The Elderly and Technology: How to Make It Inclusive
Right behind China, South Korea, and Japan, Singapore is rapidly becoming the techno hub of Asia. Information systems, point of sales options, artificial intelligence, and self-service kiosks are quickly becoming the norm. Leaps in the advancement of technology no longer surprise consumers. The presence of such improvements has become part of daily life, where people demand more instead of being surprised by less.
At least, this is the case among the youth and Generation X. For Baby Boomers and those older than them, there are more problems to encounter. Many feel that these advancements in technology are leaving them behind, excluding them, and making them feel alienated. After all, most of them are not as technologically literate as the young. It is a form of ageism to move forward without considering those who paved the way to make our lives easier. One day, we will be old, and our technologies will be considered defunct. Would we want to be left out?
Here are ways to make kiosks and self-service machines elderly-friendly.
Keep a simple interface. The layout should be clean and simple, with lots of space and large fonts. The buttons should be big, bigger than the tip of an adult’s index finger. Make sure the instructions are clear and easy to follow. If it cannot be done in less than five steps, something is wrong. Be quick, concise, and straightforward.
Also, do not add unnecessary updates. Focus on the bare essentials and build upon them. The elderly are more inclined to simplicity and convenience than choice and novelty. When you update the program, make sure that the instructions are updated but still as clear as before. Changes in the layout may make things more confusing for those who did not grow up with such technology if not done correctly.
Affordability is another issue. Growing up during times of depression and war, those from the older generations have habits that they have carried to adulthood. More than anything else, they know what to spend on. That is why they buy a lot of things because they were raised in a time when resources were scarce and certain goods come and go once in a blue moon. Baby Boomers are slightly different as they grew up in a time of prosperity, but they also tend to be traditionalists, meaning that they value efficiency before anything else.
Aside from keeping things simple, cut down unnecessary costs. Focus on why the products and services are essential, not merely added value. Make them feel as if they are getting things that they cannot live without. They won’t be interested in accessories.
Nobody likes to be reminded of old age and mortality. Do not advertise your service as “elderly-friendly” or a similar tagging. Instead, make your elderly consumers feel welcome and accepted. Focus on including them in your demographics. Not only will this make them feel that they are still part of a technologically advancing society, but it will also be eye-catching to the younger generations who are inclined to make the world an equal place for everyone. Such things can bind people of different ages together, instead of pronouncing their gaps.
Simplicity, affordability, and inclusivity are essential to all generations, but our elders see their value more quickly than we do. One day, we will be able to see what they see. Until then, we can learn a lot from them. Instead of expecting them to adjust to our technologies, we must learn to adapt these improvements to even the ground for everyone.