Research

When I started with this project I began with looking at the research which was done by the previous intern. Here I found a fragility indicator, which is a questionnaire developed to measure how fragile elderly are. These measurements are done within different categories: mobility, cognition, perception, weight loss, co-morbidity, social state and mental state. I started with researching what the biggest problems, causes and if possible solutions where within these categories. Here I learned that the biggest problems amongst elderly are immobility and loneliness.

After doing research into interests and activities of elderly I made 3 personas which could help me while generating new concepts. To generate new concepts I set up a brainstorm. Even though I did not use the personas during the brainstorm they did help me with identifying the problem for myself. From this I learned that I find it helpfull to visualize and summarize research information to have a clear overview for myself.

Brainstorm

The goal of the brainstorm was to create concepts on the following problems: How do we get elderly above the age of 75 who are at home a lot to move more and get out of the house? And how do we get elderly above the age of 75 who can not or do not want to get into contact with others to improve their social state?

During the brainstorm I used techniques which I learned from someone at my internship and I used the book “Tinkertoys” to search for techniques I could use.

The brainstorm began with some warming up exercises. After the warming up exercises a couple of new concepts where developed, although the main focus of the session shifted towards the question: What is loneliness exactly? This also led to a couple follow up questions. What are the needs of elderly and how do you know this? What causes what looking at loneliness and immobility? Is losing their routine the problem, and how can we help here? And lastly: What is the best way to stimulate elderly, a screen or physical objects?

Although these questions divert from the original goal of the brainstorm, I learned that in this case there was too little information to already start developing concrete concepts. Since these questions are important factors that came up as things we need to know before developing concepts and prototypes, I did more research to try and answer the questions.

Further research

After further research into papers and consulting an expert I came to the following conclusions:
Not immediately, although projects such as PARO do help elderly, this only works when these elderly have dementia. When looking at taking care of other people or pets do effect someone’s loneliness.
There are a number of different causes for loneliness or immobility. We can’t say that there is one main cause. Missing a purpose in live and missing motivation are stong indicators for these problems. Besides that a lot of the causes have to do with physical or mental health.
One way to stimulate elderly is through an embodied agent. After talking with a master student from Human Technology Interaction I learned that there are still difficulties when it comes to creating trust and companionship trough robots. This is because of the Uncanny valley theory, which states that when a robot looks to much like a human, but isn’t exactly like a human, the robot becomes creepy.

Questionnaire and Final Intervieuw

After the research I had a meeting with my internship supervisor. Here we discussed the outcomes of the research and what concepts we could try to work out. However we came to the conclusion that we need to know how we can stimulate elderly. Therefore I started making a questionnaire which would help us to get insight into the daily lives of an elderly and what their interests are.

This questionnaire I tested with my grandparents to see how clear it was. Here I noticed that the questions where to open and they had troubles with answering them. After this test I also discussed the questionnaire with my supervisor and my coach. My coach gave advice on considering making an interview instead of a questionnaire. This would enable you to ask more specific questions and get more valuable information on the interests of elderly.

With this feedback I started searching for studies or methods to ask elderly about their daily live. Here I came across the Activity Card Sort method. This method is used when for example an elderly had an accident. After or during rehabilitation a therapist could use activity cards to let the elderly sort out which cards they can do, and which cards they could only do before the accident. These cards have a lot of everyday activities on them, and therefore I used this information to make a list of activities that elderly could do. This list can be used during the interview, with some added questions such as: If you watch TV, which program did you watch the last time? And If you read books, what genre do you like? You can read the final intervieuw document here.