Content starts here
Mar 29, 2018
AARP and Project Catalyst Explore Age 50+ Mindsets on Staying Socially Connected and Physically Mobile with Age
Design on Aging guides to help entrepreneurs design products and services focused on older adults’ needs and preferences
Booklets provide results of consumer research conducted by Project Catalyst, a collaboration among AARP, Pfizer, UnitedHealthcare and MedStar Health

WASHINGTON, DC—In a collaborative effort to support innovation and the well-being of seniors at risk of social isolation, AARP, IDEO and Project Catalyst have launched two design guides that provide practical insights and tools for entrepreneurs developing products and services for older adults. The two Design on Aging booklets, Connected Living and Independent Living, synthesize research into the mindsets of older adults and explore how to effectively design solutions that can help people stay socially connected and physically mobile as they age.

“These design guides dismantle many assumptions about older people’s motivation and encourage authentic design by incorporating and embracing older adults’ points of view,” said Alison Bryant, senior vice president of research, AARP. “As we look for workable ways to reduce social isolation, it is important to understand what inspires people and then deliver solutions that will resonate with them.”

The Design on Aging guide booklets were developed by IDEO with Project Catalyst, a pioneering research collaboration among AARP, UnitedHealthcare, Pfizer and MedStar Health.

The guides help inform entrepreneurs and organizations in the development of products and services for seniors by focusing on four overarching insights that surfaced in the research:

  • current marketing is not resonating;
  • the concept of physical and mental decline is more terrifying than death;
  • people age 50-plus are achieving healthy aging due to years of practice improvising solutions; and
  • seniors want emotional support from their loved ones and view caregiving services as best for household tasks.

The booklets highlight four “mindset profiles” that represent the motivations of people age 50 and over, including those at high risk of isolation. Each guide also provides practical design exercises to help innovators generate solutions that address these consumers’ motivations and needs.

Four design principles are the basis for the Design on Aging guides:

  • focus on people’s happiness and aspirations rather than assuming decline;
  • acknowledge that people feel younger than their age;
  • support each older adult’s individuality; and
  • enable and enhance a sense of agency or control.

The Connected Living and Independent Living design guides can be downloaded here.

# # #

About AARP
AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation's largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.

About Project Catalyst
Project Catalyst fills a gap in the market by putting the age 50-plus consumer at the center of innovation. By conducting consumer research of new and emerging products with the age 50-plus consumer, we help inform developers about how their products and services are working to improve the lives of Americans as they age. Founding partners include AARP, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, MedStar Health, Pfizer and UnitedHealthcare.

For further information: AARP Media Relations,, 202-434-2560, @AARPMedia