Designing Wellness Tools for and with Older Adults
Joe, Jonathan Kevin
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Over the past few decades, the use of new technologies such as computing and internet technology, has expanded rapidly. The emergence of these new technologies has created opportunities for health related uses. With the growing older adult population, there has been increased interest in using tools to support aging, health, and wellness of the older adult population. While technologies have been used with older adults for purposes such as symptom management and cognitive training, many technologies are not designed with older adults in mind. While there have been some studies that look at the usability of a single component, there have been few studies looking at a technology platform that integrates several features together. Designing specifically for older adults is important since this population has its own unique health and information needs. This dissertation includes 3 studies that exploring the wants and needs of older adults for integrated, multifunctional health and wellness tools. The first study seeks to understand the attitudes and preferences towards a multifunctional wellness tool via 3 focus group sessions. The second study identifies usability issues of a popular, commercially available wellness tool to generate recommendations on what issues to avoid in newly designed wellness tools by usability testing a commercially available multifunctional wellness tool with 5 participants. This study also successfully used the novel method of instant data analysis for usability testing analysis, and discusses the results of both the use of the method and stability issues identified using IDA. The third and final study solicited the reactions and feedback of older adults to 5 scenarios and storyboards showing design ideas generated after the first two phases, and via participant sketches for their ideal wellness tool. Results from these studies help to better understand older adults’ perceptions, attitudes and issues with potential wellness tools and inform the design of new effective and efficient systems for older adults. Factors that future designers should consider when creating new multifunctional wellness tools include older adults’ unmet need of reliable health information, ease of use in multifunctional wellness tools and biophysical changes that may affect how they interface with new technologies.