Strategy, UX/UI, Branding, Integrated

Making planning for old age easier for everyone

ABOUT THE PROJECT

I have senior parents who need more care than they’re getting, but when I try and talk to them I hit a wall. Many people can relate. The dynamics between adult children and aging parents is often challenging. I wanted to understand why, then develop a supportive and effective tool to help make the process easier.

Scope of work

Research

  • Secondary Research
  • Observation
  • 1 – 1 Interviews

Strategy

  • Affinity Map
  • User Persona
  • Empathy Map
  • Problem Statement
  • Ideation
  • Storyboarding

UX Design

  • User Flow
  • Site Map
  • Wireframes
  • Prototype
  • Usability Testing

UI Design

  • Visual Design
  • Key Templates
  • UI Kit

SUMMARY

It starts when a parent falls, has a heart attack, loses their spouse, grows noticeably forgetful. One of their children starts googling. Terms like “elder care”, “my parent needs help”, “aging in place”. They find information on financial and advanced care planning, caregiver support and coordination, and assisted living. Sorting through it and trying to help their parents make decisions is an overwhelming, frustrating process met with a lot of resistance. Talking becomes arguing. Parents stop sharing honestly about their health. Everyone feels like they’re failing.

My research showed an unmet need for an empathy and communication tool that goes beyond the practical planning aspects of aging. This is a deeply emotional issue. Parents feel out of control and so do their children. The burden of care is often heavier for one child over the others. And many parents haven’t adequately prepared for this stage of life.

Since most people face similar challenges, I created a simple process for them to discuss topics, make decisions and build a plan together. In this phase, I developed the first section called ‘Talk Together’. It’s designed around a series of templated topics that are common to users and provides a framework to share concerns, goals and tasks.

PROCESS

Research

I wanted to understand how adult children navigate the challenges of caring for aging parents, so primary and observational research was key. I spoke with 6 women, 3 men, and 1 geriatric social worker and conducted research in 2 rounds.

Most children have intense feelings about their parent’s aging — primarily frustration, guilt, anxiety, and confusion. The challenges they face are varied and common. Some parents refuse to use walkers or canes because they don’t want to be seen as “old”, so they fall a lot or develop conditions from lack of exercise. One user’s mother won’t leave her apartment anymore. Another can’t get her father to stop driving despite having no vision in one eye and getting into regular fender benders. Several said their parent’s no longer clean the house properly or eat healthy food. Yet the only help they’ll accept — if they accept help — is from their children.

“She doesn’t want anyone to see her aging, losing strength, losing beauty, not capable of doing things for herself.”

As a parent’s health declines and friends pass, their world contracts so there’s more burden on children.Only one person said she and her siblings use a care coordination app and equally share the responsibilities of caregiving. In most cases, it falls on one child — usually the daughter — who left juggling the demands of cargiving for her parent and sacrificing her own needs. Two users have stopped working altogether to be full-time caregivers. The rest take time off work, rotate visits with their siblings and use their free time to care for their parents as needs arise.

“I wake up every morning and think, ‘Okay what do I triage? What has happened and what can be put off?’”

Lack of open conversation and planning makes aging a reactive process that everyone finds frustrating and tiresome. Everyone wants a way to talk more openly and honestly with their parent, so long as it’s respectful and kind. They need advice to understand the road blocks their parents are throwing up and ways to overcome them. They seek solutions for caregiving that can work for everyone in their family. And they want to learn how other people in their situation faced similar challenges.

 Strategy

First I built a user persona and empathy map based on my findings.

Research showed a broad range of problems, so it was key that I narrow my focus. Most users were stressed and anxious, because they lacked a way to make an actionable plan with their parents. That helped me define a problem statement:

How might we help children with aging parents create and implement a plan to care for them that works for the whole family?

The solution would be inclusive of everyone’s needs, facilitate open conversation, provide resources and help users build actionable plans. I used these goals to guide my ideation.

I was looking for a simple process that would be easy to follow. So I took the best of my ideas and storyboarded a scenario where a user’s parent has had a fall and needs to talk about it with her family.

 UX Design

I needed to determine 3 user flows for the first section of the app: One for a user who is setting up a talk with her family; one for a family member who has the app and gets a text about a talk; and a third for someone who gets a text about a talk and doesn’t have the app installed.

I made a sitemap next to further organize the functionality and content for the app.

Then I designed low-fidelity wireframes in Sketch, built a prototype in InVision and conducted screenshare usability testing with 8 users. The prototype had 3 distinct tasks for the first section:

1. Onboard and initiate a conversation
2. Open an invitation, review concerns and goals, add 1 concern and share with the group
3. Have the conversation, assign a task to a group member and share feedback

Everyone liked where it was heading and were able to complete the tasks. Lots of additional ideas were generated, which I’ll discuss in the reflection section.

UI Design

Because I was designing for mid-aged adults and seniors, simplicity was key to the visual design. I chose colors and typography that are bright, clear and friendly. Photos of people connecting helped humanize the experience. The logo shows the results that happen when people talk and work together.

The result is intuitive and easy to understand. Users are taken through the process step by step, with places for people to share their feelings with each other. The experience is supportive and collaborative.

Key Screens + Partial UI Kit

REFLECTION

This has been one of the more rewarding project I’ve worked on, and there’s a lot of work left to do beyond designing the other sections. A few users wanted to dial up community involvement, where users can learn more directly from each other. People feel urgency to solve things, and it’s understandable. So more research. Also I need to conduct primary research with seniors. Many don’t use smartphones or computers. That won’t be an issue in 10 years, but it’s a key problem to solve now.

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