In addition to physical and perceptual changes, difficulties in interaction may also be caused by changes in how older adults mentally represent the objects near them.
In our book, Marketing to the Ageing Consumer, we reference the marketing implications of impaired hand-eye coordination on the age-friendliness of various consumer experiences. Simple acts like dialling a phone, operating a computer mouse or remote control device. Older people might increasingly find they fumble with keys in a lock or knock over the occasional wine glass.
While it’s easy to see these failings as a normal consequence of age-related breakdowns in agility, vision and other physical abilities, this report in Medical News Today cites new research from Washington University in St. Louis suggests that when young people move their hands to pick up an object, they remain aware of and sensitive to potential obstacles along the movement path. Older adults, on the other hand, tend to devote more attention to objects that are closer to their bodies – whether they are on the action path or not.
Knowing more about these ageing-related changes in spatial representation, may eventually inspire a rethink in product and retail design options. There may also be opportunities for skills training and other therapies to help seniors compensate for the cognitive declines that influence hand-eye coordination.