Guest Blog: 5 Principles for Designing Delightful Digital Experiences for Seniors

1yob0vag9wywilhvdpp2ylqKaye Mao, a fourth-year student in the Interaction Design program is completing her independent thesis entitled ‘Exploratory use, and learning of, mobile touch-based technologies’ (title subject to change) with the Centre. She is interested in how we learn to use new technologies, specifically mobile touch screen technologies.

Kaye’s guest blog for this month, 5 Principles for Designing Delightful Digital Experiences for Seniors, discusses some of the barriers older adults experience when using new technology. She also shares five design principles from her research that guided her “in designing delightful digital experiences for seniors aged 60+”.

To read Kaye’s blog click on the link below:
5 Principles for Designing Delightful Digital Experiences for Seniors

 

Guest Blog: Aging-In-Place Assessment

homeBy Mary Jane Carroll

We need your help! Over the next few weeks students and faculty in the Bachelor of Interior Design program will be looking for community volunteers to participate in our “aging-in-place” study. If you are aged 50 or older and own your own home, and if you would prefer to stay in that home for as long as possible but are unsure of the type and cost of home modifications available to you, then please consider this opportunity!

The study is scheduled to begin this March. The goal is to provide older adult homeowners with a free in-home assessment by trained, qualified interior design students. These students will help you to understand the types of affordable, available options currently on the market to support your safety and comfort for the years ahead.

PLEASE NOTE: This is a research study, and should be regarded as such. Although we will provide cost estimates of potential home modifications the students will not be able to either sell any products or to provide any home renovation services to the homeowner. This is a study to raise awareness only.

Why in-home assessments? More than 80% of older adults surveyed in a recent CARP study indicated that they would prefer to stay in their own home for as long as possible. At the same time, many were unaware of the type and cost of home modifications necessary or available to support this goal. Our goal is to bring together local homeowners with qualified student researchers to help provide information on affordable, practical home modification solutions that will bridge this gap and encourage healthy aging in place.

Who can participate? Any older adult homeowners (condos, townhouses, single family homes) living in the Mississauga, Oakville, and Hamilton area with plans to remain in their current home for as long as possible.

What’s involved? Student researchers will be matched with participants to evaluate the aging-in-place readiness of your home. They will be using a custom checklist to identify potential problem areas in your home. In addition, and with your permission, they will take site measurements and photos to include in a report that will be provided to you after their visit.

Is it safe? All student groups are supervised and trained by the principal investigator, Professor Mary Jane Carroll.

Time involved? You can expect two visits from the teams. The first visit could last as long as two hours with students carefully working through the checklist and asking you a few questions. The second session will be shorter, when the results of the assessment are presented to you along with cost estimates for potential modifications. The assessment package is yours to keep free of charge!

Interested in participating? Please contact me, Professor Mary Jane Carroll, either via email at maryjane.carroll@sheridancollege.ca or by telephone at 905-510-4993.

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Mary Jane Carroll is a professor in the Bachelor of Interior Design program at Sheridan College. She developed a specialized post-diploma program at Sheridan called “Aging in Place Design Specialist”. Mary Jane was published in “Universal Design: Creating Inclusive Environments,” and has presented her papers on Universal Design in England and the USA.

Combating Social Isolation During the Holiday Season

imagesAs a previous Aging Matters blog discussed, the holiday season may be difficult for some older adults who are experiencing social isolation. There are many contributing factors that place an older adult at risk for loneliness and social isolation. According to the McMaster Aging Portal; “Older adults are at increased risk of being socially isolated or lonely. By the time people reach their 80s, the majority live on their own, mostly because of widowhood. This is particularly the case for older women who are more likely to be widowed than older men. Older people’s social networks often get smaller for other reasons as well – children may have moved away, along with grandchildren, and aging siblings and friends may have died. Loneliness is also prevalent among older adults. One in five Canadians aged 65 or older indicated that they felt lonely some of the time or often in a recent study. The proportion is even higher among those 85 years or older – 25% of individuals in that age bracket felt lonely some of the time or often. Living alone, health problems and disability, sensory impairment such as hearing loss, and major life events such as loss of a spouse have all been identified as risk factors for social isolation and loneliness.”

Fortunately, there are many community campaigns available worldwide to ensure that older adults are not alone during the holidays. One example is the Community Christmas project which believes that ‘no elderly person in the UK should be alone on Christmas Day unless they want to be’. The project provides resources and support for those who wish to provide companionship for older adults on Christmas Day.

Studies have shown that older adults who use technology feel less lonely. Technology provides individuals with the tools to communicate and engage with family and friends who may live far away. Social websites such as Chumbuggy.com strive to provide a ‘positive and safe community’ for older adults to engage with others.

The Centre for Elder Research wishes everyone a happy holiday season and all the best in the new year!

Guest Blog: Changing Patterns of Business Startups

By Adele Robertson

from-jane_4-2-oa140 years ago, the average life span in the Western world was 45 years old. In 2016, many Canadians can look forward to adding forty more years to that average. The question of leaving full time wage work at the typical “retirement” age of 65 is being scrutinized. 65 is the ‘new’ 75 or, even 80!

Today, even the word RETIRE is on the brink itself of being retired. The idea of a continued career, an encore career, finding other means of activity which generate income, is quickly being embraced by the boomer cohort. Why is this? Doesn’t the picture of the sunshine years, the endless golf games, and freedom 55 resonate with most people? Clearly not, should we believe many latest studies and, statistics.

One answer comes from a new book by Chris Farrell called “UNRETIREMENT, How Baby Boomers Are Changing the Way We Think About Work, Community and the Good Life”. Older people are starting businesses more than any other age group. The over 50’s often have a number of competitive advantages in the marketplace. Consider also the great lure of self employment; allowing for flexibility and control over your life…you are the boss!

There are myriad reasons for this economic and social turnabout. Obviously, one compelling factor is the wonderful health many enjoy. The US Center for Disease Control projects that the boomer group, (generally thought of as those born between 1948 and 1964), have an 84% average of “excellent health”. If you are healthy, why would you wish to settle down on the porch in the rocking chair?

The economic realities of the 21st Century translate into financial need for many individuals. They simply must continue to generate an income. 68% of Canadians will have no pension. Some individuals still have pensions that that income is insufficient to cover their normal and desired lifestyle. Even if there is not a pressing financial need, there is the reality of what to do with one’s time when your lifetime career ends. There are 2000 hours a year to fill when that job has ended. As well, changes in corporations often translate into downsizing leaving numerous people over 50 without a job.

Although Canadian statistics are quite difficult to isolate, the 2012 Stats Canada census determined that 49% of new Canadian businesses were started by people over the age of 50. Society is giving birth to a new phenomena: SENIORPRENEURISM. It is also known that this business demographic has doubled in recent years. When one realizes that small and medium business enterprises generate 97% of the economy, Seniorpreneurs are certainly a force to be reckoned with.

“A greater number of older workers may be self-employed in the future because the baby boomers will reach retirement with considerably more wealth and education than prior cohorts:, writes Rand Corporation economists. A Kauffmann Foundation report provides additional rationale for the rise in seniorpreneuers. Quite simply, older workers have skills, wisdom, experience, credibility, and key to many endeavours, they have developed superb networks. The various new technologies, notably the Internet and small business software, lower start up costs considerable. As well, those experienced workers desire to continue employment but they demand greater autonomy and flexibility. All of this can be obtained when you launch your own business.

Many individuals will relish the idea of an encore career which is self driven. At the same time, a cautionary tale suggests that older workers understand their motivations, their values and, their ability to absorb risk. Those risk avoidance individuals would be wise not to invest all their savings in a new venture, at an older age.

It is exciting that so many former seniors are retiring the world retire as they embark on often unique and innovative roles in their third life stage.

The Sheridan Centre for Elder Research is in an ideal position to be both a sounding board for would be seniorpreneuers and possibly, a physical and digital hub for cross current exchanges and programmes. We are currently, with the help of Sheridan student, Luisa Cardoza, carrying out preliminary research on the state of Canadian olderpreneurs. It is clear there is a vacuum in data and comprehensive research on the state of this activity in Canada. Much, much more is required to determine next steps. It is clear that substantial studies are in order and we plan to do just that in the near future.

____________________________________________________________________________ Adele Robertson is the CEO and Founder of V Generation and a Sheridan Centre for Elder Research advisory board member.