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Research indicates that as people get older, their movement control gets worse. This seems to be the case especially for using the computer, in particular controlling the computer mouse. Human factors can contribute to the solution for this problem by easier to use interfaces.


There are more and more older people, and less and less younger people. This causes many challenges in the public and private sectors. Human factors and ergonomics is a very good field to help solve these age-related problems in safety, mobility and well-being.

One of the main goals of design should be to enhance the daily lives of older individuals. Independence is what older people try to maintain. Using task analysis can be examined which kind of problems older people encounter, why these limitations exist and how they can be dealt with.

Research on human factors and older adults

A previous study showed that more than half of the problems that older people reported could be improved by human factors intervention. Also, almost all of the cognitive challenges could be improved by human factors intervention. For skills not involving complex devices, training alone seemed to be a good approach. For motor or sensory difficulties, redesign seemed best. For learning more complex devices, such as computers, combined redesign and training seemed most appropriate.

Safety and mobility

Transportation very much limited the activities of daily living for older people. They often have problems with bus steps, escalators, and not knowing their way around. A lot of research has already been done, for instance on visual attention, eye diseases and environmental design. Some very important and useful results have been found. For example, one study showed that highway environments can be modified through human factors to suit diverse populations of drivers that use the highway. Another example is the development of training programs that are able to reverse the decrease of the useful field of view.

Movement control and computers

Research indicates that as people get older, their movement control gets worse. This seems to be the case especially for using the computer, in particular controlling the computer mouse. Human factors can contribute to the solution for this problem by easier to use interfaces.

The future

Next steps for the field of human factors:

  • More research to gather information about the needs of older adults and the problems they have when interacting with products, devices, etc..

  • More data on specific aspects or demands of tasks that are problematic for older adults.

  • More research that specifies capabilities and limitations of older adults in terms of implications for system design parameters.

  • A principled approach t technology evaluation from the perspective of the older adult.

  • Specification of design of training programs to ensure that older adults can get the necessary skills to use systems.

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