Co-design with older adults

A creative workshop scene. A woman is holding a pair of scissors, another is holding a pen over paper. Co-design with older adults.Finding out what older adults might want and need in their daily living experiences takes more than just asking them, especially if they have a cognitive impairment. A recent study found that using creative methods, such as drawing and creating models, older people can express their needs in a tactile format. This also creates rapport with designers who can then devise better mobility, dining and leisure activities. This method is enjoyable for all participants.

The title of the article is, Participatory Design with Older Adults: Exploring the Latent Needs of Young-Old and Middle-Old in Daily Living Using a Universal Design Approach. You will need institutional access for a free read from SpringerLink.

Or ask for a free read through ResearchGate.

From the abstract:

Population ageing will continue to accelerate due to continuing decline in fertility and improvement in survival in major diseases. People who are experiencing cognitive or physical impairment, they often feel alone and experience different degrees of social loneliness.

This paper discusses co-design experiences with various stakeholders to explore latent needs of older persons in their daily living using a universal design approach. Through iterative use of creative methods, freehand sketching and physical models, older adults express their needs in a more accurate, tactile format.

Findings reveal that commonality of interest among older persons are important in building rapport among other participants. It also helps designers develop designs related to health care, mobility, dining and leisure activities.

Older adults and co-design

Close up of an older man and woman with their heads together dancing. He is wearing a hat and cravat, and she is wearing a red flower in her hair. They look loving.Older adults want the same designs as anyone else. Too often older people are gathered together under the umbrella of “the elderly”. This term assumes everyone is the same. It’s applied to people as young as 60 or 65 and every age after that. We can debate the terms of “older” and “elderly” but in the end, we are talking about people and design.

An article in Design Week challenges assumptions about older people and design. It reports on a study involving older people in design projects. They found older people “want what we want”. The ‘we’ in this context is young designers. A key point is that people can live independently for longer if things are designed around their needs. In the end, age isn’t relevant. But designing inclusively is. That’s why devices designed specifically for older people are bought but often abandoned. 

The title of the article is, Why age is often the “least relevant thing” when co-designing with the elderly.  It’s an easy read magazine article with good points for designers.

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