Aging by Design


What is possible when we create solutions with people, rather than for them? We’re interested in finding out, which is why we’ve launched Aging by Design, a program to improve the health of older adults that uses a process called Design Thinking.

Design Thinking is an approach to problem solving that puts the needs of people experiencing a problem at the core. It provides a toolkit for deeply understanding people’s needs and experiences, generating ideas to meet those needs, and then implementing innovative and practical solutions.

From some of our previous work and research around the needs of older adults, particularly those living in poverty, we learned that developing programs and interventions that reach this group of individuals can be challenging.

So this program is designed to spur creativity and innovation by supporting organizations who serve older adults in designing, testing and implementing new or re-imagined approaches to reducing Triggers of Decline such as falls, medication errors and lack of caregiver support.

But this is a new approach for our Foundation, so instead of asking for a traditional application or proposal, we asked interested organizations to first come to a Design Day workshop to learn about Design Thinking and how to apply it.

After Design Day, the Health Foundation and our interested community partners embarked on a six-month learning phase that will shape the future of Aging by Design, as well as other programs and funding opportunities.

During this learning phase, our community partners put what they learned at Design Day into action by working with the older adults they serve to capture their stories, experiences, needs and preferences.  Our partners received coaching and technical assistance throughout the process to ensure that they were comfortable and confident as they put their new skills to work.

At the end of the six months, community partners who participated in Design Day and contributed to the learning phase were invited to submit proposals for Aging by Design’s project planning phase. The 10 organizations selected for the project planning phase will apply what they learned through intensive training in design thinking to convene a project design team consisting of staff, volunteers and members of the community they serve. This team will produce prototypes that respond to and address the needs identified by older adults and caregivers.

Grantees will present their prototypes in spring 2018 and we will select projects to move ahead into the implementation phase starting in July 2018.

To meet our 10 grantee partners and learn more about each of them, click here.


Want to know more? Get staff perspectives, view training presentations and download resources at

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Design Day Workshop Presentation Slides

Needs and Insights Webinar Recording

Needs and Insights Webinar Slide Deck

Journaling Webinar Recording

Journaling Webinar Slide Deck


Aging by Design Empathy Map

Aging by Design Data Collection Tip Sheet