New initiative tackles older people’s needs

Designers must wake up to the ageing of the UK population, claims a new initiative by Help the Aged and the DesignAge project at the Royal College of Art.

DesignAge and Help the Aged are hoping the initiative will improve dialogue between older people and the design and marketing communities.

The year-long programme, starting with a seminar day in London on 5 April, plans to come up with new designs which meet the needs of the older generation, according to a Help the Aged spokesman.

The number of people over 75 has doubled to 4 million in Britain since 1961, and will double again in the next 50 years, resulting in a significant body of consumers with specific requirements and aspirations.

“It is high time people woke up to the fact that the demographic graph is changing,” says the spokesman, adding that in some sectors the marketplace is already beginning to take note of the older population.

Although the population is ageing, it is not getting healthier, and age-related diseases make the user-friendliness of goods and services vital, he adds.

A reference group of older people will attend the seminar and their ideas will be passed on to the design world. Other plans include asking design students to design products accessible to all users instead of ones specific to the older generation.

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