What Makes Design for Elders Different?

Listen to the Audio: What Makes Design for Elders Different?

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 Steve leads off this discussion of the importance of knowing the problems of older adults when designing products for the 'senior' marketplace.

Bad Design: Tightly sealed bottles and jars ("childproof = person-proof"). Heat sealed plastic packaging. Small fonts and lack of print/background contrast. A clamshell packaging opener that doesn't work. Tub/shower combinations which are a real trip or slip-and-fall hazard.

Good Design:  Easy to remove med bottle caps. A date magnifier on watch crystals. Intuitive design for the user to understand. A clamshell plastic package opener that works; a vertical grab bar in and outside shower or bath, and button pullers for aging fingers.

Pet Peeves: Getting batteries out of remote controls and other tight places. Non-intuitive shower/spigot swivel; nonintuitive car radio controls. 'Too tiny' pills, and pills lacking easy identifiers. Button fastening difficulties; and towel bars that do not support falling weight in an emergency. 

These conditions should be taken into account when designing products for aging adults: Visual and/or hearing deficits, diminished strength or tremors, rigidity (inflexibility), and balance balance problems.

The group agrees that the commercial field has a long way to go to develop products with these factors in mind.


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Key words: 
Design for older adults, age friendly design