Now You See It. Now You Don’t.

Grab bar manufacturers  are trying to move away from the ADA compliant building code look of public restroom grab bars.  New shapes, colors, finishes and materials are now available. But still the stigma of a grab bar has slowed its acceptance by homeowners, despite the convenience and comfort it provides for all users.  In a recent New York Times article by Joyce Walder, fold-down grab bars are pictured that can be added to a bathroom when needed.  This is an innovative approach to making a house flexible to meet the needs of its occupants, as opposed to the occupants adapting their needs to the inflexible structure of the built environment.


The remainder of the article features other universal design features for special needs, for the possibility of age related physical decline and for maximum access to a house in general.

Dirt Shirts

Dirt Shirts are an eco-friendly way to keep your clothes clean while eating!  It is an extra shirt that functions as a bib! What we at GoodDesignAgeWell like about the bibs is their ageless branding and that they are for messy eaters, regardless of age.  Who doesn’t love a messy BBQ lunch or crab fest?

They are great for:

  • Commuters who eat in the car
  • BBQ lovers.
  • Artists
  • Messy eaters!


Spotted in Springwise, Margo Roth of jemfruits has createed, “Dirt Shirts – an alternative to a tied napkin or traditional adult-sized bib that offers a more stylish  way to keep messy eaters’ clothes clean. Dirt Shirts are essentially regular collared, button-down shirts with the sleeves and most of the back removed. Adults in need of a little extra clothing protection while they eat simply slip the neck opening over their head, and the front of the shirt covers their own garments; most are lined, unless the fabric is heavy enough to do the job alone.  Dirt Shirts are available in a variety of styles, patterns and lengths for about USD 19. “

At GoodDesignAgeWell we strive to highlight the best and most innovative products.  But sometimes it is easier to find the best by comparing it to the worst.  If you don’t think the Dirt Shirt is that great, checkout one of your alternative choices, the institutional styled Crumb Catcher™ for $39.99.


I guess the Crumb Catcher is twice as expensive becuase you get added features like the “food catcher with trough,” the self-ties,  and a neck cutout that allows for an, oh so comfortable “snug fit under the chin.” And if that doesn’t give you a tailored look and feel it “….can be taped in place for complete coverage.”

Is it really just marketing?  Is it based on superior functionality? Or both?

You decide which bib you want – the Dirt Shirt vs  the Latex free Crumb Catcher™

“Nike Adult Playground”

The blog, whatiftheydid, is a new favorite destination of mine for innovation and inspiration.  It is a blog of ‘what if’ ideas, a collection of random thoughts, advertising ideas and ideas for the real world. One of their random ideas is a Nike adult playground which reminded me of LifeTrail by PlayWorld Systems.


The LifeTrail outdoor fitness equipment is a collection of 10 different exercise stations that encourage adults to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. The Welcome Station provides information on the basics of using LifeTrail. The panels describe the general benefits of exercise and give instructions for optimizing the use of LifeTrail based on physical ability. This station also addresses the need for users to consult their physician or healthcare professional prior to beginning any exercise program.

The Welcome Station

The Welcome Station

The Balance Station is one of the 10 exercise stations. Balance exercises are an important component of any fitness program for older adults, especially since falling is the leading cause of bone fractures for this population.

The Balance Station

The Balance Station

In a related story, the International Council on Active Aging and the National Institute on Aging (NIA) team of experts recently released the NIA exercise guide. The 2009 version of Exercise and Physical Activity: Your Everyday Guide from the National Institute on Aging is now available online to view/download, or to order a free copy (U.S. only), please visit:


On of the main points highlighted is the difference between physical activity and exercise.

“Both terms refer to the voluntary movements you do that burn calories. Physical activities are activities that get your body moving such as gardening, walking the dog, raking leaves, and taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Exercise is a form of physical activity that is specifically planned, structured, and repetitive such as weight training, tai chi, or an aerobics class.

Physical activity and exercise are both important and can help improve your ability to do the everyday activities you enjoy.  The bottom line? There are many ways to be active every day. Find something you enjoy doing, include it in your regular routine, and try to increase your level of activity over time.”

LoJack For People and Possessions

A personal GPS locator device to keep track of people, pets and luggage.


Azadeh Ensha from the NYTimes reports that “Location Based Technologies’ PocketFinder is a GPS device that lets you locate the holder anywhere in the United States via the Internet. PocketFinder, about the size of an Oreo cookie, can fix its location within 30 feet. Users can track someone’s whereabouts through the Internet or a Web-enabled smartphone, or by text message or phone.

PocketFinder lets you designate safety zones and danger zones, and alerts you if the device enters or leaves such areas. It can also track how fast the device is moving and notify you if a preset speed limit is exceeded (parents of teenage drivers, take note).

You can also place the PocketFinder, which is waterproof, on your pet’s collar or your luggage. The device can run up to seven days on a charge and will text, call or e-mail you when it’s running low on juice.

The PocketFinder will be available in March for $130 and a monthly service fee.

Think of it as a LoJack, but for people.”

original article

Mama said, “Wash Your Hands!” – Design for Behavior Change.


The Center for Disease Control and Prevention lists “improved handwashing compliance associated with more attractive and accessible products” as one of two recommendations to prevent and control serious hospital-acquired infections.

Springwise recently featured PatientPak, “…an integral B2C approach to their prevention. Sold and marketed to consumers instead of to health institutions, PatientPak is a collection of antimicrobial and other hygiene items for those planning a hospital visit. Its aim: to kill 99.99% of bugs, including nasties such as MRSA, salmonella and E. coli. GBP 16 buys a set of fourteen different germ prevention items to be used during a hospital stay, ranging from hand, surface and fabric sanitizing sprays to an advice leaflet, disposable pen and polite bedside sign to remind others to wash their hands.


Separately, much of the pack’s contents are readily available, but by bundling a range of products for a specific purpose, the brand has created a new product that should speak both to consumers’ worries and to their desire for convenience

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.

Not Your Father’s Grab Bar.

We have all seen the bent stainless steel tubes that snake across public restrooms. Although useful, they are rarely welcomed into homes because of their institutional look.


The Kohler Belay Handrail allows the expensive tile you chose for your spa bathroom to continue without visual interruption.

K-1846-MX 54" handrail in Matte Nickel.

K-1846-MX 54" handrail in Matte Nickel.

“Convenience and enhanced wellbeing welcome you in your customized showering environment. Belay handrails ensure your safety and security in the shower without interrupting the aesthetic appeal of tiled walls. An integral water channel allows handrails to drain and dry completely for ease of cleaning. Belay handrails may be installed at various heights to accommodate your individual needs and finish-matched to coordinate with your KOHLER® shower faucetry.”

  • Finishes (Satin Silver, Bright Polished Silver, Brushed Nickel, Matte Nickel, Anodized Brushed Bronze) coordinate with Kohler shower doors and faucets
  • Integral water channel to eliminate water from pooling in the hand rail
  • Installation can be on one, two, or three walls of a shower or bath
  • Grip rails can be cut to length for custom sizes
List price*: $236.25 and up

Expanding the Cycling Experience

A photo gallery at Core77, Design Magazine and Resource, features Bicycle, “the title of a 100-day event (Jun.22.2008 – Oct.5.2008) full of activities and lectures anchored by a central exhibition at the Designhuis in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. The exhibition provides an overview of the variety of two-wheelers designed for sports, transport, showing off… everything!”


These models by Van Ramm increases the joy of cycling by expanding the flexibility of the biking experience to a much larger group with features to fit a variety of rider desires. The 2Cycle is a side by side version of the classic tandem, and the Fun2Go is also a side by side tandem but this model offers the flexibility to have one active rider and customize the second rider position with a varity of features to match the level and type of participation desired; including hand powered with fixed foot pedals.  The O Pair and Velo Plus have one primary active rider supplying the motion for a passenger.  Available through dealers in the UK and Europe.

Lighting – Product Update and New Product Announcement

Adult Step-n-Shine.  Available at $33.88

Adult Step-n-Shine. Available at $33.88

A reader commented on the September 18 entry on the child Step’n Shine that an adult version is available in beige.  I don’t know when beige became synonymous with adult but this version is the same size as the child’s Step’n Shine but absent the rocket ships and daises.  Further product research revealed an alternative use.  It also helps in letting you know when someone else gets out of bed. By placing the mat next to their bed and the extra nightlight in your room, as soon as the other person gets out of bed the light in your room will turn on letting you know that they are up and about.

Another innovative lighting system that is convenient, low energy consumption and attractive is an indoor or outdoor stair lighting system from Stairlighting System starting at $249.

Stairlighting System $249

Stairlighting System $249

* Patented low-voltage LED technology
* 3-beam spotlight design
* Light sensor turns your stairway lights on & off
* Battery backup lasts up to 12 hours or more
* Hidden wires hidden in patented sleeves
* Paintable components blend with your stairs & walls

The LED light source requires less power than the output of a 9-volt transistor battery. The low-voltage DC transformer/charger is certified by Energy Star for high energy efficiency and UL listed. Photocell technology senses ambient light and turns the stairway light system on and off automatically, as needed and the light sensor may be overridden for continuous lighting. During an emergency, the Stairlighting Kit turns on automatically with battery backup power that lasts up to 12 hours or more. The LED lights and transformer stay cool, are water-resistant,  designed to last for nearly 12 years and the patented track system protects any contact with the low-voltage wires. The compact power box continuously charges its own self-contained backup battery while the lights are on. Installation is described as simple enough for the average DIY’er with basic tools.  The kit contains all the materials needed.

Happy Meal of the Future – Available Today

As a follow-up to the November 3 entry on Wired Magazine’s Happy Meal of the future for seniors we collected existing products that could complete the menu today. We may not agree with the numerical age designation of the original Wired magazine entry, “for adults 65 and over”, but we understand that some of the items may be more relevant to physical decline of later life stages.

Beef and Asparagus by Epikura

Beef and Asparagus by Epikura

Big Mash® – EZ Chew Burger could be easily produced by Epikura’s unique technology which processes natural ingredients in order to modulate texture profiles. They are then reshaped appropriately to return the retexturized food to its natural look while preserving their true taste. Textures are modified by reducing particle sizes and by controlling firmness, cohesiveness, adhesiveness and springiness. This innovative process makes food safe and easy to swallow, especially for mild and severe dysphagia.

I sampled several dishes at the International Federation on Ageing’s 9th Global Conference and Ageing & Design Expo in September 2008. I tried a slice of ham, a ring of pineapple and chocolate cake. Every item looks and tastes as it supposed to but the texture was extremely smooth and required no chewing, which was a very strange sensory experience, especially for the slice of ham.

Vegan fries from Yellow-Sunshine.

Vegan fries from Yellow-Sunshine.

Golden Frize® – Fat Free French Fried Style Soy Product are very similar to the 100% meatless yam fries at Zen Burger in New York City or the vegan fries at Yellow-Sunshine in Berlin, Germany.

Wild Bunch & Co. premuim juices

Wild Bunch & Co. premuim juices

Senior Soft® – Lightly Carbonated Liquid Stool Softener can already be concocted with a can of 7-up and prune juice.  But drinks of the future may offer more benefits than just a healthy digestive system.  The Singaporean company, Wild Bunch & Co. sells 100% organic juice in distinctive bottles. Its seasonal menus feature a variety of pure and mixed fruit and vegetable juices, ranging from Easy Peazy (carrots, peas and parsnip) to Pineapple Zinger (pineapple and ginger).

PARO Therapeutic Robot

PARO Therapeutic Robot

Adorable “Gypsy”® – Plush Toy is a sure match for the therapeutic robot PARO which offers the documented benefits of animal therapy; improves brain function in people with cognition disorders, reduces  stress and encourages relaxation. PARO has five kinds of sensors: tactile, light, audition, temperature, and posture sensors, with which it can perceive people and its environment. PARO feels being stroked by tactile sensor, or being held by the posture sensor. Paro can also recognize the direction of voice and words such as its name, greetings, and praise with its audio sensor.  PARO responds as if it is alive, moving its head and legs, making sounds, and also imitates the voice of a real baby harp seal.