Designing medical packaging for seniors can be challenging. It requires looking at the packaging through both the needs of the senior, and a child too. Some of the considerations we might make when designing for seniors are counterintuitive to what we might utilize in child resistant packaging. If the medication is only for use by seniors and is not a toxic substance, designing for child resistance is not as critical, making the packaging is a lot easier to design—but this is almost never the case.
To design a package that is senior friendly and child resistant, you must manage a few key considerations:
1: The opening feature should require two-steps and written instructions. An example of a two-step feature would be bend and tear. This is considered child resistant because of the child’s inability to perform multiple steps and read directions.
2: Thought should be given to exceeding a child’s dexterity, strength, and palm span. What we mean by this is a function requiring a step in which their hands are too little, or they don’t have the strength to perform the step.
3: Keep in mind that children can and do use their teeth. Any puncture in a blister is considered a failure.
4: For seniors, anything that can be made bigger and easier to read is a plus. Many people in the senior community have arthritis and limited strength, both of which work against the need to also be child resistant.
To break it down, this process is like designing for day and night. Most packages err on the side of caution for child resistance, but fair worse on the senior side as a result. As an industry, we have a lot of room to improve in creating better senior-friendly packaging. Check out this Pharmaceutical Packaging Report card by Packaging Digest that rates the industry’s current designs for senior friendly packaging.