43 Year Old Moves Into A Retirement Community

We frequently use the IDEO Method Cards to inspire our curiosity and to refresh our insights in order to bring readers innovative ideas to thrive at home, connect to community and fortify personal independence.


We discovered an excellent example of two user-insight methods put into practice, Try It Yourself and Rapid Ethnography, by Steve Gurney, who at the age of 43 moved into a senior living community to experience the transition into, and the daily life in a retirement community. Even though we would expect, as the publisher of the Sourcebook, a guide to help seniors and their families make important housing decisions, he would have enough insight already. But in order to gain first hand experience, and to better inform his work with families he immersed himself in the experience of the products and services of a retirement community.


Steve Gurney documented his experience at his blog, Everyone is Aging, which also includes video diary entries.

What would it look like if we spent more time using the products or services we are designing, selling, and marketing.  This is an especially important question if you would not normally use that product or service? How can you develop a deep firsthand understanding of the people you serve?

Let us know what methods you used, what outcomes or insights you gained and how it innovated the way you do business.

Conversations with Elders with Memory Loss – Spoken Word Stories and Music by Paul Cebar

We really like the fresh perspective this collaboration brings to the music scene in general, artistic entertainment and more importantly, to the voices behind the experience of memory loss.

“Cherry Picking Apple Blossom Time, a collaboration between Duplex Planet creator David Greenberger and Milwaukee music legend Paul Cebar, Wednesday May 13th at 8 p.m. in The Pabst Theater in Milwaukee, WI.
Featuring spoken word stories derived from Greenberger’s conversations with elderly residents of Milwaukee, backed by music composed by Paul Cebar that is seamlessly integrated with the mood of the words.

In 1979, artist David Greenberger began publishing The Duplex Planet, works devoted to his conversations with nursing home residents. Now marking its thirtieth anniversary, his work has been the subject of three documentaries, collected in books, converted into comics, recorded for radio and CD release, and adapted for the stage and film.

The Simpsons creator Matt Groening says “On first reading, this stuff seems merely hilarious. Then it grows on you and becomes strangely moving. Then the moving stuff seems funny, and the funny stuff seems moving. And finally, you’re stunned by the realization that we all live on Duplex Planet.”

Greenberger’s new work draws from his conversations with elders he met during his three-month stay in Milwaukee – all of whom were experiencing some degree of memory loss, ranging from barely noticeable to profoundly fragmented thought. Greenberger’s warmth and respect for people going through one of the most feared aspects of aging shines through the music. He accepts them as they are, following conversations wherever they lead. These are people who still find pleasure in the company of others, and who open, sometimes in very small ways, to someone taking an interest in them.”

Tell it to Someone Who Cares!!

Checkout an innovative online project, “Ruby’s Bequest: Visit Deepwell!,” at http://rubysbequest.org/. The Institute for the Future (IFTF), United Cerebral Palsy and AARP have created an online “collaborative story for social good” about caregiving’s future, and Deepwell is the fictional town in the narrative.

I find the use of online social networking tools and platforms intriguing to create a discussion around designing an”ecosystem of caregiving”.   What are your thoughts?  Continue the conversation…


Here is the latest announcement from Ruby.

“Dear Folks,

Well, it’s finally happened–we now know the contents of Ruby Wood’s bequest.

But knowing sure doesn’t make things easier. We’re still “the town that doesn’t care right”, but that label comes with a challenge and an opportunity to fix things, today, using moneys from the bequest to fund interesting ideas about caring.

If you’ve already sent us a story by email or phone, we’ve done our best to respond right back, and some of your stories have even more tokens of our appreciation.

If you haven’t had time yet, here is the best way to orient yourself no matter when you start:  http://www.rubysbequest.org/current.aspx

Now, if you’re getting started for the first time on our site:

1.  Go to http://rubysbequest.org & click on “Become a Friend of Deepwellhttp://www.rubysbequest.org/addhero.aspx

2.  Go back to http://rubysbequest.org to read some “Good Thinking” by clicking on the images in the lower left hand corner

3.  Here’s some of the conversation you might want to use for inspiration:
Rhythms of Contact & Caring: http://www.rubysbequest.org/story.aspx?sid=17
Need More, No–BETTER Datahttp://www.rubysbequest.org/story.aspx?sid=110

4.  Click on “Tell us What You Knowhttp://www.rubysbequest.org/addstory.aspx to tell your own story via text form, email, or phone.  This can be a simple paragraph, a photo with a caption, or a link to a video or news article you read that you think Deepwell should consider.)

Here’s how to find stories you’ve already sent us (if you’re already signed up as a Friend of Deepwell):
1.  Go to http://rubysbequest.org
2.  Click on See All Stories (http://rubysbequest.org/search.aspx?type=all)
3.  On the right, under Popular Searches, click on Your Stories.

Lastly, we’re sure you know people who could probably add a lot to this conversation.  We all could sure use their help, so please pass this information on and, as you well know by now, Tell it to Someone Who Cares!!”

JOB AD: Must Be At Least 60 Years of Age.

You may either be searching for a job or know some one who is.  The Ladders.com, a job site for $100K job seekers recently posted an article for mature job seekers, “How to Overcome Age-Based Excuses.” Glad the Ladders is addressing an important topic.

On the flip side, and with a dose of laughter for this “economic winter”,  there is a job posting of sorts for those of at least 60 years of age.  OldJewsTellingJokes.com also require the joke-tellers to be Jewish and to tell their favorite joke.


“Storytelling is a Jewish tradition.  You’ve probably seen Fiddler on the Roof.  Whenever they ask the Rabbi a question, he tugs thoughtfully on his beard and says  “let me tell you a story.” Then they sing.

Jokes are like stories, but shorter and funnier. Old jokes tend to have a stigma, but they only last if they’re good. Some of the best ones provide a window to the culture of a bygone era.  They can reveal the concerns of a generation or even the generation before.  Anxieties of coming to a new country, of prospering, of assimilating, of having families, of fearing and worrying about, well, everything. Humor was and is the ultimate anti-depressant.”

Laugh and enjoy – it is good for your health.

The Telephone as the New Social Network Service.


Wikipedia defines a social network service as a service that “…focuses on building online communities of people who share interests and/or activities, or who are interested in exploring the interests and activities of others. Most social network services are web based and provide a variety of ways for users to interact, such as e-mail and instant messaging services.”

In addition to web based social network services there is an innovative telephone based social network  service, Senior Center Without Walls, which offers activities, conversation, and an assortment of classes and support groups to those who don’t travel to their neighborhood community senior center. You can participate from home through telephone conference calls. No special equipment is needed and the calls are completely free.


The promise of virtual reality conference calls via a platform like Second Life has not been widely adopted. Companies still use the basic telephone conference call to conduct important business.

Sometimes innovation requires a reexamination and reuse of existing products and services.

Keith Richards Falling Out Of A Palm Tree


Santa was good to me this year because the top pick from my Amazon wishlist was given to me as a gift, the book Home Design in an Aging World by Jeffrey P. Rosenfeld and Wid Chapman.  Here is a highlight from the first few chapters.  Future blog entries will feature other notable quotes, ideas and images.

“Imagine Keith Richards falling out of a palm tree. That’s the generation we built this for. The Building says, ‘Let’s pretend that everyone is happy and healthy, but if you need anything, you can get it.  It’s a back door to being old.” Dutch Architect Arnoud Gelauff, speaking about Plussenburg, his design for a high-rise for seniors 55 and older and the new meaning of home and home design in an aging world.

Plussenburgh is an apartment building for the elderly in the Netherlands, was inspired by the forthcoming retirement of the hippie generation. The project embraces its target market’s denial of aging by proposing a playful, colorful apartment block. The main structure juxtaposes a tower and an elevated slab. The slab volume is lifted more than 30 feet above a water feature in an open plaza, and creates a spectacular view onto an existing pond from the adjacent pre-existing nursing home. The minimal footprint of the tower creates space for a garden.

The two main volumes consist of apartments with a broad, uninterrupted span that allows for multiple floorplans and adaptability in the future. An inconspicuous elevator shaft connects the new building to the older one, where medical personnel, cooks and other help is available.

Wavy balconies and the glazed galleries—set with self-cleaning glass—are smooth and colored in over 200 different shades of glass are other architectural features that speak to the playfulness, experimentation and shared memories of the psychedelic 1960’s.

Also noteworthy is the image of the Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards is from a new Louis Vuitton ad campaign. Photographer Annie Leibowitz shot the ad that uses a tagline very appropriate to this book, and the POV of GoodDesignAgeWell, “Some journeys cannot be put into words. New York 3 a.m. Blues in C.”

McDonald’s Happy Meal of the Future


Wired magazine is holding a contest to collect ideas and images for a McDonald’s Happy Meal of the future for Found, a popular monthly feature article that imagines what “…our world will look like in 10, 20, or 100 years.”  The Entry by Will McBill caught our attention. We will keep you posted if an image is uploaded to accompany the description. In the meantime we will scour our database to locate any existing products, that in combination, could make the Happy Senior Meal of the future available today.

Happy Meal Senior (for adults 65 and over) by Will McBill


Big Mash® – EZ Chew Burger

Golden Frize® – Fat Free French Fried Style Soy Product

Senior Soft® – Lightly Carbonated Liquid Stool Softener

Adorable “Gypsy”® – Plush Toy with Built-In GPS to Help Happy Seniors Find Their Way Home Again