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The Elderly Alien Nation

The top challenges that over-65s face on a weekly basis include:

  • Loud pop music played in shops (61%)
  • Fashion items designed for a youth audience rather than older people (47%)
  • Type being too small e.g. forms (46%)
  • Those who push past older people who are slower on e.g. stairs/while walking (42%)
  • Large queues at supermarkets when doing the shopping (37%)

As a result of the findings, Barclays has worked with Produkt + Projekt to deploy “BESS” – the ‘Barclays Elderly Simulation Suit’. The outfit simulates what it’s like to live as an older member of society and experience the physical challenges that people with mobility impairments may face. The technology uses weights, limiting limb movement and artificially impairing hearing and sight.

To appreciate the challenges the elderly face, over 50 Barclays staff have trialled the age suit to test out branch, internet and telephone banking services. As a result, the bank has created a number of innovations to help older customers better access its services.

These include a variety of “High Visibility” debits cards as the bank found that visually impaired customers found it difficult to read card details when using telephone banking services and were the first high street bank in the UK to introduce “Audio Cash Machines” which enable customers with poor vision to use headphones to be guided through the services available at the banks’ ATMs.

As part of the banks inclusive design strategy, smaller changes have also been made such as introducing pens that are easier to grip for older people and hearing induction loops fitted in the counter of all branches as part of its on-going accessibility programme.

Ashok Vaswani, Chief Executive of Barclays Retail and Business Banking, said: “We have firm aspirations to be the UK’s most accessible and inclusive bank so for us it is about how we can make access to our business and workplace easier for everyone. Often it’s when you think about how to meet specific needs that you find solutions that help the widest range of people and customers, which is why we want to thread this thinking through every business decisions we make. This Age Suit activity is yet another example of how we can better understand the needs of our customers.”

Other interesting findings from the research found that:

  • The biggest challenge for elderly females on a weekly basis is that fashion items are increasingly designed for a younger rather than older audience (61%), compared to their male counterparts who feel that loud pop music played in shops is the biggest obstacle in their everyday life (62%)
  • The elderly’s attitude towards the accessibility of the high street varies across the county. The South West has the highest proportion of over 65’s who think that services in the UK are aimed at young people, rather than older members of society (71%) compared to the East Midlands where just over half (53%) have this view.

Full regional breakdown for percentage of over 65’s who feel that services in the UK are aimed at the young, rather than older member of society:


% of over 65’s who feel that services in the UK are aimed at the young, rather than older member of society

South West


North East


North West






Yorks and Humber


East of England


South East


West Midlands




East Midlands


For more information on Barclay’s accessibility drive and how the bank are creating products and services to help mitigate the challenges the elderly face visit


Notes to editors

  1. Figures based on Mid-2012 Population Estimate UK Office for National Statistics, 8 August 2013
  2. Research carried out by Opinium amongst a nationally representative sample of 1,095 UK adults aged 65 and over. Field research carried out between 11th – 21st October 2013

Barclays Digital Eagles

Barclays has now created over 3,500 “Digital Eagles” in its branches across the UK. The Digital Eagles will help first-time or novice internet users to understand how the internet and using the latest apps can enhance their daily lives, whether that’s using Skype or Facebook to stay in touch with family and friends, catching up on the latest episode of their favourite soap opera, shopping online or understanding how they can use the latest technology to manage their money.

Alongside the Digital Eagles programme, Barclays recently partnered with the leading UK Charity for older people, Age UK to pilot five taster sessions in Barclays branches across five locations, followed by some in-depth courses. The sessions helped older people to learn the skills they need to get online and highlight the importance that Age UK and Barclays place on getting everyone up to speed on digital technology.

Barclays Online Banking

Online Banking is a safe, secure and easy way to manage your money via the internet. You can check your balance, make transactions and do most of your everyday banking – all from the convenience of your home, coffee shop or abroad, at a time that suits you. All you need is internet access and a Barclays account.

Barclays Pingit

Send and receive money using just your mobile. Send money to anyone – they don't have to bank at Barclays. Free to download and use. Sending money is secure and instant.

Barclays Mobile Banking

Access your accounts on your mobile phone browser whenever and wherever you like. You can also use Mobile Banking to find your nearest branch or ATM while you're out and about. It's free and fully secure 1.