre - one-sided deafness or hearing weakness. The deaf group, as opposed to those with a hearing weakness, has no possibility of making use of a support appliance. A distinction also has to be made between those who were born with the weakness and those who developed it during their lives and at what age. This plays an important part in the physical and psychical development. People who are deaf from birth are dependent upon their senses of sight and touch, sign language, the written word and the help of others. Whereas those whose hearing difficulties developed later in life, usually learned everything normally, and can usually get by without sign language, when gestures and faces can be easily read. A hearing weakness is often seen as a lack of communication or intelligence. This is extremely unprofessional and often results in people without a hearing problem finding it difficult to communicate with those who have, tending to leave them strictly alone. It is embarrassing not to be understood or not to understand, as it is when learning another language. However, the average person with a hearing difficulty is strongly interested in communication, often writing letters and sometimes books, and is knowledgeable about the new alternative means of communication - SMS, Internet, Visual telephones. This interest often comes about as a result of sharing the putative weakness. 7

Reduced Strength People with reduced strength are mainly older people, whose numbers are far fewer than those with hearing problems. Despite that, there are, in Europe, more than 22 million people in this group. Timer and time again, people with reduced functioning in their arms, hands and fingers can no longer operate a wide variety of appliances that must be turned, pressed or moved. Opening and closing lids or packaging or using small dials and handles can cause considerable handicap. Often added to this is the fact that the loss of strength is not gradual but swings between strong and weak in a slow downward spiral. People with this handicap are often very frustrated, since this condition occurs over and over again and one can see how one is less and less able to cope with things that one had no idea would become such obstacles.

Limited Sight Here one must differentiate between people who are completely blind, those who are only partially blind and those who have a general weakness in their sight. For those affected with a weakness in both eyes, the “classic� glasses are an extremely practical support. However, even these people find it difficult to recognise the small print of instruction manuals, print symbols and pictures with too little colour contrast, signs in the distance at an exhibition etc. Stairs or obstacles on the floor with no contrast, can quickly turn into dangerous problems. The truly blind are mainly dependent upon their senses of touch and hearing. The guide dog is a great achievement for blind people, but without Braille or spoken 8

comments on CD, blind people frequently need other people’s help when it comes to using various products and public services.

Limited Movement Because of reduced function of the arms and legs, affected people are often dependent upon a walking support or even a wheelchair. Apart from those who have been dependent upon such supports from birth on, there are 45 million people who are dependent upon them as a result of ageing or accident. (see Coleman, 1997:39-41)

1.2 Medical Facts Bending and stretching, as well as climbing up or down - freedom of movement - are the greatest challenges in old age. Sight and hearing weaknesses are also counted among the most common deficiencies in old age. But why?

Why do we age? The ageing process cannot be understood as resulting from a single cause. There are many theories as to why we age: the most important of them can basically be divided into two groups. 9

The Stochastic Ageing Process (greek: stokhastikos =capable of guessing) This process starts out with a coincidental reason for ageing. In any organism, differentiated cells build the tissue and gradually, through ageing, smaller and/or larger damage appears on the cells or tissue. This damage is irreparable and thus leads to the ageing of an individual. (see Frahm, 1999: 246 - 252)

The Deterministic Ageing Process (Latin: determinare = to determine) In order to develop specialised tissue, a many celled higher organism must limit the unlimited ability of division. It follows, therefore, that dead cells can no longer be replaced and the function of various organs diminish in old age. This determinising of division ability is set by genetic programmes and biological cell- timekeepers - the biological clock. (see Frahm, 1999: 243 - 256) These ageing processes are responsible for a multitude of age related problems, including rheumatism, arthritis, arthrosis, as well as limitations of sight and hearing.


Joint Function Responsible for the smooth action of a healthy joint, the synovial membrane has a multitude of blood vessels that produce synovial fluid, which is spread through movement. The first sign of damage to the function of a joint is increased friction within the joint. This first step is not characterised by pain or restriction of movement. Only when the synovial membrane becomes inflamed, is there swelling and pain in the joint. A further stage results in limited movement and weight bearing capabilities. At first, pain is only related to weight-bearing pressure, but later it is present also when the joint is at rest. This pain is avoided by adopting positions that are, wherever possible, pain-free. Such irritating conditions can result in a further stiffening of the joint. When this stage is reached, limited movement can be clearly seen. The stiffening continues to the point where callouses are formed because of the constant muscular strain - Myogelosen - and the muscles shorten.


A fit wrist and on the left you can see the abrasion

A further stage, in increasing old age, is when the joint cartilage is worn away (img.2-3) and the joints rub against one another with no synovial fluid between them(arthrosis). At this stage, the movement of the joint is practically no longer possible (bed-ridden).(see Dr Bäker, MD, 1991:22) This age related development can be slowed down by the implantation of a prosthetic joint.

The Power of Vision


Presbyopia - increasing long sightedness - is the gradual age related reduction in vision. The lens of the eye is responsible for the alternation from distance vision 11

to close vision and vice versa - accommodation. This accommodation is contrived in the eye by the finest of muscles. From birth onwards, the lens of the eye, slowly but surely, loses elasticity through calcium deposits. Between the ages of 40 and 45, this development becomes obvious and the refractive power of the eye is reduced. The point where objects can still be seen clearly, disappears further and further into the distance. The focussing of the lens, especially for close up vision, diminishes and make it difficult to read books and newspapers, as well as the small print on signs and notices. Presbyopia is not a disease but a normal

The change of the pupils


result of ageing. (see Leibold, 2001: 55 - 57) The colour spectrum is also increasingly diminished in old age. The blue and green tones are particularly affected. The basic reason for this is a cloudiness, to a greater or lesser degree, of the lens of the eye. This allows less and less light through the lens (img.4), which develops a yellowish, milky cast. (see Meyer-Hentschl, 2004 : 25:f)

The Power of Hearing There is no explicit age related deafness. Hearing weaknesses are set genetically, but above all through environmental influences - noise. If one is subjected to noise year in, year out, as is increasingly the case, it may lead to considerable loss in old age. In addition, changes in hair cells in the inner ear and degenerative processes in the central hearing channels cause further diminuition of the hearing power in later old age.(see Hesse, 2005 : url) A large problem is that only every tenth person admits to a hearing weakness, although nearly every second person beween the ages of 45 and 65 has this weakness. A third, if not 12

more, of all 60 year olds and at least half of all 70 year olds have definite hearing problems.(see Meyer-Hentschl, 2004 : 26:f)

1.3 Pressures of Society Explanation of the term stereotype The word stereotype comes from the greek stereos, solid and tupos, image. The Duden dictionary talks about an unjustified, simplified, generalised stereotypical .(see Duden, 1996: 969) “In sociology, the term stereotype refers to the perpetuating of a simple picture, with the understanding that this refers to a category of either people, institutions or cultures. It is closely bound to prejudice.” The expression was used in the 18th centtury when solid type made unlimited print reproduction possible.

Explanation of the term prejudice Prejudice is a judgement without proof of objective facts. “A prejudice is described as an example that is employed and affected by a pre-decided judgement, that is generally emotionally coloured, about people, groups, objects or related facts.” “In social psychology the term usually describes a deprecatory or hostile attitude towards people who belong to a different so13

cial or ethnic group.� (Auberger, 2004:33)

Discriminatory Factors The social exclusion of elderly people originates in their community. As a result of stereotyping and prejudice, the characteristics of certain groups or specific people are laid down.In this case elderly people and even the word “old�are synonymous with unmodern, out of touch with the times, and inactive, in the eyes of the greater community. Old age is associated with reduced mental and physical strength. This association is qualified by the self image of this society, which sees itself as young, dynamic and sucessful. These characteristics are also seen as their ideal and quickly become the accepted norm. Those who do not fit this ideal, are excluded and therefore discriminated against. This mostly occurs because of particular expedctations of society. It is expected of elderly people that they no longer take an active role in shaping the community, but turn their positions over to younger people, to make do with less and to retreat into themselves. This behaviour is not only expected, it is taken for granted. Anyone who opposes this is punished with rejection and intolerance.This imposed image eventually becomes the self image.A group of people, on the one hand cared for and on the other turned down, is thus conditioned to accept the expected imposed image. Even when certain offers of help are not accepted because the person concerned wishes to lead an independent and autonomous life, this predominantly meets with misunderstanding. Stereotyping and prejudice are therefore social problems. Opinions and attitudes of this kind are very difficult to 14

change, much in the same way as habits, which are seldom consciously chosen. Important prerequisites for changing one’s way of thinking are an awareness of the shaping of political ideals as well as the willingness to change one’s opinion. Nothing can be done to counter this rationally, since most of these attitudes are emotionally coloured and usually irrational prejudices, depending upon the individual member of society.

Self Image Self image is an expression taken from the fields of psychoanalysis and social psychology. What is meant by self image is one’s position in relation to one’s environment. This position is reached through the bringing together of all personally acquired experiences. The expectations of society is a decisive factor in the shaping of prejudice, since one’s self-assessment is reflected by one’s position in society. The quality of social life in childhood also plays a part in self image and intelligence and education have their influence on self image - less educated people tend to have a more negative attitude towards their own self image. Moreover, aspects such as illness, frailty, undesirable living conditions, financial difficulties, poor social relationships, the loss of a partner and dependency on others can all lead individuals to consider themselves as old and to create a negative self image. 15

If one sees oneself as negative, then it becomes much easier to perceive negativity in many things and the negative self image is strengthened. This vicious circle is one of the reasons that a study by researchers from Yale University,New Haven, USA, involving US citizens over a period of 23 years, showed that people with a positve self-image lived, on average, 7.5 years longer than those who are unable to face the reality of old age. (see Auberger, 2004: 43-44) “Whether someone speaks of themselves or is spoken of as being still very active, capable and socially committed for their age, depends on collective or individual expectations. In this, the socio-cultural and often stereotypical picture of old age plays a central role.� (Baltes, 200: 188)

1.4 Problems in Daily Life The Private Sphere Often it is only small details within an individual’s living space which can make leading an independent life and running a home independently decidedly difficult. These problems occur mainly in the bathroom/toilet area, kitchen, living room, bedroom and the entrance hall. In the bathroom, there are the problems of getting in and out of the bath, or sitting down on and getting up from the toilet. Using the washing machine can be a troublesome job. In addition, the absence of handgrips and the frequently slippery surfaces create a high likelihood of injury. 16

In the kitchen the various knobs and handles on the oven, cupboards and drawers and the opening of the freezer are often difficult to manage.The height of the counter tops, the upper cupboards and the refrigerator can present further problems. Even the living room often needs to be refurnished for the elderly. The height, width and angle of seating are important to daily comfort. In the bedroom, the area around the bed is of first concern. Normal beds are usually too low and the bedside tables too high. The bedside tables are often reached by touch alone and turning off the light when one is lying in bed is often a torture. The entrance hall is often poorly lit and the door is sometimes heavy and difficult to open. For the elderly, the extremely small keyhole is frequently an obstacle. (see Frahm, 1999 b: 245-267)

Example - Packaging: Packaging plays a big role in our daily lives. Opening and closing packages is the greatest problem for the elderly, but pouring, holding and carrying packages, as well as the legibility of the description of the contents is often not taken into consideration. The colour blind, or those whose ability to distinguish between col17

ours has diminished with age, see only gray in packaging that is not printed large enough nor has enough contrasting shades. For instance, the conditioner and shampoo from two different manufacturers are easily mistaken for one another. More importantly, the sell-by-date is often difficult to find and, for the elderly, difficult to read, without the help of reading glasses, because it is small and poorly printed. The sell-by-date, at least, should do what it is supposed to do. Manufacturers are more concerned with the look, the facade, of their product than with the actual functions that such a product should possess. (see Haimann, 2005: 155f) This is due to the fact that free market companies endeavour to achieve the highest possible number of sales with the lowest possible expenditure. In an investigation of screw-top lids, the relationship between subjective and ergo-

KaffeeweiĂ&#x;er The cmparison of packaging A: aesthetic B: open easily


C: traditional look D: functionality

nomic factors was shown. Thus lids that because their (not round) form or their structure, made it possible to open an object easily (img.5-6), were seen as difficult to open. As a result, round, smooth lids, which are in actual fact more difficult to open, are promoted, and the lack of functionality is kept from the customer. There are results of investigations that are influenced by such subjective judgements and where the ergonomic factors are not the only determinants that the decide the user-friendliness of the product and the simplicity of its use. (see Coleman, 1997:175) More than 90% of those over 60 have problems in opening packaging. 15% to

effort to open


20% have stated that their greatest problem is with the opening of medcations packaging. Especially the elderly need more and more medicationns as they grow older. In addition, packaging contains a far greater risk than originally suspected. If packaging is difficult to open, the user does not simply throw it away, 18

but will attempt to open it with a knife, scissors, screwdrivers, spoons, files or other unsuitable tools.(see Meyer-Hentschel, 2004: 43f) This activity led to 49 000 in-patient hospital treatments in Great Britain in 1989.

The Public Sphere Even the layout in public buildings, hotels and on public transport is not shaped with the elderly in mind. The treads on stairs are much too high, shower cabins and baths are difficult to use, getting in and out of buses, trains and cars is hard and there are not enough, notices in large script in almost all public places, buildings, exhibitions and events. All these lead to considerable difficultiies. A greater understanding and consideration of the physical limitations of the elderly is necessary. There are millions of citizens who become a burden on their families or on the state, or at least cannot take part in many things because of poorly planned public facilities. It would be far cheaper and more comfortable for both sides if there was more communication between them concerning the public sphere. (see Coleman, 1997:52-53)

Example - Supermarkets and Department Stores When shopping, which is almost a daily necessity, there are serious shortcomings. Overall information and presentation of goods is often not available, and if it is, one can hardly follow it. The price tag is often tiny and, in addition, poorly printed and it is not always clear which price belongs to which product. The customer 19

is annoyed to discover the real price only when he reaches the checkout. The background music and special offer announcements that are intentded to motivate the customer sometimes present a problem and often have the opposite effect. This permanent background noise is, for the hard of hearing, an accoustic torrent, to be compared with being in a noisy crowd and only understanding snippets of words. This leads to stress, distraction, confusion and lack of concentration when shopping and increases the difficulty of understanding salespeople

Problems of packeging in % of questioned.


in the shop. (see Haimann, 2005: 156-157) Furthermore, shelving is often too high and confusingly stacked. Shelves in supermarkets are usually stacked with various products, 2.5 m or more from the ground up. If you cannot bend easily and cannot reach the top shelf, your choices are drastically reduced. The rapidity of paying at the checkout is, for the elderly, often inconsiderate and leads to stress. Furthermore, The bottom of the basket of the shopping trolley is often too deep and is felt to be extremely impractical. (se Meyer-Hentschel, 2004: 49f)

Example - Electronic Services In future public terminals, banks and post offices will have more and more at their disposal electronic services, that are all operated differently. For younger people with good flexibility in their fingers, with good eyesight and good hearing, this development poses no problem. Younger generations learn to understand the new technology more quickly, more simply and more easily, since they have grown up with these many different looking media. However, for people with limited hearing, sight and/or sense of touch, a standardisation of all these input devices is of utmost importance. (see Coleman, 1997: 52-53) 20

2. Products and Aid for The Elderly “Give us a seat that we can sit on and a pen with which we can write, and we will write out a cheque for you!� (Coleman, 1997: 31)

2.1 The Market At present there are specialty shops that offer aids for older people or those with handicaps. The drawback to these types of shops lies in the fact that the location and the products sold lack a chic and elegance, and this has an effect on its image and its acceptance by both the customer concerned and society in general. Because of this negative connotation, technical aids have a pitiable flavour, which reduces their popularity. This attitude has been deduced from the history of such products and their opponents. In the past, such shops did not exist. Aids were loaned or sold from rehabilitation centres or centres for those affected, and belonged solely to the sector of technical medicine. Following this, in the suburbs, were medical specialty shops, in whose windows anxiety-producing appliances were displayed, but these shops did not make any real entrance into the shopping streets. Apart from eyeglasses, there are hardly any aids that have equal status in society. Even though, apart from sunglasses, they clearly indicate a handicap, glasses have long achieved entry into the shopping zones, and are even a highly marketable part of the 21

fashion industry. So where does one start to move other aids in this direction, when there are no attractive products available in attractive shops? And where does the manufacturer’s motivation come from to develop innovative products when there are no profitable sales outlets? Still, both the trade and the demand for such products is constantly growing. (see Grasl, 2006) In May of 1996, the first shop in the whole of Germany specifically for the elderly, opened in Hamburg. The founder, Florian Wenckstern, who, as the manager of a Home for the Elderly and manager of a mobile nursing ward, knows well the problems and wishes of older people, began to fill this gap in the market with his own business. Aids to everday life have found their markets too, but there is still a lot to be done to change their negative image. To demand these aids and to bring their businesses into the shopping streets is the first step. (see Coleman, 1997:36-37)

Where are Products for the Elderly Available?

- Individual dealers


Electrically controlled armchairs

Minor products

- specialised department stores

wide range of minor and major aids 22

- general individual dealers

supportive aids

hand grips

garden tools with extra long handles

Good-Grips kitchen utensils

-Mail order specialty catalogues: Chester Care and Boots/Coopers Health-


predominantly minor aids, special kitchen utensils

hand grips

clothing etc

-General mail order catalogues: Innovations, Home Free

specific support products

non-slip bath mats

rubber sheets

can openers

- Specialty magazines for the handicapped and elderly: “The Oldie”, “Ac-

tive Life”,

“Disability Now”

electric wheelchairs

Stair lifts

Remote controlled garage doors

adjustable chairs 23

-general newspapers and magazines: through classified ads, articles and



Stair lifts

special bathroom fixtures etc


Otto Bock

Team Idee




2.2 Marketing A significant problem in marketing aids, lies in the names given to the products. Because of legal requirements it is stated, after the description of the product, whether it falls into a subsidised category or not. This describes whether the National Health Service covers, or partly covers the cost of the product or not. This situation makes it difficult for users, state services, manufacturers, individual dealers and voluntary organisations to change either the current prejudices or the self image of the elderly. 24

A few common descriptions of types of aid: Aid for the handicapped Aid for daily life Supportive devices Everyday equipment Equipment for the handicapped Equipment to prolong independence Equiment to make life easier Medical appliances Technical aids Tools for daily life It must be said, however, that none of those affected would speak about a “supportive device”. Even the expression ‘handicapped’ is looked upon by the elderly as discrimination and exclusion. In spite of this, there are categories in which a product is liable for VAT or is financed by the National Health System. This depends entirely on the description and the branch from where the product is bought. In general all utensils are liable for VAT, except if a product is manufactured solely for the use of handicapped people.(Steinberger, 2006) In Great Britain, if a walking stick was conceived for general use it would not be categorised as a necessary aid, but if this same stick was then offered as an everyday tool, it would then fall into the category of a necessary aid. (see Coleman, 1997: 47 0 51) 25

2.3 Costs: In this branch, a problem for customers is the high prices of the products. They are high because the market for orthotechnical devices is still very small and only small quantities are being produced. In addition, the development of the appliances is expensive and costly because they require a great length of time for testing of the product. On top of this, in order to market the product, it is necessary to apply to the German National Health System for a HMV number in the Health and Aid Catalogue. This application costs between € 15.000 and € 30.000. HMV numbers are comparable to British Standard specifications: they guarantee that an appliance has been tested for quality. No appliance may be sold as a medical aid without an HMV number. Only “essential” aids, such as walking aids, wheelchairs, bath lifts, hearing aids etc. are paid for by the national health system. Of these aids, only models of the lowest absolute standard allowed are available. If the person concerned wishes a more comfortable or more individual model, he must pay the difference between the standard model and the required model himself. For these reasons, even simple products in the orthotechnical branch are, in principle, relatively expensive. For example, an aid to putting on stockings costs between eur15 and eur70, a pair of tongs to pick objects up costs between eur30 and eur50, an ergotherapeutic stool costs between eur65 and eur339 and a raised toilet seat between eur30 and eur80, but with integrated assistance in getting up from the toilet, it could cost up to eur500. 26

For people on the minimum pension, eur15 is a large sum, and since appliances are usually manufactured for quite specific activities, as a physically limited person, one needs many different appliances in order to cope with daily needs as simply as possible. In Germany, one person concerned had problems with his spine and went to his doctor. He was prescribed a spinal bandage, that he had to pay for himself. Since the cost of this bandage in a specialty shop was much too high, he discovered that the “same� bandage was on offer at a discount supermarket for a fraction of the price. He bought the bandage and used it, without any expert advice. Today this man is a paraplegic and the sale of medical aids on the open market is no longer allowed. As far as this problem is concerned, one should, in the future, find out for which aid products a quality standard and comprehensive testing are really necessary, and which aids should be allowed on the open market. Private medical schemes are of increasing importance. Top-up insurance, which used to be considered as vanity, is now fast becoming a status symbol. Not only in the difference in quality of a stay in hospital , but also the extra service of these medical schemes of allowing a particular amount per quarter for medical aids, provides the motivation to take out such insurance and to become interested in the most modern and practical aids available.(see Grasl, 2006) 27

2.4 Product Examples The market for the target group of older people (50+) is, as yet, very small. So also is the range of products produced especially for this group. Most of these are aids that are concerned with larger physical problems. Wheelchairs, walking aids, crutches, special chairs with inbuilt standing up assistance and special shoes all appear to be very impersonal and technical or are produced in grey and brown. For those with an age related sight weakness, this dark and contrast-poor combination causes colours to float into each other, producing a grey misty image. It is not really recognised that there is a number of older people, who are hardly or only slightly physically limited but who have difficulties in coping with daily life.

Examples of common aids paid for by the national health system: Mobile walking frame, Sanicare: This light metal, silver painted walking frame is made mobile by four swivel castors. The handle height can be adjusted by push button from approx. 80 cm to approx. 90 cm. The black synthetic handles are approx. 53 cm apart. The complete Rollator walking frame weighs approx. 2.5 kg and has a maximum load weight of 100 kg. (Bst‰ndig, 2005) img.8 28

Folding Wheelchair Invocare Atlas Life: It weighs 17 kg and has a maximum load weight of 120 kg. The seat has a height of 52 cm, the depth is 41 cm and the seat width is 61 to 66 cm. The leg supports swivel and are detachable, and the foot supports can be lengthened and folded up. There is a lower leg band to support the legs and there are clamping brakes on both wheels. The upholstery and all synthetic parts are black, the frame is silver and the tyres are grey. This wheelchair fits into the category of the

standard invalid carriag


simplest and most cost effective models. (Dekra, 2006) Toilet seat: The toilet seat elevation “Soft” enables easier standing up and sitting down on the toilet. Because of the thick foam rubber structure, soft seating comfort is guaranteed. (Bst‰ndig, 2005)

Toilet seat


Necessary Products for the Elderly not paid for by the national health system: In this group belongs nearly every utensil of everyday life. Queens Cutlery: A series of cutlery with large rounded practical handles. The handles are 98 mm long and have a diameter of 3 cm. All parts are dishwasher safe and weigh approx. 45 g. (San activ, 2005)

img.10 29

Tongs Pick-up: This pair of tongs is 60 cm long and is very light and stable. The handle and the tongs are made of light brown plastic. Toilet seat: “Dolomite” is a toilet elevation that allows, through its padded armrests, an even easier way of standing up or sitting down on the toilet. The armrests can be folded back and this also raises the toilet seat, thus avoiding the need to bend so far. (Bst‰ndig, 2005) Rebotec Step Rollator Lupo:soft


This rollator is a particularly light model made of aluminium. With all features included, it weighs only 7 kg. There is a fold-up seating area that can double as a tray. In addition, it has a removable basket, a shopping basket, which can be used for many purposes. The handles can be adjusted from 80 cm to 98 cm and they are 62 cm apart. Directly underneath there are handbrakes and stationary brakes. The soft tubeless tyres are also suitable for outside use. The rollator has a maximum load weight of 102 kg body weight and is CE tested. (San activ, 2005)



2.5 Users The people to whom this applies can be divided into two different groups. Firstly, age is decisive because the elderly cannot be seen as one unit. They have a multitude of different life styles and habits. Age researchers speak of ‘young 30

seniors’ (50 to 64 years old), ‘seniors’ (65 to 79) and ‘advanced’ ( 80 years and above) For example, the young seniors are more likely to use aids than the other two groups. As a rule, young seniors are more willing to try things out, they see others using these appliances, they learn about them during ergotherapy or from friends and neighbours and are quick to see that these appliances could help them to be more independent. The other two groups are much more likely to get bogged down. As do all the groups, they wish to be as independent as possible, but this group wants to do things the way they have always done them - without help. Aids are looked upon in the same way as help from another person. This subjective judgement comes from the fact that people with no physical limitations have developed these aids for this fringe group, which does not want to stand out by using such aids. In addition, there is a pride in always doing for oneself, without fuss or other people’s help. In general one could say that the older a


person is, the less ready he/she is to learn something new.(img.14) Secondly, individual personality is an important aspect when considering whether aids would be accepted by those who need it or not. Here a difference is made between “active oldies” and “passive oldies”. As part of a Bavarian Broadcasting Company commercial, Infratest Burke developed a typology of the over 50s. Of this group, 66% are “active oldies” and 34% are “passive oldies”. These two groups are divided into five further groups. The 23% that is the active group is spoken of as the “confident, critical young-elderly”, who are qualityoriented, full of plans and ideas, who go around very confidently. People in this group will accept aids only if it is really necessary and if it works. 21% of the larger

J The will to try things out.


group is the “open-minded, interested young-elderly”. they are spontaneous and enterprising and are willing to try something new, to get involved, especially 31

when recommended by other people. 22% of the over 50s are “active, flexible young-elderly” This group has a positive attitude to life and has, in general, nothing against change but always has high standards, high expectations and a high level of pride. They don’t accept help readily, and therefore their attitude towards aid tends to be negative. Part of the passive group is the “passive gray oldies”, numbering 19% of the total. They are physically and mentally lethargic, they allow much, including aid, to pass them by, even though they may not even wish for this to happen. The final group, 15% of the total, is categorised as the “tranquil and content oldies”. They are content, but still aware of quality and tend to be rather passive in their attitude towards life. They accept fittings that make their lives easier, but they are not necessarily eager to learn new things. (see ÷ko-Institut, 2002: 105, see Priba)


3. The Society of the Future

3.1 The Demographic Change What is meant by demographic change?

Explanation of the term “demography”: Demography (greek: demos = people, graphein = writing) or population science is a scientific discipline that studies, using statistical methods, the size and structure of human populations and their changes. This demographic structure is dynamic: it results in tangible data of a poulation such as age, sex and nationality etc. The social determinants of population dynamics are birth rate, death rate and mobility. They have changed in historical retrospect and show today, for western societies, a complete change from young, growing societies to older and generally smaller societies. (see Universit‰t Bielefeld, 2005:url) In this chapter I will examine, in terms of demographic change, the aspects of “Overaging of a Society” in order to lead up to the use of and future demand of age-related industrial design. “Overaging of a Society” simply describes the fact that the average age or the number of older people has risen in recent decades and that the prognosis is for a much greater rise. This implies that the industrialised societies must make changes from the ground up. 33

Population prognoses for Germany give a good overview: in 1991, the number of

growth of population 2001 110 105

people over 65 was 15%. In the year 2030 it will be 26%. Alongside the rise in the

Bevölkerungsstruktur in Österreich 2001

100 95 90

number of over-65s, there is another demographic trend to watch: there are not

85 80 75

only more older people, but people are living longer - increasingly more people

70 65 60

reach the age of 80 or more. For example, in 1950 in West Germany, there were

55 Frauen Männer

50 45

19,000 people over the age of 90. In 2000 there were 342,000 in the same area.

40 35 30

This is a rise of 80%. (see Schenk, 2005: 11)

25 20 15 10 5 0

The main reasons for the so-named “Overaging of a Society” result from two his-











torical trends: 1.

Rise of life expectation


Fall in the birth rate

growth of population 2030 110 105 100

Bevölkerungsstruktur in Österreich 2030

95 90 85 80

Ad. 1

75 70 65

Life expectancy in industrialised nations has now reached its historically high-

60 55

Frauen Männer


est point, and scientific population prognoses indicate that the number will rise


higher in the coming decades. Life expectancy in industrialised nations has risen


40 35

25 20 15

steadily since 1840. On average, women have a greater life expectancy than

10 5 0

men. In countries that have the present highest life expectancy for women, the











rise in the last 160 years has been almost 3 months per year. In 1840, Swedish women with an average age of 45, were the group with the highest life expectancy. In 2005, Japanese women were at the top with an average age of 86. In Austria, the life expectancy has risen 88% in the last century - in 2005 it was 82 for 34

women and 76 for men.(illust.)

growth of population 2050 110 105

The reasons for the rise in life expectancy is made up of a combination of many


Bevölkerungsstuktur in Österreich 2050


2.02 Bevölkerungspyramide 2004, 2030 und 205090(mittlere Variante) Population pyramids in 2004, 2030 and 2050

facts. In the group of life-prolonging factors belong the following: permanently

85 80




70 65


improved medical science, improved knowledge of hygiene, higher standard

60 55


of living and of technical advances, healthier nutrition and generally improved

Frauen Männer

50 45


40 35

life and working conditions for all levels of society. In addition, the fall in the in-



30 25





fant mortality rate has had a strong influence on the average values of the life

15 10


5 0

expectancy statistics. (see Schnabel Sabine, Kristin von Kistowski and James W.











Vaupel, 2006:url)




0 80

The extremely low birth rates of less than 2 children per woman in industrialised countries is the cause of the reduction in population. In modern societies with reduced death rates for infants and children, it has been calculated that each woman, on average, needs to bear 2.1 children, in order to maintain the society, without migration, at a constant level. In Europe, in 1999, this so-called Total Fertility Rate was set at an average of 1.4 children per woman. (see Schimany, 2003:
















Personen, 1.000

Personen, 1.000


the different aging groups

2.03 Bevölkerung 1951 bis 2050 nach breiten Altersgruppen (mittlere Variante) Population 1951 to 2050 by broad age groups

9,5 9,0 8,5 8,0

Vorausschätzung ab 2005


60 und mehr Jahre

7,0 6,5 6,0 5,5 5,0 4,5 4,0 3,5

192, see Reinhard Meier: url)


The population from 1951 to 2050 in


Ad 2


15 bis 59 Jahre

3,0 2,5 2,0 1,5 1,0

3.2 Reasons for the Reduction in Fertility

0 bis 14 Jahre

0,5 0,0 1951 55


Explanation of the terms: fertility and fertility behaviour





















STATISTIK AUSTRIA Statistisches Jahrbuch 2006

In demography, the term fertility describes the process of production of the next 35

generation, that is a result of a combination of individual behaviours. In reference to this, the term generative fertility or fertility behaviour is also used, which is always related to socio-economic and socio-cultural structures, but also to individual norms and values. Generative fertility means, for Max Weber, goal-oriented, meaningful behaviours by individuals or couples who have fertility as their direct goal, but also those who postpone or limit it. (see Schimany 2003: 160) Reasons for the Reduction in Fertility While the reasons for the rise of life expectancy are relatively easy to summarise, there are on the other hand many factors responsible for the historical reduction in fertility. Historische Entwicklung der Lebenserwartung in Österreich expectancy of life in Austria 

causally a family-theoretical reason for the reduction in the birth rate. (see Schi-


many, 2003: 180). There follows, therefore, a sociological explanatory attach-


ment based on points of family theory.


There are many theories attached to this theme, but it is enough to establish

  

  

The beginning tendencies towards limiting the number of births in Europe occurred










to the modernising changes in the socio-economic and socio-cultural frame-

 

at the beginning of the 19th century and the reasons for this can be traced back



works as a result of industrialisation. It is a basic premise that the fertility behaviour of a society is rational behaviour, and a cost/usefulness ratio of parenthood, by which is meant the advantages and disadvantages of having children, the influence upon decisions to have or not have children or the decision to have a par36

ticular size of family. Simply stated, various historical processes have increasingly raised the cost of bringing up children and reduced the usefulness. Through industrialisation, the economic base of traditional business forms has been successively altered. With the introduction of capitalistic forms of production, the traditional family economy, as a common survival base, disappeared. Production or employment was removed from the hands of the household. As a result of this process, and because of the new laws for compulsory schooling and against child labour, children changed from being co-workers to costly members of the family. In the interim phases of this economic change, there were also socio-cultural changes. During the simultaneous existence of family and free enterprise production, the older generation lost power over the younger, to the advantage of modernity. The family cohesion and the traditional norms and values that kept the younger generation in the power of the older, were eroded. There was a great deal of migration and some children left their parents for ever. In this phase, having several children constituted quite a risk. The introduction of the welfare state signalled the final transition from the family to the social solidarity principle. Within this, the state took over the responsibility of social insurance for the aged and the sick, which used to be the job of the family, especially when children were concerned. With this development, the raising of children finally lost its institutional character and was embedded in the private sphere. Of course, parents were still held to be important by the rest of society, 37

but these values no longer were related to material advantages. In the postmodern welfare society, the increase in individual life choices or consumer options and the related community values, present an additional fertility-limiting factor. In fully capitalistic societies, because of the high costs in time and money, the bringing up of children means a limiting of individual consumer options and scope of activity, which is why the desire for children is increasingly postponed or even left unrealised. State financial incentives can offer support, but in no way full compensation - under such conditions the decision to limit the size of one’s family has to be seen as rational behaviour. (see Schimany, 2003: 180 - 192)


4. Trends, Design and the Elderly

4.1 Mobile Phones and the Elderly The elderly can only accept new designs to a limited extent. The reasons for this can be recognised, for example, from the market of mobile telephones. Ownership of a mobile telephone and, importantly, the model, is a question of image, of llife style, that in the case of “mobiles� delivers an extensive chain of association and ascription. Added to that is the fact that the opposite case, not owning a mobile phone, promotes a negative image in western society. The mobile phone is equated with achievement and the fast developing technology that typifies the market for the dynamic, flexible and communicative younger generation. The motive for owning a mobile phone is not influenced by function or usefulness, since a mobile phone does not have the status of a utensil and has only been advanced through designers to the status of a cult object. This trend is not only obvious in the mobile phone market. The same is true for DVD players, MP3 players, computers and even certain kitchen appliances that have become particular life-style objects. This fast-moving trend relates strongly to the extremely low prices of these products. The combination of the high status and low price of these objects can lead the customer into an inconsidered purchase, that leaves a feeling of a good quick 39

deal. Only in this way is it possible to reach such a wide range of people, even though the consequences - the quality suffers - must be obvious. For example, surveys of “Mobile Phones and the Elderly” produced the results that older people look for a rational quantative reason for the necessity of owning a mobile. This group will buy a mobile phone only after having considered deeply and after having increasingly used one themselves. The older generation puts usefulness clearly in the foreground. The older generation’s reasons for needing a mobile are for calling for help when out walking, driving, mountain climbing and when one is alone and can call for help whereever and whenever they wish. In addition, there are certain professional groups, such as doctors, managers, emergency services and salespeople, who, in their opinion, should own a mobile. (see Boden, 2002: 26)



In wellness products, in which a trend has been set through advertisement, styling and design, one can see the positive aspects, especially for older people. Wellness is a difficult word to define. Therefore there are trends that make use of the term and there are products on offer that have not the slightest effect on health or well-being, and each supplier has his own definition of the word. Wellness (well-being/fitness or well-being/happiness) describes a collective term to unify health, fitness, well-being, nutrition and physical activity. This new movement has brought with it a whole range of new looking products onto the market, that guarantee a healthy, ergonomic sitting or lying position. Furthermore, relaxing massage balls and similar “utensils” have been invented.


Masage balls


The new trend in sport, Nordic Walking, is nothing other than rhythmic walking with sticks, while being conscious of one’s breathing. However, because these sticks have their own form and design, they are set apart from normal ski poles or walking sticks, thereby lending this sport its own identity and image, which plays an important part in the success of the sport. If this sport is practised regularly, it has positive results for the heart and circulation. This new activity is especially popular with the elderly, but a multitude of young people are now taking part in this sport. This recreational activity is a good example of a possibility of connecting the generations. (see Jahn, 2003: url) There are negative and positive aspects to a trend. It depends on industry, advertising, manufacturers and developers to see through these aspects and aim to develop the positive.

Nordic Walking Sticks



5. Starting Points for Solutions “If one understands prejudice to be the social attitude towards fringe groups, that touches on opinions of the characteristics of these groups, then it suggests that prejudice can be influenced by changing these opinions. One needs to convince the prejudiced person that the negative characteristics that he has connected with the fringe group in no way label them; on the contrary there is a whole range of positive characteristics that are typical for this group, that he has not yet connected with them.� (Lin, 1999: 33)

5.1 Expectations and Recognition The needs of the elderly are not so easy to discover, since it is often embarassing not to hear as well, not to be so flexible with their hands and not to understand as quickly as they used to. The older one is, the less one wishes to talk about one’s shortcomings. Well-known and qualified market research institutions have established that the elderly belong to the most difficult group, when the concern is an analysis of their wishes, needs or problems. Older people want more consideration, friendliness and comfort. Many situations cause them stress, since they are overwhelmed by situations that have not been conceived with them in mind. They need in their daily lives, more of an overview and more control in almost all areas. Apart from this, there is a great need for security in very many situations and spaces. More information and especially simple information is an important requirement. (see Meyer-Hentschel, 2004: 45-46) 42

More and more frequently, the expectations and recognition of the elderly are not being treated separately. In the near future there will be many more older people who neither see themselves as handicapped nor wish to own special appliances, in whom one only sees the diminishing agility and sensory abilities. Many problems in old age are more creative problems than problems of ageing. Modern, fast-changing products don’t entice older people to use them; products for older people ignore modern colour and form. Therefore the development of new products needs to be rethought, since the needs and demand are not in direct relation to the actual creative products that exist on the market. The fact that the number of older people is rising, cannot be avoided and this fact increases their market potential. Manufacturers, who have up till now, backed the lucrative young market, will have to cope with ever-increasing competition, with increasing advertising costs and with decreasing turnover. Instead of this, forward looking businesses are beginning to look more favourably at the older groups of consumerand to respect them completely. In this way they will profit from the fact that more and more money is being spent each year on products and services that increase the quality of life. In view of these products, one can see that design plays an important role. It is necessary to design products that can offer an independent life style to the older generation, and at the same time, through their design and functionality, are also attractive to the younger generation. The proper relationship between function(support), asthetic (appearance) and symbolic value (statement) will become more and more important in the consumer world. Older people are always more experienced than younger consumers and spend their money more thoughtfully. The quality and longevity of the product will become a deciding factor. Older people also want just as much choice as 43

they had in their younger years, to find their individual “favourites”. In terms of aids, there are differences between the sexes. Women value appearance more than men. For example, it is important to many women to wear support stockings that can hardly be told apart from normal stockings -does the border have lace on it? what colours and patterns are there? are they fastened with suspenders or without? Bandages and corsets, crutches and orthopedic shoes and callipers will all be increasingly selected according to fashion criteria. For men, on the other hand, technical details play a much greater role - what material (Carbon....) is the support made of, what can they do, and which extra functions do they have, are they practical (fold away....) and how much strain can they take. Whether this support is fashionable or modern does not really enter the picture. (see Grasl, 2006)

5.2 Generation-Spanning Design Design for older people is still too often identified with design for limited or handicapped people, but 95 to 96% of older people live an autonomous life without any institutionalised support. Therefore there is a greater need for handles, supports, reading appliances, straps and lifting/turning/pulling aids, that was not supplied or even thought of in earlier years. It is actually the designer’s and developer’s job, or even duty, to make the product available to the widest spectrum of consumers.(see Coleman 1997: 184) 44

Older people should not be seen as a separate group, but rather as a part of the whole, for whom the product has been developed. If niche products are developed for a certain group, this usually leads to stigmatisation of these people and they will avoid using the product whenever possible. This is especially true when their appearance is that of bare functionality, with medical connotations. In the future there should be universal design solutions for products, which function well for all people. If complete and effective use of the product by the average consumer is not ensured, then generation-spanning solutions must be found. Generation-spanning design is an information-orientated method, which shows awareness of the natural, physical and sensory changes of ageing, without eradicating the design of the times. Apart from this, any product would be much more marketable if it could be used by every group of consumers and at the same time, show highly asthetic qualitites.(see Haimann, 2005: 150-154) The fact is that over 400 million people worldwide are affected by age-related deficiency symptoms and, contrary to public opinion, the daily activities of most older people are likened to those of the younger generation. Older people need only a small amount of technical support in walking, climbing, sitting down and standing up. Otherwise, the older generation lives in similar rooms and houses, uses the same products, are neither deaf nor blind and need no wheelchair. They are very similar to young people and also have a strong need for autonomy and to lead an independent, individual life. So if future products do not cater to the physical changes of ageing, our choices will be limited in our old age, thus limiting our lives. (see Coleman 1997:184) 45

5.4 Product Examples Tongs Easireach, folding The arms of these tongs are 66 cm long. It needs very little strength to use them and they are very light, weighing only approx. 198g, since the parts are made of aluminium and plastic. The rubber clamp has a non-slip surface. Underneath the clamp is a magnetic element and on the upper part is a small hook that can be used to help when getting dressed. On the handle is a mounting for using on


walking frames, chairs etc. The tongs can be folded to half their size.

Etac The firm Etac in Sweden has designed and developed aids for people with limited abilities for over 30 years and have helped their customers to lead extensively independent and good lives. Quite a few design awards in Scandinavia, Japan and Germany testify to the fact that Etac has successfully managed to unite quality, functionality and asthetic. Beauty Body Care Products (img.23) - designed by the “Ergonomic Design


Group� are attractive aid to washing. They make it possible to care for your body completely, despite limited use of your hands or arms. These care products are so designed that the greatest possible strength is created by the least possible load on muscles and joints. The wash sponges of this product series are curved 46

to reach all parts of the body. The sponges are both removable and made from a special material that cleans effectively without absorbing water. Brushes and combs are also curved to better fit the shape of your head. A nail file is a utensil that is very difficult to use with weak or stiff fingers. The handle of this nail file is large and fits completely into your hand, making it much easier to use. The file itself can of course be exchanged. img.24 bath board

Bath board: “Fresh”, the bath board from Etac -invented by A&E Design - is simple to install, light and hardwearing. The coloured handle is easy to grip and offers security.


The wider part at the beginning guarantees easy access and the narrower part in the middle makes it comfortable for personal hygiene. The recyclable material is at once smooth and non-slip and is easy to clean.

Cutlery: Kitchen utensils “Relieve” from Ergonomi Design group are tailor made for the needs of older people. For example, the knives are angled to produce stronger cutting power. Even the “Relieve” cheese cutter has an ergonomically angled handle, which ensures that the wrist remains straight, as for a normal wood plane.

img.26 47

In the cutlery series, “Light Cutlery� there are also cutlery combinations available. There is fork/spoon combination for both left and right handers, and a spoon/ knife combination. In addition, there are spoons that are sharply curved to the left or right, as well as normal cutlery that has better cutting and gripping angles. (see Etac, 2005: 48-51) img.28 Good Grips: Good Grips kitchen appliances are simple and handy. Their handles lie well in the hand and are ergonomically shaped. The basic equipment, alongside the knife, fork and spoon, include a whisk, scissors, sieve, vegetable peeler, measuring jug, ice-cream server, garlic press, apple corer and a vegetable brush, which covers all areas of cooking. In addition, Good Grips is continually extending their product line, the latest of which is for garden tools with the same tried and tested



large Santopren rubber handles. They are easy to grip, non-slip and minimize the pressure needed, since the handles spread out the maximum gripping power. These characteristics make it possible to use these products effectively. The Good Grips assortment is not only highly functional but the products also look stable and elegant rather than ungainly. In this way products for every age are achieved and no specialty product is developed that could have a discriminatory effect. Betty Farber suffered from arthritis, which greatly limited her movements as she


was cooking. Her husband, Sam Farber, who owned a kitchen wholesale busi-

Good Grips kitchen appliances


ness, sold his business, being convinced that he could design far better kitchen utensils. He commissioned the design firm, Smartdesign, New York to take on this problem. Out of this cooperative initiative between Sam Farber, who specialised in marketing and design, and Smart design, was born a good-looking, functional img.32

range of products, suitable to people of all ages. This is borne out by the numbers of sales in Great Britain, which have risen dramatically since the introduction of


apple corer


the products onto the English market. If products are developed that can minimize putative problems such as those of Betty Farber, and at the same time, through good design and good appearance do not discriminate against anyone and, in addition achieve a good position on the market, then such products can become market leaders.(OXO, 2006: url) Good Grips garden tools

img.34 Rollator Tango is a modern rollator and is supplied with a patented EBS braking system, which is carried through the framework. The brakes have been tested for 60,000 cycles and are etremely hard wearing. The firm that produces the brakes offers a 5 year guarantee on this braking system. The handles, and the brakes, can be height-adjusted. Tango is also supplied with a seat area and a back strap. The seat is transparent in order to see the ground when walking. In addition, a shopping basket, a tray and an aid to getting over pavement edges is part of the package.

img.35 49

Rollmobil Sanicare Active This rollator (img.36) has an aluminium frame and is therefore very light. It can be easily folded so is easy to pack away. The integrated seat folds up in order to open and close the basket. The basket is made of a transparent material and is very roomy. The height of the seat is separately adjustable. The handles can be adjusted from 150 to 195 cm. The large front wheels offer maximum accident img.36

security. Its modern, simple appearance makes this rollator a comfortable companion. (see Bst‰ndig, 2005) Beakers: With their beaker series “Ergonomic” ASA Selection combines perfect modern good looks with simple humour and ergonomics. The beakers are easy to grip


and lie comfortably in the hand. (ASA, 2005) “Nosy” (img.38) is a beaker for people who find it difficult or impossible to lean backwards when drinking. The cut out area gives the nose room and enables the beaker to be tipped up high. (see Ovata 2004: url) Metaform Hygiene System: This system, developed by the design firm “Design Continuum”, contains a toilet, a shower and bath module and a wash basin. Each of these elements can be adjusted to meet the needs of all members of the household. The characteristics


img.38 50

of the system are such that they make it easier for people of all ages to use. As well as these services, their products are the same as any normal sanitary fittings. The wash basin has a soft but hardwearing surface. The height can be quickly and easily adjusted from adult height to that of a small child. The toilet has armrests, that can be folded down separately. The armrests make for secure and comfortable sitting, and simplify getting up and sitting down. Like the wash basin, the toilet can be adjusted to various heights. The flush mechanism is placed


so that it can be operated by an elbow. The shower has a waterproof digital temperature adjustment, in order to get just the right temperature, whether for a baby or an elderly person. (see Miller, 2006:url) Door fittings:

img.40 digital temperature adjustment

Limbar is a series of door fittings from Allgood and have been developed for use in hospitals. They can be easily operated with the lower arm and so served the hospital staff who often did not have a hand free to open the door. Very soon it became obvious that this method was not only important in hospitals but could be used for people who were fighting the battle of limited grip and similar problems. Apart from that, these handles are accident proof, which normal door handles are not. The highly asthetic line (illustr.42) and the multitude of uses make the handles and levers of the Limbar series a modern and functional product,

img.41 “Limbar�door fittings


well oriented to future needs. The door handles can also be supplied with self lit markings (illustr.), which leads to easier orientation in the dark.

img.43 51

Pharmaceutical packaging design: A good example of pharmaceutical packaging. “Older users of medicines - and they are the largest and most constantly growing target group in this market must be considered to be consumers and not patients.” Through precisely worked out user profiles, it is possible to meet the needs of older people, for example the need for individual control, for an overview, for ease of dosage and for an easy



and efficient seal. If these important factors of package design become habit, then a stable, self-directed atmosphere prevails. “MediFile” and “Week-Pack” are products that fulfil this pattern exactly. MediFiles are medication packages in the form of two pages (img.45) On the left side, in an easily legible print, are the instructions for use, which are extremely important and on the right are the medications, chronologically ordered and graphically structured. These pages are kept in a folder together with the prescription and other necessary information. The Week-Pack helps to prevent confusion and forgetfulness. The prescription is


not only for a certain medication but also for the packaging of the medication in


these Week-Packs. The clear plastic foil is printed with the exact date and time. If necessary, these weekly rations could be delivered to the patient’s home. Also the “twin pill” - two halved pills packed as one - (illustr.46) is a simple solution to the traditional difficult method of halving 700 to 800 mg tablets. In addition, nothing changes in the outside appearance of the pill packaging in order to prevent unnecessary stress for the patient. (Coleman, 1997: 172) img.46 twinpill 52

Summary In summing up, it must be said that utensils in our lives have a much greater influence on us and our surroundings than one originally assumed. In this one must not only consider physical body conditions, which are unavoidable and cannot be changed. Because the way in which our everyday utensils function, how great their status symbol value is and the way they look, has a decisive influence on the way we feel. This phenomenon is clarified if one compares the product examples of chapters 2 and 5. No one normally wishes to be treated separately and in contrast to the definite ageing of the organism, all aids and in general, all fittings produced by people can help to prevent the generations from excluding and stigmatising each other. Product development, alongside architechture and services, plays a considerable role in our lives and can make daily life much more comfortable for all parties. Thus the product designer carries a greater part of the total responsibility as opposed to the end consumer, that we, in the long run, all are. I see that my task (the goal) is to let functionality and aids on the medical side melt together with the modern techniques of design and development in order to achieve a more humane environment. Every person grows old and that should be considered.



Books: Augerger Kathrin

Das Image der Alten im öffentlichen Dikurs


Bäker Bernard A.

Alles über Gelenkerkrankungen


- Arthritis, Arthrose, Gelenkrheuma -

Baltes &

Zukunft des Alterns

J. Mittelstrass

Gruyter Vlg., Berlin/New York

2000 Boden Julia Christina

Ältere Menschen & Handys

2002 Coleman Roger

Design für die Zukunft


- Wohnen und Leben ohne Barrieren -

DuMont, Köln


Duden, Band 1

Das große Wörterbuch der deutschen




Frahm Eckart

Funkkolleg Altern1



- Die vielen Gesichter des Alters -



Funkkolleg Altern2

-Lebenslagen und Lebenswelten, soziale

Sicherung und Altenpolitik –

Westdeutscher Verlag, Wiesbaden

Haimann Richard

Alt! - Wie wichtigste Konsumentengruppe

der 2005

Zukunft die Wirtschaft verändert –

Redline Wirtschaft , Frankfurt

Leibold Gerhard



-Erfolgreiche Naturheilverfahren und Vor

sorge durch Sehtraining nach Dr.Bates -

Dr. Werner Jopp Verlag, Wiesbaden


Lin Susanne

Vorurteile überwinden


- eine friedenspädagogische Aufgabe -

Grundlegung und Darstellung einer Unter


Weinheim/ Basel

Öko-Institut e.V.

Freizeitgesellschaft zwischen Umwelt, Spaß


und Märkten

Meisterdruck, Freiburg

Internet: Hesse Gerhard. Laubert A.

Hörminderung im Alter

- Ausprägung und Lokalisation -

Deutsches Ärzteblatt 102,

Ausgabe 42 vom 21.10.2005,

Seite A-2864 / B-2417 / C-2278

Jahn Dr. Hans-Dieter

Universität Leipzig


Mit Stock über Stein - Nordic Walking als


deale Weg zum gesunden Herzen


Meier Reinhard

Sterben die Europäer aus?

Miller Herman

Metaform, designed as an advanced


personal hygiene concept for the Herman

Miller Research Corporation, removes the

hazards and barriers of traditional bathrooms.


Alltagshilfen - Wohlbefinden


OXO International 2006

About the roots

Schnabel Sabine, Kristin von Kistowski und

Immer neue Rekorde und kein Ende iSicht

- Der Blick in die Zukunft lässt Deutschland grauer

aussehen als viele erwarten James W. Vaupel 2005

05.06.2006 57

Universität Bielefeld

Was ist Demografie?


am 04.12.2005

Interviews: Grasl Cristian

Orthopädie- /Reha Techniker & Bandagist



Dauer: 2h 54m

Priba 78J





Steinberger Beathe



Gemeinsam leben

Dauer: 38m

Magazines: Meyer-Hentschel H.



-Generationsgerechte Entwicklung und

Vermarktung von Produkten und Dienstleistungen-

B usinessVillage GmbH, Göttingen 58

San aktiv

Kundenkatalog 2005

2006 Bständig



Statistics: Statistik Austria



Picture Index: img.1

nach John Gill: Access Prohibited, RNIB, London 1997

img.2 and 3

Bernard A. Bäker: Alles über Gelenkerkrankungen, 17-20


H. Meyer-Hentschel: Seniorenmarketing, 26

img.5 and 6

nach Jegou Francois, Paris


H. Meyer-Hentschel: Seniorenmarketing, 45

img.8, 9 and 10

San ktiv Kundenkatalog 2005, A21, B1, K20

img.11 and 12

Bständig Kundenkatalog 2006, 22


San ktiv Kundenkatalog 2005, A23


H. Meyer-Hentschel: Seniorenmarketing, 38

img.15 to 19

Statistik Austria 2005 59




Hofersortiment 2005


San ktiv Kundenkatalog 2005, K11

img.23 to 30

Etac Kundenkatalog 2006,

img.31 to 34

OXO International, 2006;


Etac Kundenkatalog 2006,


Bständig Kundenkatalog 2006, 9


ASA-Selection, Foto A.wurnig



img.39 and 40


“Design Continuum”;

img.41 to 46


Roger Coleman, Design für die Zukunft; 126, 127; 173


Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.