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Challenging assumptions : Older people's attitudes to technology and cooking

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This presentation reports initial results from a series of focus groups run with older adults in York, UK. Participants were invited to bring along their favourite kitchen utensil and their least …

This presentation reports initial results from a series of focus groups run with older adults in York, UK. Participants were invited to bring along their favourite kitchen utensil and their least favourite. We talked about how they planned and prepared their meals and what technologies helped and hindered in the kitchen.


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  • Ring pulls on “tins of sardines, can never open”
    vitamin tablet bottles

  • Ring pulls on “tins of sardines, can never open”
    vitamin tablet bottles














  • Transcript

    • 1. Challenging Assumptions Older people’s attitudes to technology and cooking
    • 2. Assumptions
    • 3. Assumptions 1. Eat traditional meals
    • 4. Assumptions 1. Eat traditional meals 2. Find shopping difficult
    • 5. Assumptions 1. Eat traditional meals 2. Find shopping difficult 3. Have grip and lifting problems
    • 6. Assumptions 1. Eat traditional meals 2. Find shopping difficult 3. Have grip and lifting problems 4. Have difficulties with modern kitchen technology
    • 7. Assumptions 1. Eat traditional meals 2. Find shopping difficult 3. Have grip and lifting problems 4. Have difficulties with modern kitchen technology 5. Find cooking-for-one a problem
    • 8. Participants
    • 9. Participants 4 men, 11 women; 8 live alone, 7 with spouse
    • 10. Participants 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 60-69 70-79 80+ Men Women 4 men, 11 women; 8 live alone, 7 with spouse
    • 11. Participants 7 7 6 6 5 5 4 4 3 3 2 2 1 1 0 0 60-69 70-79 80+ 60-69 70-79 80+ Men Women Live alone With partner 4 men, 11 women; 8 live alone, 7 with spouse
    • 12. Feedback and the future
    • 13. Feedback and the future Positive, enjoyable experience
    • 14. Feedback and the future Positive, enjoyable experience Requests for updates about research
    • 15. Feedback and the future Positive, enjoyable experience Requests for updates about research Spontaneous recipe
    • 16. Boring, traditional meals?
    • 17. Boring, traditional meals? “we like simple food, fairly traditional..maybe a bit boring but satisfying”
    • 18. Boring, traditional meals? “we like simple food, fairly traditional..maybe a bit boring but satisfying” “I have a wok and being well travelled, that is living overseas, then I eat what other people think is exotic”
    • 19. Soup, glorious soup
    • 20. Soup, glorious soup “light lunch, almost always homemade soup”
    • 21. Soup, glorious soup “light lunch, almost always homemade soup” “I make a lot of soups so I’m starting with fresh vegetables”
    • 22. Soup, glorious soup “light lunch, almost always homemade soup” “I make a lot of soups so I’m starting with fresh vegetables” “things you can just throw together, like soups and breads...”
    • 23. Soup, glorious soup “light lunch, almost always homemade soup” “I make a lot of soups so I’m starting with fresh vegetables” “things you can just throw together, like soups and breads...” “I make whatever I’ve got in the fridge, when things are past their best I’ll make soup”
    • 24. Soup, glorious soup “light lunch, almost always homemade soup” “I make a lot of soups so I’m starting with fresh vegetables” “things you can just throw together, like soups and breads...” “I make whatever I’ve got in the fridge, when things are past their best I’ll make soup” “I think if you use left over then you get a different meal the day after which is fascinating, soup if all else fails”
    • 25. Soup saviour
    • 26. Shopping - city living
    • 27. Shopping - city living “two good greengrocers, and butchers and a deli so as I walk along I buy what looks good and fresh on the day”
    • 28. Shopping - city living “two good greengrocers, and butchers and a deli so as I walk along I buy what looks good and fresh on the day” “I’m still mobile and I have a vehicle, I can shop wherever I fancy and so I do, it’s always fresh food”
    • 29. Shopping - country living Village living and bus transport Knee operations, walking with sticks
    • 30. Grip and lifting problems I’ve got “not very straight fingers, and haven’t got much grip” “I’ve got some grip, but you know, when you’re on your own...”
    • 31. Opening stuff
    • 32. Opening stuff “tops of milk bottles… tiny little grip breaks off and end up attacking it with a knife”
    • 33. Opening stuff “tops of milk bottles… tiny little grip breaks off and end up attacking it with a knife” wine box seals and “that plastic thing on the top” of wine bottles meaning you have to “scrabble with the knife and then knife slips and cuts you”
    • 34. Jar openers
    • 35. Jar openers “It’s brilliant, I think you’ve got to concentrate while you use to do it properly”
    • 36. Jar openers “It’s brilliant, I think you’ve got to concentrate while you use to do it properly” “If you’ve got a husband you wouldn’t want to use it because it’s fiddly...”
    • 37. Vegetable peelers
    • 38. Kitchen technology
    • 39. Kitchen technology “looking at scales is a nightmare, I always get it wrong so I just prefer things I can judge”
    • 40. Kitchen technology “looking at scales is a nightmare, I always get it wrong so I just prefer things I can judge” “nowadays I use the microwave” to make custard - sometimes make mistakes with the time
    • 41. Cooking for one “since I’ve been on my own I’ve been experimenting more because I think that it doesn’t matter, I’m only cooking for me...”
    • 42. Cooking for one “I do cook meals, I think they always did, even when I was first on my own, and very lost, I was always in the habit of having regular meals so I kind of went on”
    • 43. Cooking for one Cooking for one is waste of resources So cook for more and plan ahead
    • 44. Findings 1. Meals are traditional & adventurous 2. Shopping is leisurely, fun & needs planning 3. Grip is a problems 4. Visual interfaces a problem 5. Cooking for one is liberating & needs planning
    • 45. Limitations
    • 46. Limitations Self selected participants
    • 47. Limitations Self selected participants Recruited from U3A, YOPA
    • 48. Limitations Self selected participants Recruited from U3A, YOPA Group dynamics
    • 49. The end, of the beginning...