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Business leaders experience a day in the life of the elderly

4 July 2012

On Thursday June 28th, an experiment led by Age UK and partly hosted by UCL enabled a group of senior businesspeople to experience first-hand what life is like for elderly customers.

Female participant in Age UK experiment in UCL cluster room

Wearing an assortment of debilitating items, from leg weights and ear plugs to sight-distorting goggles and rubber gloves, participants in the 'Through Their Eyes' experiment carried out a series of tasks designed to show them what life can be like for older people.

Participants in Age UK experiment in UCL cluster room

The group, which included representatives from Tesco and RBS among others, was asked to open packets whilst attached to Parkinsons-simulating machines which made their hands shake uncontrollably, book a holiday online while unable to see the screen clearly, and walk from Age UK’s offices to UCL wearing leg weights, ear plugs and sight-distorting spectacles. The computer-based tasks were carried out in UCL’s cluster room at Foster Court.

Ian Rutter, Senior Manager in Age UK’s Engage Business Network, said: “Elderly people in the UK have significant spending power and yet the majority of British businesses have not designed their stores, websites or products with these customers in mind. The tasks in this experiment aim to highlight what everyday life is like for many older people.

Participant in Age UK experiment in UCL cluster room

“Research has shown that just one negative experience of a company or product will result in the consumer not returning or buying the product again. This is particularly pertinent in the current economic climate, and we are trying to show businesses that making things easier for their older customers would be beneficial to everyone.”

Michele Farmer, UCL's Disability IT Support Analyst, helped to organise the day. She said: "I enjoyed working with Age UK on the ‘Through Their Eyes’ event and I’m glad it went smoothly and was a success. It was interesting to learn more about the valuable services Age UK provides and, after speaking to some of the staff who work there, I believe we have a common ground and I hope for and look forward to further collaboration in the future."

Page last modified on 04 jul 12 12:33

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