Senior Products Are Offensive
What do Jitterbug, Flipper, and Depends have in common? They all target the senior market with ‘seniorized’ versions of other products. According to Schurman, people 65 and older are the fastest growing consumer group for Apple products (iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Macs). Did Apple set out to produce senior products? Of course not. Apple is the pricey cool tech for the hippest people, regardless of age. Apple didn’t make a large button phone to lure in seniors, they made great products that everyone wants. No one wants to be ‘othered.’ Apple understands solving for usability and like ability, not age.
Stage Not Age
Design for stage not age, according to Frank Leyhausen. A fifty-year-old may be a new grandparent but so can an 80-year-old. Stage refers to many aspects of human life including where you live, family composition, sexual orientation, faith community, employment, and other lifestyle factors that define us. Stage not age.
Durable Medical Equipment
Age is not the marker for disability either. It is true that advanced age often means more chronic health conditions and physical limitation for many but not all. How do medical equipment manufacturers design the products on the market today? Certainly, these wealthy successful companies do not design with but for ‘the other.’
No one wants the CMS sanctioned transfer bench, shower chair, rollator, wheelchair, walker, and (shall I go on) other equipment that looks straight out of a 1930s sanatorium. Too many people with mobility and other chronic health conditions prefer to remain at home rather than venture out using equipment that screams of “I am not equal to you.” Feeling vulnerable, and ‘othered,’ is increasing the social isolation of many people who could contribute greatly to our communities and companies.
Adult incontinence industry is booming. The commercials are hilarious. Have you notice they only feature middle-aged women in dresses? The advertisers and manufacturers designed for and not with their consumers. Were these products made to wear with tight fitting spandex-ed skinny-leg jeans? Of course not. We see the results everywhere and it looks bad. The natural curve of the human figure is replaced with a blob of material swaying unnaturally under the tight-fitting jeans. Diapers are made for babies. Adult incontinence products should not be a ‘seniorized’ version of these products.
I am speaking on behalf of every faceless, voiceless consumer. Consumers will speak with their wallets. The ugly designs that past generations tolerated are no longer acceptable. Design with us not for us. Think of us as the complex vibrant people living through stages not ages.