Age Awareness Makes Headway in Design Circles

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Hear this discussion from our Longevity Explorers — circles of older adults who meet monthly to explore solutions to the challenges that come with aging.

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from: Longevity Explorers | Sequoias SF, SF Village

Discussion Summary

Explorer Lynn shares an article from the SF Chronicle's Business Report, Saturday, May 4th, 2019. It describes the use of an 'age suit' intended to be worn by younger designers or engineers to simulate the functional constraints of an aging body. One member recalls reading of someone placing pebbles in shoes to simulate the pain of neuropathy. In the field of travel, the 30-lb suit helps young designers experience navigate airports from the standpoint of handicapped elders. 

Some of their learnings included:

  • Older adults tend to miss overhead signs (due to looking down)
  • Elders head directly to their departure gate to avoid missing their flight (ergo put concessions nearer the gates).
  • Shiny floors look slippery and dangerous to older eyes
  • T-coil public address systems are helpful for the hearing impaired
  • Airi glasses allow staff to view the path that low vision persons are taking

Members reminisce about the moment of awareness that they were advancing in age:

  • Bus seat yielded by a younger person 
  • Left keys inside the house 
  • Wearing clothes inside out,
  • At the DMV, fingerprints fade,
  • Aches and pains 
  • Feeling like a 'season out of time' (I'm in my '70s but feel like a younger person).
  • Awkwardness, irregular gait or stamina changes 
  • Living among older people at a senior community, 'graying woman in the blue jacket', 

When asked what to do to feel younger, one member volunteers: a 2nd or 3rd martini; another says that much 'senior humor' often not really funny.   

Advantages of advancing age: The group agrees that it is the ability to confess need for a little help without feeling ashamed  for doing so.




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Key words: 
age suit, age friendly design, Design for older adults, design thinking