How might we design support for ageing so that people stay vital to their communities? This talk by Professor Ann Light features a study of living sociably, some repositioning of ageing technology research and new plans for investigating what digital tools might contribute.
Whilst there is now significant design research on assisted living and staying physically independent as we age, there is less work on designing the social aspects of our wellbeing, our emotional connections and how we value our neighbourhood as our relationship with it changes in later years. With diminishing opportunity for chance encounters, affected by the rise of online activity and the loss of local infrastructure such as community centres, shops and pubs, older people particularly face the potential to become cut off from the many activities that surround them. At the same time, we know that a chance to show efficacy enhances life and prolongs health, while approaches that encourage dependency exacerbate problems of social isolation.
Ann Light is Professor of Design and Creative Technology at the University of Sussex. She is a design researcher specializing in social change, social wellbeing and the politics of participation. She uses creative and qualitative methods, such as developing a participatory value chain to show ethical production, growing food to explore ecological sensibilities and working on environmental issues through participatory research with community groups. She leads the Creative Technology Group at Sussex and has collaborated with arts and grass-roots organizations and marginalized groups on five continents.