|Aging in Place: A New Design Era...|
We are living in a unique period. Never before in the history of our planet has the world contained so many older people—or such a large percentage of them. Tomorrow's product and environmental designs must respond to our aging population's emerging 'age-in-place' consumer market.
AS WE ENTER THE 21st CENTURY, designers and marketers will continue to shape the environmental context within which millions of today's aging consumers will live, work, and play.
The question is, will manufacturers and builders continue to produce products and living environments that discriminate against age and disability—or—will the growing demands of our exploding aging "silver market" ignite a conscious effort to eliminate the design barriers, which have, for too long, deprived too many of their dignity and independence?
It's ironic that the very technology that prolongs the life of our aging friends and relatives, also yields frustrating consumer products and environments that rob them of their status, their roles, their independence, their self-respect.
For too long, people of all ages and abilities have had to adapt both body and mind to those "cool," but callous, youth-targeted products and environments designed to dispense short term pleasure and status at the cost of human- sensitive, long term, physical and sensory accommodation.
The design community carries a pivotal responsibility for correcting the problem. As it starts to shape the next generation of homes and products, a new priority —transgenerational accommodation—must augment the past's "aesthetics only" concern that drives much of today's unseemly design and marketing energy.
A New Consumer Mind-set
Today, 50 million middle-aged, the driving force behind yesterday's youth culture, are racing toward the threshold of senior citizenship. The first wave is starting to cross the line.
Their collective demands for age-accommodating products and environments are sparking a dramatic transformation of our products and environments, houses and workplaces, transportation systems—even our playgrounds and recreational facilities.
a powerful "age
Key Issue: persuading
and home builders
Ending Discrimination by Design
By contrast, attractive transgenerational designs accommodate rather than discriminate; sympathize rather than stigmatize; and innovate rather than replicate. Such designs appeal to young and older users. They do this by:
THINK ABOUT WHERE YOU LIVE, the products you use. How often do you become frustrated as you go about your daily tasks? Have you ever raised a blister? Sprained an ankle? Cut a finger? Broken a bone? Become pregnant?
How well does the design of your house and your products really serve your needs? AFTER PURCHASING your last "cool," "enticing," "fashionable" product, how soon did its in-store promise of comfort and convenience morphe into curses of pain, anger, fatigue and frustration?
THE BOTTOM LINE — Shouldn't your home and its products—furniture, appliances, cabinetry, computers, kitchen utensils, bathroom fixtures, flooring, hand tools, lighting, etc.—be just as easily used by an arthritic grandfather, a teenager with a broken ankle, a Baby Boomer in a wheelchair, a veteran with one arm, or even a pregnant 20-something bride with poor eyesight? Of course they should!
Five ways you can help!
Competition to attract this exploding market will intensitify. Transgenerational design is the emerging option for attracting— and accommodating— people of all ages and abilities.
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