Products designed for older people reinforce a bogus image of them as passive and feeble.
The MIT AgeLab, which I head, has homed in on one such paradox in particular: the profound mismatch between products built for older people and the products they actually want. To give just a few examples, only 20% of people who could benefit from hearing aids seek them out. Just 2% of those over 65 seek out personal emergency response technologies—the sorts of wearable devices that can call 911 with the push of a button—and many (perhaps even most) of those who do have them refuse to press the call button even after suffering a serious fall. History gives us many examples of such failed products, from age-friendly cars to blended foods to oversize cell phones.
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