OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Michael's Misery

An interview that lent good insight

Photo of Siddhartha Kapali
0 0

Written by

This is the story of Michael, a 69 year old man who lives in Brooklyn (NYC) with his kids, the youngest being about 16 and the oldest about 35. He lost his wife to a head burst because of a fall in the bathroom, which has made him phobic of falls ever since. 


Michael is a person who is suffering from a lot more ailments than a person of his age normally does. He is diabetic, has already had two heart attacks, cannot see and hear from one side and is partially blind and deaf on the other side too. Moreover, he cannot walk much and he's afraid of moving about too much, fearing that he would be more susceptible to falling if he does so. His lack of eyesight and hearing disables his abilities to move confidently and often throws him off balance. 

He fell on numerous occasions, until him and his kids finally decided to avoid walking as much as possible and resorted to a wheelchair. He recounted a fall in which he was moving in his wheelchair, all by himself and he misjudged a pothole for something else, causing him to go tumbling down into it. He was pulled out by an apparently drunk man, who was kind and ironically sober enough to pull his car aside and help the man out of the pit. He stopped going out on his own ever since that day, and is mostly accompanied by one of his three kids, who take excellent care of him. 

He exercises daily, mostly physiotherapy and makes sure that he doesn't lose the flexibility and usability of his working body parts. He prefers to stay indoors, apart from the occasional sunlight strolls, as he cannot seem to bear the idea of falling on concrete surfaces. The other falls have occurred at his home have always been rescued from by his children.

Upon being asked if he would be willing to take measures to ensure his safety from falls, Michael gave a beaming nod to the idea; though he said that he would have to assess the comfortability of the usage of any new product before he could whole-heartedly accept it. After watching the video of what the product might look and work like, he seemed more welcoming and at ease. He was also concerned if the insurance coverage would pay for any product or service that he might have to purchase to protect himself. 

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

Michael didn't seem open to radical changes in his routine, though he championed incremental ones; which was somewhat of a common trait that I observed in a lot of aged people. This kind of shapes up the kind of product or service that we might want to design, and also bridging the gap of misunderstood notions by a medium of proper education and awareness about age related problems.

Tell us about your work experience:

I am a graduate student at NYU, background in Management of Technology. I worked for one year as a maintenance engineer and operations supervisor in a textile (design and production) firm.


Join the conversation: