Product Design for Elderly

Product and service design for older people

As the years have passed, how many times have you muttered expletives about the design of some ordinary, everyday item that has no regard for the older user?  How on earth are you meant to be able to read that label or open that package? Why do things need to have SO much packaging anyway? Why can’t remote controls have bigger buttons and fewer of them?

Why is it so hard to go back to where you were on a website after you have clicked on a link?  Do online banking time-out functions need to be so damned short? Whatever happened to instruction manuals? Why can’t you get grab rails and bathroom supports that look good?  Do nail scissors have to have such small finger holes?

Under a proposal that COTA South Australia has pitched to the State Government, South Australia could become the nation’s testing ground for improved aged care products and services, designed to better meet the needs of the over 60s.

A Living Laboratory

The “Living Laboratories” proposal – one of 18 proposals COTA has put to the SA State government to improve the health, housing and employment options for older people – recommends providing seed funding for an initiative that would see South Australia become the hub for a new centre of excellence to identify, design and test new products and services for national and international markets.  All in partnership with older people.

The story made the front page of the Adelaide Advertiser

The report says everyday products and services often fail to meet the specific needs of older people, despite their significant buying power.

“They continually encounter fundamental errors in assumptions about them as a market and many would be happy to help design products and services which more appropriately suit their needs,” it says.

COTA SA has recommended that seed funding be provided for “a partnership to design and establish a specialised ageing co-design environment, capable of supporting the identification, iteration and testing of services and products for Australian and international markets.”

The partnership would involve a group of older people who are partners in the research and innovation process, not just subjects.  A number of universities have already expressed interest in the project. While the concept is yet to be fully developed, it is envisaged that it would include a strong educational element for older people and testimonials from people who have tested the products.

What new products or services would you like to see developed?  What products or services would you like to see changed to better meet the needs?

You can read the full list of recommendations proposed by COTA SA to the SA state government on this link.

Popular Articles

View All Articles
Article Img
What makes a great retirement village manager?

As anyone who lives in a retirement village will tell you, the village manager is a central figure who is critical to the success of the village and the happiness and wellbeing of village residents. But there’s no doubt the village manager plays an essential role. So, what is the role of a retirement village manager?

Article Img
Retirement villages without exit fees? They’re happening!

Retirement villages without exit fees? They’re happening! Now, some of Australia’s largest retirement village operators are looking at new ways to pay for retirement villages that don’t include exit fees – indeed, there are calls for some exit fees to be banned.

Article Img
What sort of profits do retirement village owners make?

The number of Australians over the age of 75 is expected to increase by 70% over the next six years. The number of Australians over the age of 80 is expected to triple to more than 3.5 million over the next 40 years. As the number of older people in Australia surges, so too does demand for age-appropriate housing – such as retirement villages, which offer an affordable lifestyle, community, and ongoing health and wellness support.

Article Img
73% of Australians willing to sacrifice inheritance for aged care

Nearly three-quarters of all Australians are willing to sacrifice their own inheritance so their parents and grandparents can enjoy the retirement they deserve, according to a new report by B2B aged care service CompliSpace.

Article Img
Volunteers are the backbone of the aged care sector, and more are needed

Tens of thousands of people, of all ages, such as 90-year-old Lily Burns and 20-year-old Charlise Hannagan, volunteer in aged care homes. The Change Makers is the theme for this year’s National Volunteer Week, 15 to 21st May, which celebrates the vital work of volunteers.

A special thanks to our contributors

Caroline Egan

DCM Media, agedcare101

Caroline has a wealth of experience writing within the retirement and aged care sector and is a contributing journalist for the and agedcare101 blog and accompanying newsletters.

Ian Horswill


Ian is a journalist, writer and sub-editor for the aged care sector, working at The DCM Group. He writes for The Weekly Source, agedcare101, and the DCM Institute fortnightly newsletter Friday. Ian is in daily contact with CEOs of retirement living, land lease and the aged care operations and makes a new contact every week. He investigates media releases, LinkedIn and Facebook for a good source for ideas for stories.

Lauren Broomham

Retirement and Aged Care Journalist

Lauren is a journalist for, agedcare101 and The Donaldson Sisters. Growing up in a big family in small town communities, she has always had a love for the written word, joining her local library at the age of six months. With over eight years' experience in writing and editing, she is a keen follower of news and current affairs with a nose for a good story.

Jill Donaldson


Jill has been practicing as a clinical physiotherapist for 30 years. For the last 13 years she has worked solely in the Aged Care sector in more than 50 metropolitan and regional facilities. Jill has also toured care facilities in the US and Africa and is a passionate advocate for both the residents in aged care and the staff who care for them. She researches and writes for DCM Media.

Chris Baynes

DCM Media, agedcare101

Chris has been a journalist and publisher in the retirement village and aged care sectors for 11 years. He has visited over 250 retirement villages and 50 aged care facilities both within Australia and internationally. Chris is a regular speaker at industry conferences plus is a frequent radio commentator.

Annie Donaldson

Nurse and Carer

Annie has a long career in both nursing and the media. She has planned and co-ordinated the medical support from both international TV productions and major stadium events. In recent years she has been a primary family carer plus involved in structured carer support.