Università Iuav di Venezia (ITALY)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN22 Proceedings
Publication year: 2022
Pages: 2105-2115
ISBN: 978-84-09-42484-9
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2022.0548
Conference name: 14th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2022
Location: Palma, Spain
Multimorbidity is a widespread age-related condition. Designing for seniors, besides taking into account age-dependent functional changes, also means becoming familiar with this medical condition. In this paper, we present a teaching process and the resulting design concepts developed within the workshop ‘Design for Multimorbidity’ by the students of the master’s degree in Product and Visual Communication Design at Iuav University of Venice (Italy). The aim is i) to increase students’ knowledge and raise awareness about the multimorbidity condition and the needs of the elderly; ii) make them familiar with the concepts of sensory, motor, and cognitive changes; and to iii) design products and services suitable for seniors who need to manage, treat, monitor their medical conditions independently, and possibly safely, enabling care in the domestic environment. In this way, students get closer to the field of Gerotechnology, that is the study of technology and ageing for the improvement of elderly’s daily functioning. This discipline examines and compares the new and upcoming technologies along with the biological, psychological, and social phenomena of ageing to single out which products can be most suitable for the elderly (assistive and medical devices, ICTs).

Given the sensitive nature of the topic, which requires involved seniors to adapt their lifestyle, knowledge, and actions to the medical condition, the workshop aimed to strengthen students’ skills in User-Centered Design and user experience methodologies. The choice to follow this design approach aimed not only to provide conceptual and practical design tools, but also to educate future generations of designers to practice empathy, explore carefully the context of use of products and services that can potentially change and improve the life of people with severe or complex health conditions, as well as to enquire seniors and their caregivers about their everyday life in order to close the distance between users and designers who belong to two very different age cohorts. The workshop focused on stressing the importance of keeping into account the needs and desires of seniors in relation to their multimorbidity and medical conditions, but also to their need for independence and discretion. We believe that this approach may contribute to improving the elderly's quality of life and lead to healthier ageing.
Design education, multimorbidity, healthy ageing, gerotechnology, medical design.