Global Centre for Modern Ageing partners with Jane Caro on a new report revealing businesses are letting down older Australians

Global Centre for Modern Ageing partners with Jane Caro on a new report revealing businesses are letting down older Australians

Australia is experiencing a huge demographic shift, with the number of Australians aged 65 and over expected to increase from 3.7 million in 2016, to more than 10 million by 2066. In response, the Global Centre for Modern Ageing (GCMA) has released a groundbreaking new report, Empowering Older Adults with Better Product Usability.

This report surveyed more than 1000 Australians aged 65 and over and marks a pivotal step towards enhancing the quality of life for Australia’s ageing population. In collaboration with celebrated Australian columnist, author and social commentator, Jane Caro, the GCMA aims to highlight the challenges faced by older adults and spearhead advancements in product usability.

The GCMA CEO Julianne Parkinson (pictured top) said, “It’s about recognising and responding to the evolving needs and preferences of older adults, many of whom are living longer and differently.”

“Importantly, it extends well beyond older adults alone. It presents an opportunity for product design to be more inclusive, being mindful of the diverse needs, preferences and circumstances of individuals that continue to change throughout their lives,” said Parkinson.

The findings of the GCMA report revealed that older Australians are being seriously let down. 93% of respondents affirm that product usability is crucial for independent living, yet a majority express dissatisfaction with the user-friendliness of products designed for older adults. Approximately 81% feel neglected by product designers and manufacturers, citing small fonts, grip issues, tough packaging and confusing instructions as key barriers.

Despite encountering usability barriers, nearly half (43%) of older Australians do not seek help or request product adaptations when faced with dissatisfaction. 74% of participants express a desire for age-friendliness information on products, to help with more informed purchasing decisions.

Parkinson revealed that while there’s a wide array of products available in the market, there’s a large discrepancy between the industry’s belief that products are user-friendly and the actual usability challenges faced by older Australians every day.

“This represents a great opportunity for product developers to better understand these consumers and close the gap on usability frustrations, and enhance satisfaction,” said Parkinson.

Parkinson and the team at the GCMA said they “envision a future where these requirements drive market innovation, leading to products that enrich the lives of older Australians, and ensure business success.”

As an older adult, Jane Caro (pictured above) voiced her own personal frustrations with the lack of usable products for older Australians, “So many products, so many of them frustrating, impenetrable and hard to use.”

“Instructions are often impossible to read and indecipherable when you can. Packaging seems to be designed to keep you out. I can no longer undo jars, bottles, boxes, medicines, tubes and containers,” said Caro.

Caro believes that while many older Australians have money to spend and time to shop,  they are rapidly losing the inclination. “It’s ageism rearing its ugly, wrinkly, head again. We ignore the old and think of them as deficient. We are not. We are just struggling to use poorly and insensitively designed products,” said Caro.

Caro calls for a concerted effort to better support the country’s rapidly ageing demographic and encourages people to come forward and join the GCMA Co-Designer communities, empowering older people to live independent lives.

Both Caro and Parkinson believe the Empowering Older Adults with Better Product Usability report marks a crucial step towards understanding and addressing the usability challenges faced by older Australians. It calls for a collective effort from designers, manufacturers and policymakers to foster an inclusive and age-friendly product landscape.