The Design Museum explores the future of ageing

London’s Design Museum has curated an exhibition this summer that looks at old age from a different perspective. The Future of Ageing show aims to explore the ways in which society can support the elderly with “greater agency and joy”.

Running until September 11th at the Royal College of Art, the exhibition emphasises the way design choices will be able to help overcome issues associated with ageing in the coming years and decades. It’s a timely reminder that society is set to be made up of more older people than young in future.

Colum Lowe, director at the Design Age Institute, said: “The Future of Ageing display allows us to demonstrate how design and innovation can transform our homes, workplaces, cities and neighbourhoods to support us as we age.

“Getting older is not a singular story of decline, loneliness and hardship – it also includes wisdom, maturity, confidence, abundance and adventure. The venue, scheduling, content and display design will open up this dialogue to new audiences who possibly haven’t considered the challenges and joys of later life.”

The life expectancy of a person born today is said to be approximately 104 and by 2040, more than a quarter of the UK’s population will be over 60. While these figures will stun many, it’s thought older people will spend 20 per cent less on healthcare, focusing on recreation and travel instead.

Those visiting the showcase can expect to find research, sketches and prototypes relating to six different design projects. They have been completed by the Design Age Institute and a selection of partners to show how an ageing population might rely on technology going forward.

Among the exhibits is the Centaur - a two-wheeled personal electric vehicle that balances on its own. The device aims to take the stigma out of supported mobility, which is currently a relatively closed market.

Another display shows a hands-free cargo-carrying robot called Gita that has been created by the design team behind the Vespa scooter. Such technology moves away from the traditional approach to ageing and offers a sense of excitement.

There’s also two specially commissioned films being shown as part of the exhibition - Designing For Joy and We Are All Ageing - which run for two minutes each. The latter depicts five individuals growing older with a happy and healthy mindset.

An immersive digital audioscape can be experienced at the Future of Ageing show. Hearing Birdsong is an app that’s been developed to spot early signs of hearing loss through an enjoyable experience in a person’s own home. Using the sounds of native species, it aims to engage individuals in their own hearing health without the stigma of going for a check-up.

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