Care and Design

Care and Design

In the last century, the world population has been experiencing a demographic transformation to which great attention must be paid. If at the start of the 20th century, the number of people over the age of 65 was around 5% of the world population, by 2050 Earth will be populated by 4 million centenarians and more than 300 million octogenarians.

This trend is more evident in developed countries where values ​​are further accentuated due to better overall living conditions. In Europe, people over 65 make up 20.3% of the population. In Italy, that figure is 22.8% and will increase to 33.7% by 2045.

Reasons for this range from the progressive entry of baby boomers into their Golden Years, to the evolution of medicine, and even to a constant decrease in the fertility rate.

New strategies

Different organizational strategies by families and hospitals are needed to cope with this new demographic and these new social factors. We will have to rethink the concept of "the elderly," which will no longer be used to identify an individual aged 65 and older. In fact, higher levels of education and a different quality of life make today’s 65-year-olds comparable in terms of cognitive and physical performance to a person aged 40-45 just 30 years ago.

 From the point of physical parameters, it’s possible to divide the members of the so-called "Silver Economy" into three groups: active, fragile and non-self-sufficient. The latter are certainly the weakest, whose primary need is linked to health. The other two groups, on the other hand, have a series of needs which are more connected to the sphere of well-being. A segmentation by needs is, therefore, the best way to meet the needs of this large segment of the population.

The Silver Economy

The numbers of the Silver Economy make one think. About 740 million people over the age of 65, in fact, determine a market sector with an estimated value of $15 trillion, representing an exceptional opportunity for each sector. A varied range of innovative products, designed ad hoc, has the double advantage of creating value for a company and a better quality of life for all.

New high-tech tools are increasingly used to assist the elderly and promote their autonomy and sociality by keeping them inside their homes.

Home Automation improves the usability, the accessibility and the safety of homes, as well as helps connect people. In the United States, about 29% of the nearly 46 million seniors live alone at home, while in Italy this is as much as 40% of those aged over 75.

Silver-Friendly Design

In addition to technology installed inside furniture elements, the redesign of homes will also respond to new needs.

The implementation of projects to facilitate independence would also have a significant impact on national health systems. This is demonstrated with the “Scottish Telecare Program,” by way of example, as well as a positive economic impact in Italy based on systems capable of increasing self-diagnoses, personalization and the creation of a community of connected elderly people.

In addition to independence and attention to health, well-being in the broadest sense is also fundamental, especially in the category defined as active. It is necessary to intercept the needs of consumers in this new phase of life, in which they have more free time and probably more financial resources available, representing a very attractive target group for companies from different sectors.

The goal is to create products and services with a dedicated design defined as Silver-Friendly Design, which is comfortable, easy to understand and, above all, does not make the user feel "elderly." Five centuries after the Vitruvian Man, design promotes Human-centric Innovation by looking to the future for those within the Silver Generation. The latter leave operational spaces to new generations, but their wealth of experience and wisdom can still constitute a turning point and provide economic growth.

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