Naidex 2016 Highlights

A few highlights of Naidex 2016

This year, Naidex proudly played host to a range of sporting representatives from across the spectrum of disability sport. International athletes from GB Wheelchair Basketball, Boccia and Powerchair Football engaged visitors in Q&A sessions, introducing many to the sports on offer. David Gardener, a Wheelchair Tennis player and Paralympian from Athens 2004 spoke to visitors about his role as a member of the British Paralympic Association as well as his formidable sporting career. With the 2016 Paralympic games now fewer than a hundred days away, there’s a strong buzz in the para-sporting world and Naidex was glad to share in the excitement of the coming games in Rio.

As well as the impressive list of well-known faces, Naidex exhibited the latest sporting equipment and technology. Roma Sport, the best British manufacturer of rugby chairs, displayed their latest designs, alongside big names in para-sport such as Wheelpower, CP Sport and representatives from the English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS). Marketing and communications manager of EFDS, Courtney Perks, confirmed that Naidex was a fantastic opportunity to spread the word about the rising participation in disability sport and to reach out to those who have not yet found their niche. EDFS supports a large number of disability sport associations, including LimbPower, British Blind Sport, Dwarf Sports Association UK and UK Deaf Sport.

Other exciting new technology on show included the Genny, winner of the Best in Show Award, which is designed not only to provide extra day-to-day comfort to the chair user, but also to allow a revolutionary level of access. Off-road tyres, self-balancing technology and weather-proof controls give to user more freedom, opening inaccessible grounds such as beaches, woodland or rocky terrain. The Genny also promoted the advantages of its steering-handle over traditional pushing. Gloves and jumpers, normally made damp or muddy, stay clean and dry, and the user is able do ‘the little things’ that a walker may take for granted – holding a dog’s lead, holding a drink, holding a partner’s hand.

All three days were packed with exciting new innovations and the enthusiasm was evident, in both the visitors and the exhibitors! Inspiring Q&A sessions, engaging seminars and dynamic displays once again captured the public’s imagination and helped Naidex maintain its atmospheric ‘People’s Choice’ ratings in the independent living and assistive technology sector.

Over the course of the exhibition, the selection of speakers ranged from the sporting stars previously mentioned, company directors, leading healthcare professionals and decorated keynote addressors. Martyn Sibley, CEO of Disability Horizons expressed perfectly the sentiment of the event – “Everything is possible … when you believe”. Naidex has released the dates for next year’s show, and this will take place, again at the NEC in Birmingham, on 28-30th March 2017. With the mass of positive reviews and the exciting promise brought to the stage this year, it is certain that next year’s exhibition will be just as innovative, moving and educational, if not more so! Be sure to pencil these dates in the diary and see what you could discover at Naidex 2017.

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Senior couple keeping fit and being active walking in the the woods - Dare To Be Purple - Purple Hearts

New fitness technology – not just glorified pedometers…

#PurpleHearts

Maybe you’ve had a slow start to 2016, or haven’t gotten round to making those New Year’s Resolutions that most people forget after January 3rd… But it’s not too late to take charge of the one thing most people try to tackle in their ‘New Year, new me’ schemes – fitness.

There are some fantastic new products on the market, in the form of innovative smart watches and phone apps, to personalised fitness routines and meal planners that are easy to use and suitable for everybody. Campaigns like ‘This Girl Can’ and ‘Change4Life’ are encouraging men and women of all ages and sporting abilities to keep active and healthy and there’s no reason why anybody with a disability or mobility impairment should miss out. One way to really get stuck in to fitness is to get to know the effect that your exercise is having on your body, both during and after activity, and to track your progress on interactive charts that many products and apps now offer.

Using the Apple Watch, for example, you can set timers that will remind you to stretch your legs, if you’ve been sitting at a desk too long, or to remind you of pressure relief if you’re a wheelchair user. You can make unique exercise plans set personal goals on apps like the step-counter, heartrate monitor and calorie counter. It offers different exercise options from walking and pushing to cycling and rowing. You can also track your exercise routes on mini maps and compare the distance and difficulty of your various trails with your friends. Since many hesitate over the Apple Watch because of the price, there are cheaper alternatives on the market and, although they don’t feature the signature Apple touch screen, they can still monitor body function, assess the quality of your sleep and connect to a PC so you can trace your progress.

Fitbit have eight models that range from £45 to £200, depending on how many different things you want it to do. The most basic Fitbit, the ‘Zip’, will count your steps, keep track of your active minutes and, of course, tell the time. The most advanced model, the ‘Surge’, offers things you’d expect from a smartphone: GPS tracking, music control, text and call notifications and sleep assessment. It automatically recognises when you begin to exercise, counts steps and floors climbed, monitors heartrate and offers multiple sport settings, to make sure the data it gives you is as accurate as possible. The models in between the Zip and the Surge offer different groups of functions, so you can choose how much or how little would be most useful to you. The Fitbit also comes in up to ten colours, depending on the model, so you can even get personal with the aesthetics.

Some wheelchair users choose not to wear a watch but, if you have a smartphone, you can always find apps that will help you create exercise tables and design meal plans. Argus, for example, is a neat all-in-one activity tracker that monitors your sleep, heart rate, calorie intake and more. The app offers challenges to overcome, as well as the option to build your own workout plan. You can even add food you eat by scanning the barcode on the label to track your calories. Some apps, such as Carrot Fit and JETFIT offer short, intense workouts for different parts of the body, depending on what you need to work on and… they’re free! Many both educate about anatomy and help the user to observe and improve their own fitness. Why not try one today? They take seconds to download and cost nothing.
It’s also a bit different from the standard chocolates and flowers this Valentine’s Day. If you and your other half exercise together, it’s a great way to compare progress and share achievements. If you’re not gym buddies, perhaps a gift like a Fitbit will start a new, ‘healthier living’ chapter!

 

Out and about exercises

Check out the if there are any specially designed exercise classes in your area Extend Exercise Classes or moveitorloseit www.moveitorloseit.co.uk in your area

Free Guided Walks throughout the UK

Two rollators designed for outdoors and offroad

  • Topro Olympos from Norway
  • The tires designed to be comfortable driving on rough foundations like cobblestone or dirt roads and Made from materials that tolerate all kinds of weather.
  • kerb lifters and edge guard.

 

If you don’t want to or can’t leave the house (or even your chair) then don’t let that stop you:

Motorised Pedal Exercisers or Magnetrainer

Senior Exercise DVDs

Cando hand exercisers

The Chairmaster, not yet available in the UK but is this purple or beige? What do you think?

 

If you want to get in touch to recommend a product to review or have your own product that you want to talk about, let us know!

 

Older man being active and driving a care - Dare To Be Purple

Keep on moving – in your Porsche!

#MoveWithTheTimes

 

You know that the over 50’s have it all when you read an article from SAGA that we as a group spend more on motoring than any other age.

People over 50 spent £7.6 billion in 2014 on new cars; more than £6 of every £10 of new car spend in Britain, and were also twice as likely to opt for a Porsche, Mini or Jaguar than anyone else.

Car ownership, which keeps the over 50 mobile and engaged in social activities, has been steadily rising since 2000 and this increase has been especially dramatic for those over 75 as people in the UK live longer.

Keeping mobile has an upside for UK Plc because people who can get about remain independent for longer, reducing care and health costs.

So what Purple products are out there out there to help us all keep moving? Well it’s hard to find a stand out product here but given their functionality, here’s 9 categories that can keep you moving, together with a reminder about the things you need to know about driving when you’re older. Sometimes it makes sense to act within the law!

Handy_bar

Car Caddie - Dare To Be Purple

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Auto_hand_grips

Banana_transfer_board

Vehicle_ramp

Key_turner.png

Steering_knob.png

 

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The Purple Community – Celebrate Purple! Denounce the Beige!

In 2016 and beyond Dare to be Purple wants to keep on moving and to build a community to champion brighter, bolder and better designed enabling aids. We want to challenge the dull and uninspired and the frankly beige thinking that is being foisted upon the generations that were Mods, Rockers and Punks, rode motor cycles without helmets, went grape picking in France, hitched rides with strangers (and lived to tell the tale) and were the first to get to grips with new electronic technology in the home.

We’re not looking to be moaning minnies, we just want to encourage an inclusive, lively and ongoing discussion about the current products on offer and what we would want to see in the future. This Purple Community needs people like you to share your thoughts and ideas and in turn help designers and manufacturers who haven’t had any first-hand experience of living with mobility or other age related difficulties do a better job. The more followers we have, the more sway we’ll hold as a community!

We’d love to hear what you have to say – about products you’ve found, designs you enjoy using, or questions you’d like to ask each other or of our own Dare To Be Purple experts. Join us today by following us on Twitter or Facebook and help our community flourish!

Assisted living products shouldn't have to be beige! Dare To Be Purple Blog

So many assisted living products look clinical and unhomely… Are there better designs?

Assisted living products are designed to do exactly that – assist living. Unfortunately, it often seems as though this is the only design criteria and the product, however useful, just doesn’t look like something you’d want in your house. Although most of us will only need mobility aids in later years, there are those that require assisted living products from an earlier age. Just as children’s wheelchairs come in bright colours (and sometimes with superhero accessories), there’s no reason that other mobility aids shouldn’t be customisable to stages of life between between childhood and old age. Nobody chooses to paint their house beige, so why would they want to incorporate dull, grey living supports into their home? From bathing equipment to adapted couches, it’s hard to find something that fits in. You don’t want your home looking like a hospital… So what can you do?

Have no fear! At Dare to be Purple it’s our goal to show you better options that both function in the way that you need and look the way you want. Take your bathroom, for instance. If you need hand rails, there’s no need for them to be white or grey if you don’t want them to look medical. There are stainless steel alternatives, and putting in a rail with a slight bend or wave can add a stylish look to your necessary aid. Something previously purely functional now looks elegant and fits in to the personal interior of your home.

If you’ve ever spent time in hospital, you’ll know how horrible it can be… So why should you have to fill your home with hospital look-alikes? You don’t! One common qualm is bathing. The hospital suggestion is often a heavy, cumbersome shower chair on wheels, or a commode… No thanks! Living in your own home, particularly when you’re young, you need to be proud of where you live and take care of the rooms in which you’re going to spend a lot of time. A bathroom full of clinical-looking, clumsy bathroom aids won’t make you want to take care of your bathroom or spend time there. It’s time for an ‘out with the old, in with the new’ approach – throw out those beige bores and jazz up your bathroom with stylish and often discrete alternatives. There are some truly fantastic bathing aids out there that look like air cushions and fold up to the size of a bath towel. There are smart seats that lower into and then rise out of the water, and depending on the level support you need, you can find some with backrests and some without. As a paraplegic myself, I use a Mangar bathing cushion which inflates and deflates at the touch of a button, folds away, and comes with a portable battery pack. I don’t see any reason why my paralysis confines me to showers or why my bathing aid needs to look ugly.

Your living aids need to be something you want to use, not just because need to, but because you enjoy using them. Our aim, to bring designs to life, is fuelled by the desire to improve quality of life not just through functionality but by beautiful design. From the kitchen to the bedroom, you have more options than you think, so don’t settle for something that won’t bring pleasure or look right in your home. Out with the beige, in with the bold!

 

If you use Purple products in your life, we’d love to hear about them – get in touch with us here.

Man ignoring woman on phone - Dare To Be Purple Blog

“A vision of Hell” – Guest blog

This week we have from our Purple Community a guest contributor. Boxy is a retired teacher now living in Cornwall. He is very active, healthy and extremely fit. He owns no technology apart from a phone connected to a landline and an ordinary television: no microwave, computer and certainly not a smartphone. Read his blog to find out why he thinks we should all put our mobiles away to avoid turning to a mushy Beige!

If you want to challenge this view; if you believe the genie is out of the box and can never be put back; that mobile technology is a Purple boon to modern life, then use the reply function or email contact@daretobepurple with a 1000 words on why a mobile is an essential aid and we’ll post it on your behalf.

Mobile Phones: A vision of Hell!

I have never owned a mobile phone and cannot imagine that I ever will. It is not a Luddite stance against the march of technology and the explosion of social media. It is a lifestyle choice and I can remember vividly the moment when this resolve first manifested itself.

My wife and I were on holiday in Tuscany and Umbria nearly 20 years ago. The mobile phone was not common in Britain then; I’m not even sure if I’d seen one ever used, but it was the last word in cool sophistication in Italy, particularly amongst the affluent young. It was the Rubik cube for twenty something fashionistas, the loomband for the electronic generation.

We were in a smart restaurant and at a large circular table next to us were some of the beautiful people. They should have been flirting, flaunting their wit and repartee or engaged in a heated political debate. Instead, they ignored each other, preferring to play with their new phones, which rang constantly. It seemed they only wanted to interact with those who weren’t there. It was a glimpse of the future. It was a vision of hell.

Now, many years, later, I am unable to call home when I’m away. My wife doesn’t worry. She knows that the handful of public telephones still on the street are either vandalised or out of order. No-one reports this state of affairs because everyone has a mobile. Sometimes friends say, “I couldn’t get hold of you”. That’s OK, I don’t want to be at your beck and call. I don’t want to answer a phone when I’m fishing or watching day three of a cricket match or walking along a coastal footpath. Ah, but what would happen if I broke my ankle on such a walk? I don’t know, but we didn’t wait to enjoy a little solitude until the mobile phone was invented. Would I get a signal anyway? And let’s face it, a life without risk is no life at all.

Think of the benefits I enjoy. I do not demean myself by taking ‘selfies’. I will not step in front of a lorry whilst I’m tweeting some inanity. On trains and buses I will actually speak to people or I can read a book or newspaper instead of receiving news that someone I’ve never even met has just added a second spoonful of sugar to his latte. No one will show me their disrespect by texting to say they are “running late” and will arrive 15 minutes after the time we had prearranged for our rendezvous. That of course is another function of the mobile. It is a licence to never have to be on time.

As these devices become smarter and smarter they facilitate our descent into a state of childlike ignorance and helplessness. Hurray! We no longer need to know anything. There’s an app to help you find the pub, identify a bird, tie a shoelace. If you don’t know something don’t bother trying to work it out, don’t think about it or even discuss it – GOOGLE it! You don’t know the capital of Venezuela or who played in goal for Brighton in the Cup Final, well, racking your brains is so last century. Google it for instant satisfaction and, then, forget it. Next time South American capitals or The Seagulls crop up in conversation – if you are still having conversations – you can Google it again!

You don’t have to attend a Buddhist retreat to realise that it might be a good thing to live in the moment as far as possible. While you’ve got that electronic toy in front of your face you are preventing yourself from doing so. Put it away. Get a real life.

Keeping active can slow your ageing - Dare To Be Purple Blog

How long are your telomeres?

New research from the US and reported in the American press (from which most of this article has been shamefacedly plagiarised) suggests that almost any amount and type of physical activity may slow ageing deep within our cells and starting exercise from the age of 40 has the most profound effect.

Dating a cell’s age is tricky, because its biological and chronological ages rarely match. A cell could be relatively young in terms of how long it has existed but function slowly or erratically, as if elderly so many scientists have begun determining a cell’s biological age — meaning how well it functions and not how old it literally is — by measuring the length of its telomeres.

telomere is a region of repetitive nucleotide sequences at each end of a chromatid, which protects the end of the chromosome from deterioration or from fusion with neighbouring chromosomes or…… for those who don’t know that much genetics and DNA engineering; they’re like tiny caps found on the end of DNA strands, akin to the end bit of your shoelace. They’re believed to protect the DNA from damage during cell division and replication.

As a cell ages, its telomeres naturally shorten and fray – just like shoelaces. But unlike shoelaces, the process can be accelerated by obesity, smoking, insomnia, diabetes and other aspects of health and lifestyle. In those cases, the affected cells age prematurely.

However, the scientists’ study suggests that exercise may slow the fraying of telomeres. Past studies have found, for instance, that athletes typically have longer telomeres than sedentary people of the same age, as do older women who frequently walk or engage in other fairly moderate exercise, (read previous blog about the benefits of walking) but this study looked far wider.

In this study they found that people who did a variety of exercise were nearly 60% likely to have longer telomeres than someone who participated in a single activity who were 3% likely to have long telomeres than someone who did no exercise at all.

Interestingly, these associations were strongest among people between the ages of 40 and 65, suggesting that middle age may be a key time to begin or maintain an exercise program if you wish to keep telomeres from shrinking.

However, the study was purely associational, so cannot show whether exercise actually causes changes in telomere length, only that people who exercise have longer telomeres.

Perhaps most important, the results from this study don’t tell us whether longer telomeres translate into better health. But other studies have shown that telomeres are predictive of mortality, with shorter telomeres equating to shorter lives.

So the message seems clear; a variety of exercise is good for your cells, a good time to start exercising is in those middle to late years and genetic engineering is as simple as tying your shoelaces!

So go on, elongate those telomeres, your health depends on it!

Keep active by keep walking - Dare To Be Purple Blog

Hey! Couch potato! Let us show you the door!

Most of us have a tendency to be lazy at this time of year. It’s dull, wet and windy outside and we’re nice and warm, building our ‘winter coat’ with chocolate digestives and sweet tea. Eventually there comes a time (January) when many of us will join a gym, drawn in by special ‘never to be repeated’ offers and motivated by the rather obvious point that our winter coat is now rather too snug and our level of inactivity is considered by some as late hibernation.

The gym generally goes well until we reach February and then we notice that the other people we joined with (and hid amongst), are no longer to be seen. Now it’s just you and the narcissist, mirror watching, grunting weight lifter and some non-stop treadmill runners. This is often the tipping point back to a sedentary life and hibernation.

You assuage any guilt by the strong and misguided self-belief that you’re not really overweight, really quite active and you are also too old for this ‘gym’ malarkey.

However, here’s the hard truth – seventy-eight per cent of us claim to be active for our age according to a series of studies into family life in Britain by Nestlé Family Monitor but the survey showed that 74 per cent of people aged over 50 never played sport and 63 per cent never exercised. Many of us do nothing more strenuous than walking to the shops once or twice a week.

As a result, more than half of us aged over 50 are overweight, including 16 per cent who are obese running the risk of losing our mobility and becoming a burden on relatives and the state.

Well here’s some good news. A recent study reported that women of all ages and men over 50 stayed slimmer when they took a brisk daily jaunt rather than signing up with a health club.

A study from the London School of Economics drew the rather obvious conclusion that going to the gym takes much more time than just walking out your front door and that walking, when started is a lasting habit.

Well stone the crows, there you have it – walking is good for you, in fact it’s good for all of us! Dr Stan Grant, a lecturer in physiology and sport science at Glasgow University said that his own research shows that it is not too late for an improvement in health, even if a person is 89 years of age.

However, research from the Rudd Centre for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University shows that making overweight or obese people feel bad about their bodies actually increases their risk of becoming or staying obese. So what can we do to help nudge the couch potatoes amongst us into action?

Well here’s what we think could help – technology and specifically activity trackers, those wearable devices that count steps or measure distance travelled and perhaps advise on calories burned.

But before you go out of your front door to buy a tracker and start walking to John ‘O’ Groats or Lands’ End here’s some advice:

  1. If you are under medical supervision consider talking to your doctor before you commence daily exercise. It’s unlikely they’ll stop you, in fact we’re sure they be very supportive but best to check.
  2. Don’t push it. Gradually build up your distance. Don’t set yourself up for failure with over ambitious plans such as a 5-mile route march on day 1.
  3. Make your walking activity a family or team affair. The best way to lose weight and to be more active is to have some support. Partner up with someone else to encourage each other to eat healthy and be more physically fit. You’re twice as likely to keep a daily routine up if you team up with someone else – you could share the cost of the tracker; you’ll only need one if you walk together.
  4. Pick a tracker to suit you. Consider options; find out what other people are using and if you know of a ‘Purple’ tracker (great design and good functionality) please share it with us.
  5. Choose something that you can use. It doesn’t have to be the latest craze, the one with the most features – you don’t need a £500 Apple Watch to do the basics; we’re only really looking to count steps and/or calories!
  6. Don’t distort these health tools into instruments of punishment. Use the tracker as a way to keep healthy, don’t punish yourself for what you fail to achieve.

Given that walking is cheap, engages you with your environment, offers you the chance to meet people, helps reduce stress, de-risks many life threatening conditions, keeps you mobile, reduces your future dependency on relatives and the state, what is stopping you? Jeremy Kyle, Moving Holmes, Call of Duty?!

Go find your front door, open it, step through it and start changing things for the better!

Credit card transaction - Dare To Be Purple Blog

I’m contactless – but in a good way!

I read today that the over-50s are ‘embracing contactless cards’. Based on research by Saga involving 6000 people over the age of 50 the article said that one in every 5 of us over 50 have a contactless card and use it and as often as three times a week! It also mentions that more than 4 out of 10 people aged between 80 and 89 have used their contactless card once.

Hang on a minute though: there are around 58 million contactless cards in the UK so they are as common as the chips they use and the ones we eat (more about chips in our next blog) and given the limit for a single payment using a contactless card increased from £20 to £30 in September we have more opportunities to use them; so why so little engagement by the over 50’s? Perhaps the bridge too far was actually raising the cash limit. Seven out of 10 people questioned said they worry about the security of contactless credit or debit cards!

So what can these statistics tell us? Well if we turn all of them on their head and look at them from a sideways point of view, (difficult, but everything is possible with statistics) it’s more a negative than positive picture. Far from embracing this new technology we are shunning it, and the older we get the more suspicious or perhaps more sceptical we become – but then again the definition of a sceptic is a realist with life experience!

So where’s the relevance for enabling aids and later life – I’m presuming that’s the reason you’re reading this blog?

Like contactless cards at the moment, enabling aids are something few of choose to use, preferring to struggle on and we worry too much when we do have them.

So what are the solutions to what now might be a common set of problems?

The first thing for both is the need to change perceptions. One way is the provision of opportunities to use whatever it is we don’t understand and preferably in familiar environments.

In the same way that the range of places where contactless payments are accepted, Aldi, Greggs, McDonald’s, M6 Toll, London Buses, London Tubes and the Post Office, we have to increase the range of opportunities for people to use enabling aids.

For example, a friend or family member taking the time to regularly go walking with someone who now needs to use a cane or other walking aid can build up an acceptance that these things do offer advantages to their lives and may also help re-build that ‘Dare To Be Purple’ confidence and attitude!

Secondly we need to promote the security and feeling of safety in the use of both; contactless cards and enabling aids. This can be achieved through the provision of information and services. The UK Cards Association backs up contactless cards. They describe instances of fraud on contactless cards as ”extremely rare”, with losses of less than a penny for every £100 spent on contactless – far lower than card fraud generally. Also if your card is fraudulently used you will be reimbursed, as long as you have taken reasonable steps to keep your card safe. Feel a bit safer, a bit more secure?

We need our own association to do the same with regard to enabling aids. To provide a similar supportive framework and the necessary information for people to use their enabling aid.

However, the different services and people involved in enabling aids; health and social services, voluntary organisations, consumer groups, family, equipment retailers etc. have no overarching body and all have well-intentioned but slightly different objectives. This often means that although the information and support can be comprehensive it can also be fragmented, not readily accessible in one place and sometimes in the absence of other opinion, confusing.

This issue is not the exclusive territory of those with complex needs. Those of us with more simple, less complex requirements also want to feel secure, particularly from exclusion or derision. As we previously wrote no one wants to be pointed out as disabled or less-able. We argued that we need to create an environment where good design leads the development of inclusive products and services. We make the same case here, but broaden the call to action. We invite everyone involved in commissioning, supporting and promoting enabling living to consider the person who they are helping and ask of themselves the questions: Would I use this? Is there enough assessable information available? If the answer is no to either then we don’t have a solution, we have a problem that the intended user doesn’t need.

So what’s needed to move things along? Well let’s share advice but consider this advice given by a spokesperson for Saga when talking about contactless cards –   “… people should use their contactless card wisely and only buy things they really need with it as it can be easy to get a bit too tap-happy with your bank or credit card” – well-intentioned but perhaps slightly patronising?

We need advice but more peer to peer discussion is necessary. We need to promote amongst ourselves a wider conversation on the pros and cons of enabling aids not only by those who use them but to include the voices of those who support others to use them.

New things are sometime better, not always, but quite often and we’ll never find out unless we get a more Purple attitude. We need to investigate the value of the products, the services and the opportunities being provided or presented and more importantly challenge ourselves to avoid a ‘beige’ existence and to live a ‘purple’ life! Get tapping away, one way or another you have nothing to lose!

Woman in her fifties using her laptop with a coffee - Dare To Be Purple

Don’t talk to me about sophistication, I’ve turned 50!

Everyone in the UK enjoys the benefits of a modern society. From the infrastructures built to move us between our homes, places of work and to and from our leisure pursuits, the technology we use to communicate further than we can shout and the appliances that help us eat, wash and generally live our lives. The list of modern aids we employ is endless. But through the labels ‘assistive technology’, ‘assisted living’ or ‘enabling aids’, these products or services are marked out as special, something for those that need help to live; the incomplete, the deficient, the elderly!

Why would any of us want something that inferred we were less of a person than our peers, no longer part of mainstream society?

Throughout life we all face changes in our circumstances, from leaving home, getting our own place, becoming married, starting a family, navigating a career and finally perhaps if we are lucky enough, retirement. At every one of these stages we use products, devices, services and structures to help us. None, absolutely none, are viewed as negative, until we call them assisted living this or enabling aid that!

Products and services foisted upon people as assisted living are not the latest smartphone or the newest tablet but narrow designs, aimed primarily at a homogenous population of ‘elderly’ which appear to have the sole aims of marking out users as less able, weaker, not independent or at worst dependent on others!

Then amazingly having designed something to exclude people manufacturers pick up the baton from the designer and market this ‘beige’ thinking to everyone over 50; the 30% of the UK population (and growing) that have been exposed to consumerism the longest: the people that hold 80% of the nation’s wealth and contribute over £300 billion of spending power each year and all set to grow given this same population have over £1 trillion of un-mortgaged equity and copper bottomed pensions they can now access to invest into personal income generating portfolios of rental property!

Do they think we are no longer sophisticated consumers with a taste (and an expensive one if we so choose) for the aesthetically pleasing and the well-formed, eye catching design?

Designers and manufacturers need to understand that the meaning and desirability of a product is important to everyone, especially the baby boomers those of us out there (born between 1946 – 1964), who invented consumerism. Not only did we invent it, we developed it into the animal it is today! Yes, a product needs to be functional and at a reasonable cost but the fundamental point is that it has to be inclusive – designed from a point of view that this is something everyone might use who has a need for it, something desirable, not just for a perceived population of elderly and incapable pensioners! This will however be a challenge as a recent report suggested that designers and manufacturers don’t even think a market exists below the age of 70!

If the design process is to be inclusive, a person with a shared need will be at the centre, resulting in the design, development and delivery of products and services that everyone with this need will want, regardless of age. But far from creating a desirable life enhancing image and something people may want to purchase and give house room, what we would call a Purple product, designers and manufacturers just jazz up walking sticks with flowery designs and feature young people holding ‘beige’ designs in their marketing brochures – why do we accept these token gestures, this patronising approach?

We all have a part to play if we want to change this. If designers don’t radically rethink who they are designing for and manufacturers don’t change their view of customers, from the frail and elderly and the volume hospital buyer then we’re only going to see a small market place of niche designers and manufacturers who get it. Those who value ‘Purple’ design and their customers but have to sell at the high end of the market due to a lack of consumer awareness and therefore demand. Whilst the majority create neglected beige products all with the pervasive whiff of discrimination and the stigma of hospitals and disability.

This won’t be good for anyone!

If we don’t all have access to Purple products more people will be injured through falls or other accidents because they will refuse to use their beige aids. This consequently means NHS resources expended at GP surgeries and hospitals, recuperation and recovery services being employed and the bitter twist; more beige products being dispensed to the recesses of our homes!

We all need to shape up and start to help each other learn more about what is out there. A lack of awareness coupled with a lack of influence means we are letting the uninformed lead the most sophisticated and commercially aware consumers ever in existence to social exclusion from a society that needs us, our spending power and our pathfinder approach, as night follows day they will follow us!

Purple is the colour of protest and celebration so join our Purple Community and whether you agree or disagree it doesn’t matter – just join the debate. Together we can bring to light and celebrate great Purple designers and awesome Purple manufacturers and together change the thinking of not only providers but perhaps ourselves; reclaiming our sophistication and daring once again to be Purple!