How to design for aging population? Part two

Accessibility and inclusive design applications are not only in the functionality of the products. A product should be available in production economically viable and achievable for users who want to buy it.  What concerns us as a designers is not to exceed the purchasing power of older adults, think of a really innovative solution without affecting the functional needs of the individual economy.

Captura de pantalla 2018-07-11 a las 11.44.48 for aging, gerontodesignWe know that accidents in the elder’s home are caused either by negligence or a lack of compliance with safety standards. As a designers we can “take care” of the elderly, we can protect it’s own random error. First we need to understand that disability is generated by the environment around the person. That is: the designer is the generator of disability and in this case the uncertainty of the individual. We propose the following recommendations on the security aspect:

Light products

We know many older adults have loss of muscle mass and thus lose strength, so it is necessary to include materials whose weight exceeds what the average effort for an older adult. We must return to new materials such as high strength steels which are light and strong, we can also use panels instead of sheets, go to the biomimicry to create lighter and stronger products.

Unbreakable products

Besides being lighter, the whole object that is related to an older adult should be in some way indestructible, that if we expect life to be long. For example, a television, a telephone or dishes. It is necessary that the products are resistant to a myriad of possible accidents, it goes without saying that the use of glass will not be required, opt for polymers or composites that are safe to use.


Any product or system focused on the elderly should have away of feedback that has made use of optimally or that there is an error in its use. To do this we must not forget that all feedback should be based on the use of 2 or more additional senses. The feedback should be afforded more than one way, focusing on the 5 senses of the person: touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing. Remembering that the use of complementary senses facilitate access to information, for example the combination of sight and hearing.

Audible and tactile feedback will be used, the space should have strategically placed objects and is orderly strictly prohibited place objects extremely close to each other, should there be a space or diagram of product placement. The use of contrast of textures on objects and environments that surround the person may provide the spatial location that is required.

The tactile feedback is arguably the most elementary, it appeals to the instincts of man, remember that one of the first phases of our life is related to the touch starting with the oral stage, which is in the 18 life month.

The focus of pleasure is, of course, mouth (Freud, 1905). That is why tactile feedback can be successfully applied to support people with some form of dementia, like Alzheimer’s.

The texture change should suggest a pattern to guide the brain instinctively toward the end of the activity while the person will tell you that their action has taken place. Examples are the proposed work by Dr. Dipl – Ing Architektin M. Sc Caroline Günther – Luckow.


Text based on:

Maya-Rivero, A. 2012. Gerontodiseño: conceptualización y formulación de sus estrategias para una mejor calidad de vida del adulto mayor. Caso de estudio: Problemas del adulto mayor mexicano en la preparación de alimentos. Maestría, Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México.

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Publicado por Annika Maya Rivero

Fundadora del blog para personas mayores: Mayores de Hoy. Diseñadora e instructora de karate do. Escribo sobre envejecimiento, gerontodiseño, diseño y demencia, prospectiva, vejez. Las artes marciales, el deporte y la vida saludable y sostenible me apasionan.

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