Technology means different things for different people. That means that we need a lot more user involvement in the development of technologies for elderly. However, most technologies are developed by people in a different age bracket than the elderly people they are meant for. In the video below you see an advertisement where a company tries to sell an advanced alarm button with video to their elderly customers. Look at 40″ how horribly ugly that alarm button is.
My grandmother had such a button but almost never wore it since she would not be caught dead with such an ugly accessory (even at 93 and still a bit vain). Research shows that more than 50%(*) of the people that have such an alarm often do not wear the button because the feel stigmatized by wearing it.
These companies spend lots of money on the development of software and hardware but almost never ask their customers what is it exactly that they want and what it should look like. I am even convinced there is a market for “designer alarm buttons”.
Question is how to involve them in a way that can show what technology does and how it can help them, in stead of leaving them with incomprehensible technologies. But that will be discussed in one of the next postings.
(*) Porter, E.J. (2005). Wearing and using personal emergency respone system buttons. Journal of Gerontological Nursing, 31(10), 26-31.