Considering Elderly

Page 1

Considering Elderly

A design research exploration into the experience of aging

Considering elderly I Introduction & background A number of key demographic, economic, socio-cultural and technology forces are reshaping the elderly care landscape and shifting our perceptions and expectations around aging and independent living. How can design help citizens, policy-makers, product manufacturers and care service providers respond to these challenges in innovative, socially sensitive and sustainable ways? How can we rethink the experience of aging in today’s society? fuelfor, in collaboration with soft product designer Ollie Niemi and product designer Ferran Lajara, carried out a preliminary design research project to explore the needs of elderly people, their families and care givers and identify opportunities for innovation. In a fast track process of 3 weeks from research-to-concept-to-prototyping, a set of provocative idea seeds have been developed and will be used to communicate a range of innovation opportunities found to exist within elderly care - from clothing to services, policies to built environment solutions.

project set-up

field research / interviews

synthesis / creative workshop / prototyping


Staying relevant and competitive within the constraints of the current economic climate is a challenge for many companies and organisations. As R&D budgets and resources are being cut, key health care issues remain unresolved. There is a need for a lower investment-lower risk innovation offer that can allow companies to keep innovating through the downturn - an essential characteristic to survive and succeed.

Considering elderly I Because... By the year two thousand and thirty, half of the population of Western Europe will be over fifty years old.

Above the age of sixty-five, on average every third person suffers fall-related injuries.

One in every three fallen elderly will die as a direct implication of their fall.

The total medical cost of fall-related injuries is nineteen billion dollars per year.

Considering elderly I Who did we talk to?

A qualitative sample of 6 elderly people aged 65+ years and living at home alone, with family or in a care home were invited to participate in the study. Key stakeholders, such a family members and care workers, were also included to understand an holistic set of issues and needs. In a comprehensive study we might also include clinical care providers, insurance companies, policy makers and urban planners to complete a stakeholder map.

Considering elderly I Design Research

In-home visits, ethnographic observation, interactive interviews, guided tours and group discussions were some of the design research techniques used to gather insights into elderly people’s daily lifestyle, attitudes and needs.

Considering elderly I Design workshop process

synthesise research material

generate ‘what if?’ scenarios

cluster key stakeholder needs

visualise ideas

create innovation framework

prototype selected concepts

Considering elderly I Workshop results The ideation workshop generated numerous idea seeds, formulated as a list of ‘what if’ scenarios. Based on technological feasibility and impact on a range of levels from individual to urban, selected ideas were visualised and some selected for rapid creative prototyping and testing.

Urban props

78 ‘what if’ scenarios 8 concepts described in this presentation

Vitalising care homes Community care Myway Sharing goals

Rehabilitation clothing UpgrAID Indicating clothing

Considering elderly I UpgrAID 1 in 3 elderly fall and injure themselves, often leading to hospitalisation, a rapid decline in physical and mental condition and potentially even death. For this reason some elderly are afraid to venture out of their home for fear of falling. Ironically, staying mobile and active also contributes to healthy aging. Existing hip protection products are stigmatising and suffer from non-compliance over time. Advances in materials technologies offer new functionalities that can be incorporated into clothing. d3o is one such smart material that offers protection on impact. This idea combines a service and a product - a bespoke upgrading service that is offered in a senior store or rehab clinic, integrating a soft protector into clothing such as an overcoat to offer fall protection in a comfortable, non stigmatising, flexible way.

losing balance

doctor consultation

senior shop

upgrAIDed coat

active protection on impact

staying active

Considering elderly I UpgrAID High performance sportswear integrates advanced materials technology that allows people to push the boundaries of physical activity while staying comfortable and safe. Such textile technology can also be integrated into functional clothing for elderly to extend the boundaries of their safe and confident mobility, opening up a potential new territory of innovation.

schoeller速-PCM actively balances out too cold or too hot temperatures. Phase Change Materials (PCM) change their state of matter at a certain temperature: from liquid to solid and vice versa. When the temperature rises, the excess heat is stored. When the temperature falls, the previously stored heat is released again.

interface with coat

PCM intelligent insulation


d3o protection inserts

pocket for valuables d3o is a specially engineered material made with intelligent molecules. They flow with you as you move but on shock lock together to absorb the impact energy. d3o has been developed for high impact sport applications such as head, knee, hip, wrist, elbow protector.

Considering elderly I UpgrAID

With the soft protector integrated into a coat it can be simply closed around the hips to provide snug and reassuring protection. Discreet storage offers a secure yet accessible place for valuables such as keys. By detaching from the coat, the soft protector can be worn at home as a stand alone product, providing comfort by actively balancing temperature.

Šfuelfor 2009

Considering elderly I Rehabilitation clothing Elderly may struggle to perform regular rehabilitation and general mobility exercises due to a lack of understanding of the need to stay active, boredom with routines leading to non-compliance, feeling unsafe performing exercises on their own. Physiotherapists and rehab specialists encourage elderly to maintain an exercise routine at home, but need to be able to adapt care plans according to capability as people age, get ill and their movement deteriorates. This garment idea offers elderly a simple, fun and safe way to perform rehab and mobility exercises in the home. It also offers care givers the opportunity to modify and tailor exercises for patients in a simple, effective way by using pockets around the garment as a flexible system.

Considering elderly I Rehabilitation clothing

Šfuelfor 2009

Considering elderly I Indicating clothing Managing clothing to stay hygienic, comfortable and safe can be a challenge for elderly due to their reduced movement, memory, mobility, sight and sense of cold. This idea offers garments that indicate frequency of usage and wear through simple visual feedback, and enlarged narrative graphics.

Considering elderly I Indicating clothing

Thermo-chromic ink indicates wear, changing to orange with body temperature and resetting back to green on washing temperature.

Šfuelfor 2009

Considering elderly I Myway Families struggle to confront and effectively address difficult issues related to aging loved ones and the accompanying impact on lifestyles and routines. They find it hard to clearly identify the choices theyface, as well as to feel a sense of control over their decision-making. This idea is an interactive, visual tool that helps people discuss sensitive subjects and work out possible future scenarios in order to plan with effectiveness and reassurance. The kit could also be used by other groups such as: human resource managers discussing retirement and pension options with their employees, social workers facilitating decision-making together with the families they support or clinical professionals discussing care options with patients and their families.

Considering elderly I Myway

Participants were given a memento of the workshop; a booklet reminding them of the key principles of experience design for health care and a set of red dots to continue identifying experience-based improvement areas for NHS Scotland. Šfuelfor 2009

Considering elderly I Sharing goals Staying physically active, maintaining cognitive skills, staying hydrated and eating fruit and vegetables can be challenging for people of all ages. It can be more motivating to achieve common goals through collaboration. This idea enables elderly and their care givers, professional or informal, to set shared activity, diet or cultural goals using a set of tools appropriate for each of them; a paper calendar with stickers or an i-Phone digital application. Both are visual, use the same icons and can be shared and discussed to plan and review activities together. Individual achievements are rewarded and add up to collective rewards that motivate them to work together towards their goals.

Considering elderly I Community care Elderly people interact regularly and develop relationships with certain local community members such as grocery store owners, newsagents, bakers, butchers etc. Often these people have greater insight into the condition and activities of elderly than their family or more formal care givers - they can keep a look out for them in a neighbourly, friendly way. This idea connects such informal care givers in order to create a basic level of support at a community level that can encourage elderly to feel safe and be active, as well as provide additional insight for formal care givers. Basic training can be given to equip them with the necessary skills to provide inthe-community care, while offering additional social and business incentives to justify the additional effort involved.

Considering elderly I Vitalising care homes Care homes can be isolating places, fortress-like inside the city or placed on the urban periphery. This can have a stigmatising and isolating effect on the inhabitants, care workers and society in general. This idea looks at ways to create a de-centralised care home in and around the city; connecting elderly to city services and facilities, maintaining their contact to other citizens and reducing the stigma associated with care facilities. There are a range of aspects to this idea; for example designing combined care facilities for elderly and children that reconnect generations through shared activities and create a positive impression, flexible care plans that offer variable lengths of stay from hourly to daytime to permanent, or dynamic care environments that stimulate the senses.

Considering elderly I Urban props Cities such as Barcelona cultivate green spaces and social zones, and indeed some elderly people gather in parks to socialise, play games together and relax. They modify the urban landscape to store their belongings and set up areas for group games of cards, petanca, dominoes or chess. But not all elderly can reach a park or feel confident enough to venture out into the city. This idea is a range of street furniture that adapts the existing urban landscape to create areas for rest, play and social life dotted around the city. Providing supportive props such as seats, chessboards and storage to encourage and enable elderly people to enjoy life outdoors.

Considering elderly I Urban props

Considering elderly I Next steps

Reflecting on the project to date, we have found that through exploring this field we are better able to comprehend the complexity of social, cultural and economic issues around the experience of aging in today’s society. However, we also see a wealth of rich opoportunity areas where design and innovation could make a tangible difference for the elderly population, their families and care givers. We are currently in an evaluation stage of the project, going back to research participants to gather feedback on the workshop concepts. We are actively seeking opportunities to communicate the project, as well as identify partners and clients interested in developing some of these ideas further. If you are working on the topic of elderly living or are interested in collaborating in this field, we would love to hear from you. On a personal note, this project was inspiring, connecting us with a whole generation of people we rarely have a chance to meet and spend time with. Their stories and experiences, attitudes and challenges have opened our eyes to our own preconceptions about age, and our expectations around relationships across generations. We became in touch with the prospect of our own aging but equipped with a fresh perspective - more open, less fearful and certainly more motivated to address some of the issues that prevent age from being celebrated in society. Finally, we would like to thank all of the people who agreed to participate in this study for their time, honesty and generosity without which we could not have learnt so much in so short an amount of time.

Thank You! Please contact us for further details: fuelfor Barcelona +34 620 838 110 I C. Zamora 46, 6/2 08005, Barcelona Twitter: @fuelfor I I fuelfor Singapore +65 842 203 27 I #03-08 Middle Road 111, Singapore Twitter: @fuelfor I I

a fuelfor publication, ©fuelfor 2009

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.