Design for pensioners

This morning I searched for my magnifying glass in order to read the instructions that came with a new medicine. Then I struggled for ten minutes to open the child-safe bottle.

This all seems ironic when pensioners must be the largest single group to consume medicines and many like me have poor eyesight and arthritic fingers.

Of course I am particularly annoyed when it is the pharmaceutical industry that makes life difficult for us. But they are not alone. Electronic gadgets, for example, are guilty not only of having ridiculous hard plastic casing which has to be virtually sawn off, but also instructions printed in minuscule typeface (typically 6 point) in five or six languages on long flimsy lengths of paper. Once again, I have to Look for a magnifying glass. (I have at least two waiting to come to the rescue, but inevitably they tend to congregate in the same place.)

Sometimes industry gets it right. I am very pleased with my collapsible, folding stick, though in an ideal world it would have some way to remain folded without having to use the bag that comes with it (which I always mislay).

But as well as all the instructions and bottles that should be made easier for older consumers to use, there are many other ways life could be made easier for pensioners. Granted my current obsession is perhaps a minority demand, but who knows, maybe there are lots of people who need the same product.

My recent trip to Barcelona taught me that I need to sit down regularly and that I cannot rely on the availability of seats when needed. So for next month’s trip to Fez in Morocco, I plan to carry a daypack with not only my camera and folding stick, but a folding stool. I have one, which I took to Italy three years ago. But it is heavy and cumbersome – not least because to close it I need to press firmly on three buttons with my arthritic fingers. I need something lighter.

What I want is a light (aluminium) folding stool which is easy to open and close and which packs down to a small space in my backpack. Most important of all, it must be at least 40 cm high.

I searched the internet and thought I had found one, but it is ‘currently unavailable’ and of questionable, unknown quality. Pity, because it meets my specification. It is extraordinary how many fishing and camping stools there are on the market, about 25 cm high, made for agile young people with knees that work.

Come on designers, make me my folding travel stool. OK, not for Morocco but for future trips – and for visits to galleries and museums..

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