The Wall Street Journal’s Sara Lin recently reported on the Aging in Place phenomenon, and how it’s driving innovation in home appliances and other areas. “Aging in place” is the catch-all phrase for baby boomers that are planning to remain in their home as they age, as opposed to assisted living and nursing homes.
According to Lin, these innovations include stoves that monitor pots to prevent them from boiling over and appliance control panels with adjustable typefaces. The race to invent senior-friendly designs has prompted researchers at General Electric Co. to plug their ears with cotton to simulate hearing loss and don goggles that blur their vision during product testing.
The paper says redesigning products for aging consumers seems to make good business sense. There are 78 million U.S. baby boomers, and roughly one-third will be 62 years old or older by 2013, says AARP. Unlike their parents, who often moved into retirement communities or assisted-living centers, most boomers plan to remain in their own homes, according to the Journal. In recent years, the Aging in Place phenomenon has triggered home renovations and new construction. Now, the technology behind home appliances and fixtures is catching up. Controls are being revamped to be easier to operate for arthritic hands as well as minds that aren’t as sharp as they once were. And safety is taking a higher priority.