Aging Suit: An Accessible and Low-Cost Design Tool for the Gerontodesign

Aging Suit: An Accessible and Low-Cost Design Tool for the Gerontodesign

Annika Maya Rivero
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5234-5.ch004
(Individual Chapters)
No Current Special Offers


The population pyramid is being inverted and the designers are facing challenges in the way they design products, spaces, and services for elder people. Although the design is composed of both cultural and social aspects, the functional aspect takes relevance for autonomy and empowerment of the person that gets older. To design products centered on the physical capacities of the elder population, the aging suit has being used as a tool for the gerontodesign. In countries like Mexico, its application is limited by the manufacturing cost. For this reason, as part of a design methodology for elder people, a low-cost suit was developed focus on the design students and professionals located in Latin America.
Chapter Preview


The global aging of the population is a reality that has been glimpsed since some years ago. The main issue is not that the world has more elders than children, but the world is transforming, because as life expectancy increases, it is much more likely that grand grandfathers, grandfathers and parents live together, not necessarily in the same house. In fact, in some European countries, more than 40% women over 65 years old are currently living alone. In Denmark, is 55.1% (CSO, 2007:21) of women over 65. Global aging covers a diverse series of problems that are of the competence of every human being, regardless we are interested or not in aging processes. According to the global report about aging and health (Beard et al., 2015) aging and health needs to be addressed because several reasons: the first one belongs to human rights promotion, the second is to promote the sustainable development and the third one obeys the economic aspect.

Mexico is a country that counts with a population that exceeds 112 million people. Of them, a little more than 10 million has more than 60 years, this, based on the national population and housing census, carried out by the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (2010b:3). According with the recent inter-census survey of the same institution (INEGI, 2010b:35), is estimated that the population has increased to almost 120 million. Therefore, the number of elderly people has also increased. In Mexico 30% of older adults in Mexico are economically active (INEGI, 2010b: 132) but the reality observed in supermarkets where people over 60 can be seen as “volunteer packer”, a work promoted by the National Institute of Older Adults (INAPAM, 2016) reflects that older people in Mexico perform tasks that require efforts that most of the adult population cannot perform efficiently. Voluntary packers require stand up for extended periods of time, in addition to having fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. It is important to avoid that older people perform tasks that demand beyond their functional capacities. In order to promote older adults in tasks according to their functional capacities, it is necessary to have empathy towards the situation that many of them present.

To design a safe and inclusive environment that promotes a healthy performance of any activity, whether work or recreation, it is necessary to understand which capacities both functional and of various kinds an older adult person own. Just as the volunteer packers, we can observe in our day to day adults performing tasks that require physical skills such as gardening, blacksmithing, bakery, among many others. The environment is becoming a problem for people who remain economically active, but also for those who have a high degree of dependence, the older adults who require special care. The experience of aging may necessitate transitions in living environments, either through adaptations to current residences or through relocations to more supportive environments (Perry, Andersen & Kaplan, 2014: 75).

As a general objective of this chapter is to deepen the use that has been given to a design tool for older adults or gerontodesign, as well as to know how the aging suit has been applied in different places, a tropicalized proposal is made to the Mexican context, in order to reduce the costs of this tool as well as not only make it accessible to professionals and students of industrial design, architecture and other disciplines where the development of product and spaces is the objective, but to any individual who has to coexist, decide and propose some program, service or product for older adults.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Gerontodesign: Conceptualized as the design for the elderly population. Is a term initiated by social anthropology. The union between gerontology and design.

Accessibility: The concept of accessible design, the ability to access and to use services, spaces, or products.

Environmental Gerontology: Gerontology area whose goal is to analyze and modify the relationship between the elderly and their social and physical environment.

Transdisciplinary: Cross disciplines. Cross the boundaries of two or more disciplines.

Empathy: Understand the needs, feelings, emotions, and thoughts about a special topic or situation.

Elderly: Older adults are those who exceed the life expectancy of their own countries. In Mexico, the life expectancy is about 76 years old.

Environmental Psychology: Study the interrelationships between people and their physical surroundings (natural and built environments).

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: