Why - is our purpose
To enable older adults an active and successful engagement with life and the digital and non-digital world surrounding them, and consequently lead to successful aging.
How - is our process
We bring the voice of older adults into the design, development and learning process of digital products and services.
What - is the result
The fit between our clients' service or product attributes to the user experience, and the older users' changing abilities, attitude, acceptance, performance, usage, and buildup of self-efficacy and skills.
“There are so many little things that make life more difficult when you’re older — “little” things that seem to be arbitrary. Little things that aren’t so little when the body is aging and doesn't feel like it used to, and you can’t think, or see, or hear so well anymore”
“Either your memory is not so great anymore, or your attention, so you’re more easily distracted. Or you have tremors in your hand that interferes with your manual dexterity when manipulating a mouse, and eye-hand coordination. Or your joints hurt from arthritis which makes it hard to type. Or just all of these together—that’s aging.”
A quote from an online interview during the Covid-19 lockdown
To make technology available and accessible for older adults, it is critical to understand the complex interaction process between older adults and the digital environment.
The acquisition of authentic knowledge about the hugely diverse older adults is an essential key to know and understand what older adults really need and want.
Longevity economy & age tech ecossystem
“In coming decades, many forces will shape our economy and our society, but in all likelihood no single factor will have as pervasive an effect as the aging of our population.”
Ben Bernanke US. federal Reserve chairman 2006
The longevity economy
Businesses must recognize the tremendous potential of the longevity revolution that is happening - the aging population is generating the most significant economic opportunity of our time.
People live longer, and society is transforming. In 2018, for the first time in history, people aged 65 or older outnumbered children younger than five globally. The number of people aged 80 years or older is projected to triple, from 149 million in 2020 to 426 million in 2050. The ability to live longer, healthier lives and participate in social activity is one of humankind’s most significant accomplishments.
That means that as the population of elders increases, so grows a consumer group that buys new products and services. The aging population can continue to be full-service participants in the economy at large.
The digital divide
The term "Digital-divide" not only identifies who uses digital platforms and services and who doesn't but more in-depth, it expresses the levels of digital and social exclusion of older adults.
Less use of digital platforms and services among older adults has harmful social, and health implications, as digital life becomes more integrated into everyday life and well-being. People who can not align with the digital reality are more likely to be disadvantaged, isolated, and lonely.
Dependence on technology during the COVID-19 pandemic has widened the digital-divide and bluntly brought it to the front. Many older adults will have to depend heavily on digital platforms and technology during this period of social distancing. It is crucial to consider those who cannot rely on technology as others and those who have access but find it difficult using it.
The younger generation, those who now develop and design new products and services, take technology for granted. They were born into it and grew up as the technology was evolving. They learned everything fast, as their brains could soak up knowledge. For the older generation, who were already adults before these rapid technological advances occurred, practicing the technology and remember how to use ut is more complicated.
Reduced exposure to new technology is a significant catalyst for the digital-divide among older adults. Without the understanding or ability to pay for and keep up with current technology, they are left too far behind. In most cases, they have fallen too far behind to feel that catching up is a viable possibility and tend to give up.
Older adults as a group are not monolithic concerning digital platform usage. Within the population of older adults, internet adoption rates differ by age, digital literacy, gender, education, income, lifestyle, and health.
The digital divide impacts seniors inactivity and loneliness, which leads to reduced health and depression.
Briding the digital gap
The ageFriendly method
At design4all, we developed our work approach and method which relies on deep understanding of the different aging dimensions—especially considering normative aging decline, age-related impairments, and older adults' behavior in digital and physical environments.
Much of older adults' behavior in everyday life is governed by four significant factors: aging decline, motivation, benefit, and self-efficacy. Motivation and self-efficacy are principle "emotional factors," which we consider highly substantial factors that govern older adults' attitudes and behavior towards digital platforms and services and prevent them from using it.
Sensations of "I can't do this anymore" or "this is not for my age anymore" or "I will probably not remember that" become increasingly real and turn out to be negative drivers. These emotions become generators of uncertainty, lack of self-confidence, and the breeding ground for doubts, fear, insecurity, pessimism, defeatism, loneliness, and depression.
Over the years, the accumulated design4all experience in executing ageFriendly projects in different domains led us to develop our own working methods. We learned how to research and understand diferent older adults' mental models. We acquired knowledge and understanding of how older adults user experience works in digital environments and platforms, their reactions to user interface components, how they perceive complexity, and how to address their conceptual world using visual content. How to present and deliver content and data and, above all, how to raise older adults self confidance and make digital life possible and pleasurable.
Older adults' digital technology adoption is much more than merely a usability question of larger fonts and better color contrast.
The age-friendly method