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Aging in Place:. Exploring ‘place’ to design better products and services. Alice Ro Lillian Shieh 24 October 2006. NEST’s approach to understanding an issue. Emerging technologies, materials, & markets Home and other sectors. Social & cultural context

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Aging in place l.jpg

Aging in Place:

Exploring ‘place’

to design better products and services

Alice Ro

Lillian Shieh

24 October 2006


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NEST’s approach to understanding an issue

Emerging technologies, materials, & markets

Home and other sectors

Social & cultural context

Definitions of home, how it’s changing

Context of the home

Physical spaces and artifacts

People

People’s behaviors, emotions, motivations, perceptions, and values in and around the home

Exploring “place” to design better products and services


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Our work with baby boomers and aging

NEST is currently doing long-term research about baby boomer healthcare trends and needs

Why boomers?

  • they have a different view of aging

  • more information is available to them, particularly through the internet

  • they are more “proactive” towards healthcare

  • escalating costs have shifted more healthcare tasks to the patient

Exploring “place” to design better products and services


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Our work with baby boomers and aging

Younger female baby boomers are an area of particular interest:

  • The number of aging people who are single is increasing dramatically, and of those, the majority are women

  • Women are often the health managers for their families

  • This “sandwich” generation cares for kids at home AND aged parents

Exploring “place” to design better products and services


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What does “aging in place” mean today?

Remaining in one’s home as one ages?

This presentation explores the experience of aging through the lens of “place.”

Exploring “place” to design better products and services


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Case study: Sarah moves house

Moving house highlights the process of transforming “space” into “place”

We worked with Sarah, one of the women in our study, to learn about her experience of moving and place.

Exploring “place” to design better products and services


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Meet Sarah

  • 54 year-old baby boomer

  • Vital career as a scientist

  • Started several successful companies

  • Avid reader

  • Has a lot of friends

  • Active in community

  • Recently lost her father

  • Health concerns are memory loss, overall fitness, and back pain

Exploring “place” to design better products and services


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Case study: Sarah moves house

Separating from husband of 30 years

Moving from Brooklyn brownstone where she has lived for 23 years

Youngest of her 3 sons will live with her part-time

Exploring “place” to design better products and services


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Where to live?

The family farm in Nebraska?

  • Sarah loves the farm, but it’s far for friends to visit

    A full-service apartment building in Manhattan?

  • Life would be easier, but could be disruptive to her youngest son, who is in his last year of high school

    Final decision:

  • Sarah chose a home in the same neighborhood, with a one-year lease

Exploring “place” to design better products and services


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Criteria for a home

  • Spacious

  • Attractive to her sons

  • Able to accommodate house guests

  • Space for office

  • Places for exercise machines (treadmill and rowing machine)

  • Open plan, “so people don’t feel cut off from each other”

Exploring “place” to design better products and services


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Arranging a home

  • Resulting features:

    • The dining room is turned into a family room

    • Part of the living room is turned into a dining area

    • Multiple sleeping areas for house guests

    • Exercise machine in family room with a sightline to the TV

Exploring “place” to design better products and services


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Choosing what to bring from her old place . . .

Sarah wanted to…

  • Make a fresh start

  • Bring things that she loved

  • Keep items that embody family history

  • Reduce overall possessions so her sons wouldn’t be overwhelmed after her death

Exploring “place” to design better products and services


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. . . and what to leave behind

Sarah didn’t want to. . .

  • “Destroy that entity” (her old house) by taking key objects or too much stuff

  • Sarah couldn’t finish sorting her things in time for the move, so she brought boxes of unsorted stuff to her new house with the intent of continuing to sort it

Exploring “place” to design better products and services


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Choosing what to acquire

Furniture and design offer a contrast with Sarah’s previous Victorian-style home

  • Paring her belongings frees Sarah from burdens that her old stuff represented

  • A minimalist whiteboard for posting photos of family and friends

  • Comfortable lounge chairs for reading

  • Things that would make her sons want to spend time at her place: e.g., flat screen TVs

  • Furnishings to help her stay organized

Exploring “place” to design better products and services


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Creating “place:” what we learned

Sarah successfully created a sense of “place” by. . .

  • Carving out nooks to create space for intimate conversations while preserving a feeling of openness

  • Designing spaces for different types of entertaining to encourage friends and family to visit

  • Bringing key artifacts from her old home, especially those reflecting Sarah’s family history and her interest in science

  • Designating a poetry corner that enables her to enjoy a frivolous activity and focus on herself

  • Acknowledging her changing stage in life in the look of the new home

Exploring “place” to design better products and services


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Creating “place:” physical space

self

residence

artifacts

neighborhood

municipality

Exploring “place” to design better products and services


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Creating “place:” social space

self

nuclear family

extended family

friends

work

community services

community acquaintances

Exploring “place” to design better products and services


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Creating “place:” home

self

artifacts

neighborhood

municipality

Home is at the intersection of one’s physical place and social place

Exploring “place” to design better products and services


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Why is this important?

Although this deconstruction of Sarah’s experience is deceptively simple, the end result is a set of principles for designing new products - for Sarah and many others with similar experiences and needs

Exploring “place” to design better products and services


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Key design principles

  • Choosing and creating spaces to enhance social connection

  • Push v. pull: surfacing significant artifacts

    • For personalizing space and representing the self

    • For maximizing ease

  • Culling treasures to imbue possessions with value for the next generation

  • Meeting change by looking forward

Exploring “place” to design better products and services


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Creating “place” through social connection

Space design facilitates connection by offering Sarah different ways to engage with friends and family:

  • Small nooks and hideaways enable cozy escape or intimate gatherings

  • Re-purposing rooms enhances the feeling of connectedness throughout house

  • Easily configurable furniture yields medium and large open spaces that enable entertaining

  • Desks strategically placed with view of televisions encourage sons to hang out or do homework

Exploring “place” to design better products and services


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Creating “place” through social connection

Even seemingly minor relationships can be important to one’s sense of community, but social networks aren’t always portable, despite recent advances in electronic communications

Homes of older people should minimize social disruption as much as possible.

Exploring “place” to design better products and services


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Push v. pull: surfacing significant artifacts

Furnishings and services can eliminate the problem of “out of sight, out of mind.” Belongings and information that are more visible decrease hassles and things to remember...

Existing products and services:

  • Unified message dashboards don’t require people to remember to check messages on multiple devices

  • Calendars that actively remind you

  • Caller ID with photos

  • Systems like elfa and California Closets

  • Delivery: Fresh Direct, laundry, etc.

  • Catalog and internet interfaces designed for easy readability and navigability

Exploring “place” to design better products and services


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Culling treasures

Aging people often want to maintain emotional connections with a lifetime of possessions, yet they also want to be free of the responsibilities that come with possessions. Downsizing after kids go to college is a common phenomenon.

Existing products and services:

  • Organization specialists

  • Closet and storage systems that display and help celebrate one’s history and belongings

  • Physical scrapbooks, journals, frames, and displays

  • Super-easy digital albums

Exploring “place” to design better products and services


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Meeting change by looking forward

Products and services aimed at a general market don’t stigmatize older users. In particular, people more readily adopt products that connote luxury and status, and not decline

Existing products and services:

  • Cruise ship living with all ages

  • Full-service buildings with doormen who can carry packages, supers who can fix things, etc.

  • Spa bathrooms with temperature memory, etc.

  • Cars with night mirrors, cameras on back or cars, auto parallel parking

Exploring “place” to design better products and services


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Balancing change with continuity

Sarah’s choices and decisions were marked by looking forward and embracing change…and desiring continuity and a sense of history

Successful designs for baby boomers depend on a sensitive balance between conflicting desires for change and continuity

Exploring “place” to design better products and services


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Questions?

Exploring “place” to design better products and services



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