Staying active, keeping in touch and maintaining a passion for life are essential aspects of life for over-65s, according to surveys carried out on behalf of Centaur Robotics.
And while many accept a decline in their mobility could impact on that goal, this section of the population is ever-curious about the world, wants to keep up with technology and have friends of all ages.
This group is a key set of customers for Centaur Robotics, the company behind the revolutionary self-balancing Centaur, which is designed to help those with mobility needs lead a life with no limits. The design-winning personal electric vehicle is weighing into an expanding global market valued at $12billion.
‘No’ to wheelchairs
Researchers from the Design Age Institute identified that people of this age are dissatisfied with existing options to keep them on the move.
The majority of over-65s have experienced a change in their mobility in the past 10 years, But they steer clear of wheelchairs and walking sticks because they are associated with frailty.
“There’s no doubt my legs are not what they used to be,” a 79-year-old woman told them. “I find footpaths unsafe. They are very awkward on your feet.”
The research revealed that for some, the world is getting smaller because they’ve lost their confidence to walk as far they have in the past.
The Centaur… ‘essential’
The 79-year-old does not need the Centaur right now. She said she would have used it briefly during a “wobbly time” in her past. Staying active was crucial.
“Five years ago I had two knee replacements,” she continued. “Since that time my walking has been far better.”
But she’s aware that life is changing and that the Centaur will become more useful – and eventually essential.
She also recognised that although art galleries and museums were more inaccessible, there was no need to lose her passion for culture.
Inspired by real life
“The thing I find difficult is to stand. I love going to the big galleries in London, but the modern ones especially, well, they don’t have benches. But I don’t care. If I need to sit down, I sit down.”
Centaur designer Paul Campbell was inspired by the problems he had taking his elderly father out to restaurants in a wheelchair.
He told Design Week many of the Centaur’s features “just fell into place”. One such feature is the Centaur’s ability to fit under a dining table.
“When I would have my dad round for dinner or take him out to a restaurant, it was always a fuss to move chairs and furniture to accommodate his wheelchair and he’d feel like he was imposing,” said Paul.
Pride and self-respect
Image and self-esteem are crucial for this group of users, which is on the look-out for more attractive mobility options. One 86-year-old man was keen to replace his old-fashioned mobility aids.
“I have two canes,” he said. “They’re so ugly and I always lose them.”
The Centaur attracts a different kind of user than someone happy with mobility scooters, which are poorly designed, cumbersome and carry a social stigma.
Anyone opting for the Centaur is clearly someone with a sense of pride and self-respect. The typical Centaur rider fights the ageing process, unlike the mobility scooter user who told researchers: “I can walk – I just don’t want to!”
Fortunately, most of the respondents also believed it was important to keep active, despite reduced mobility.
The government is keen to support people in this group as it recognises the importance to society of them living longer and healthier in the community. The global market for personal electric vehicles is expected to exceed US$12billion by 2027.