Declining mortality rates mean higher life expectancies globally. Between 2000 and 2050 the number of people aged over 65 in the UK is anticipated to double (ILC 2023) and in-spite of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, one in four children born today can expect to live to be 100 (Whitty 2023). The recent white paper (ILC 2023) and the Chief Medical Officers Report, Health in an Ageing Society (2023) both emphasise the need for innovation and the importance of challenging the assumption ‘that clunky functionality is all that can be expected in later life’ (Whitty, 2023).
A body of work funded by Research England has explored the role of design in challenging existing preconceptions of ageing. Within this research theme you can read about how film, writing and photography have given older people a voice to express their concerns and priorities and to challenge existing stereotypes around ageing (see re-imagining ageing).
Of course, ageing is not just about old being older – the 100 year life extends from birth to death and this body of work gives equal emphasis to the role of design in meeting the needs of people throughout the life-course. This includes individuals and their families managing the impact of dementia (see Journeying Through Dementia and Connecting People, Connecting Support) and to those facing end of life (see When Seasons Change)
The studies contained within this theme are united in their focus of the central role that design can play in ensuring that individuals experience of ageing is as healthy and meaningful as possible.
Novel Empowering Solutions and Technologies for Older people to Retain Everyday life activities. This research aims to co-design a multi-dimensional, cross-disciplinary and personalised coaching system. Leveraging ICT social connectivity, NESTORE will support older people to sustain independence. The system will operate through tangible objects as well as software and apps.
Read more >>
A design artefact that explores concepts of ongoingness in the context of dementia. The piece explores the relationship between a granddaughter and her grandparents through capturing and curating digital media now for the future, offering ways for her to feel a sense of her grandparents in particular places.