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Meet Norma from Liverpool, England

We have talked to some of our most experienced rollator travelers and asked them to share their experience and travel tips. 

This is Norma’s story:

I have lost count of the number of times I’ve been looking at past photographs and uttered; “If only I had the rollator then!”
This was never more so than when being on vacation and standing literally on unfamiliar ground!

In one picture, I am at Central Wharf in Boston, Massachusetts, leaning against a sculpture trying to make it look like a natural pose – cane hidden behind me, when in fact my back was aching from trailing through the New England Aquarium, leaning on a walking stick for support.

Then in Providence, on a quest at whale watching, I sported a pair of bruised knees fresher than the whales I hoped to see, when I tripped. There were other vacations with similar limited mobility; on cruise ships, Cape Cod, New York, South Island NZ, Western AU, Bali, Sicily, Scotland etc. The walking stick was not adequate, and some opportunities were lost and maybe never to be regained – but now I am wiser with experience.

I still have to experience a long-haul flight with my rollator. However, we travel extensively throughout the U.K and I also have family in Malta whom I visit throughout the year. Therefore, I hope I can help dispense with some of your travelling concerns with the following tips.

Norma’s travel tips

Before traveling:

  1. When booking your flight: Include the “assistance to aircraft seat” if you are unable to mount the steps and require the ambulift. You can also request a wheelchair; then you can check-in the folded & tagged rollator earlier, along with your luggage. I prefer to keep my rollator till the last minute.
  2. Check that your travel insurance includes the full replacement of the rollator, obtained in writing.
  3. When booking accommodation, restaurants, coach tours: mention that you have a folding rollator/walker, if there are steps/stairs to negotiate & if lift service is available etc.
  4. Practice the process in beforehand at home: collapsing the rollator i.e. lowering the handle bars, swerving the front wheels inwards, placing it correctly in the travel bag and zipping it up.

During traveling:

  1. At the check-in counter, request a separate baggage tag for your rollator, since it must be stored in the aircraft hold along with other luggage. I affix this tag on the shorter hand grip, not the strap, on the byACRE travel bag (along the personal name tag). Ensure you get the receipt and place it somewhere safe & accessible, eg back cover of passport. You should also be informed where to meet your assistant to help you with boarding.
  2. If you’re going to travel alone, I strongly advise to be “hands free”. I bring my byACRE travel bag folded in the weekend bag (that can detach effortlessly from the rollator).
  3. You can keep the rollator right up to boarding the aircraft via airbridge or ambulift. The folded rollator is then handed to an assistant, either at the entrance to airbridge (along with baby strollers etc.) or to the ambulift assistant. My tip is to have a walking cane at hand, while waiting to board.
 

Meet Yvonne from North Ireland

We have talked to some of our most experienced rollator travelers and asked them to share their experience and travel tips. 

This is Yvonne’s story:

I am from Northern Ireland and I travel with my rollator every few months, but I use it daily when I walk my morning mile for exercise.

I love road trips. We travel by ferry and car often to see my son in Liverpool. I love that I can use my rollator when I’m stiff to get out for breaks, walk and stretch my legs on long journeys. I always use it when we’re out for dinner at restaurants and are out socialising. I’ve even used it at a family wedding, so that I could mingle without clinging on to my husband. It gives super independence, since I can keep up with my family without limits with it.

I have travelled to USA, Canada, UK, Ireland and Spain – honestly everywhere is so accessible nowadays so you can live without limits.

I’m never embarrassed to use my rollator, because my enthusiasm to live my life is greater than me feeling self conscious. Honestly people do not even notice, if they do, it’s always very positive comments. I’ve been told more than once on my daily walk that I’m an inspiration. I was so happy that I can encourage others.

Yvonne’s travel tips: 

  1. Invest in the travel bag. Put luggage labels on it.  It has been a godsend for flights and road trips to protect my byACRE, Carbon Ultralight. I am able to walk to the steps of the aircraft and put my rollator in the travel bag where it is then put into the hold. It is then waiting on me after the flight either at the bottom of the steps or on the luggage conveyor belt.
  2. Book special assistance at the airport, because it is superb. Do not be embarrassed or imagine you don’t need it because it makes such a difference. No standing in queues, because you’ll be escorted straight through passport control etc.
  3. Request a ground floor hotel room or apartment if available at your resort. We recently were in the Canary Islands and I could walk (with rollator) straight from my ground floor terrace around the resort, without waiting around for lifts during busy season with young families who also needed lifts with prams etc.
 

Meet Elizabeth from New York, USA

We have talked to some of our most experienced rollator travelers and asked them to share their experience and travel tips. 

This is Elizabeth’s story:

According to my DNA story I am 22%, almost one-quarter Swedish. This heredity comes from my great-grandmother, Agnes Hildegard Helena Landerholm who was born on February 4, 1880, in Kimstad, Östergötland, Sweden. Agnes was three months old when she set sail with her father Anders (my great-great grandfather), her mother Thilda, and her older sister Emma, on the Marsdin headed to Hull, England, then on to Elllis Island, New York, landing 24 May 1880. Growing up in Connecticut, at 26 years old Agnes Hildegard Helena Landerholm married my great-grandfather, William Henry Jones, June 12, 1906.

One-hundred and forty-one years after Agnes’s arrival to New York, her great-grand daughter, Elizabeth Ann Jones is flying to Sweden for the fifth time.

The beginning of May, 2021, during a FaceTime chat with Anna-Lena and Liselotte, two of my long-time, Swedish friends, they tell me they are moving to a new home in Mölle. They invite me to stay and suggest that I fly to Copenhagen in Denmark, which is closer to Mölle. I enthusiastically purchase my Scandinavian Airlines tickets to and from Kastrup.

Now, my tickets are purchased. Next, how am I going to get to and from the airport? When I find the drive from Mölle to Kastrup is 90 minutes, I send an email to Maria, my contact at byACRE, to see if she would meet me for coffee (kaffe) near the dock, where the ferry comes in from Sweden. Maria emails back; when she told her colleagues I was flying in with the Carbon Ultralight and wanted to meet for kaffe, it was quickly decided she and Anders would pick me up at Kastrup with my new Carbon Overland. In the mean time I text Anna-Lena to let her know I will be having kaffe near the ferry so they don’t have to drive all the way to the airport. Anna-Lena replies they are coming in to Copenhagen the night before and staying at the Hotel Ottilia, in Carlsberg City. This is to make it easier to pick me up at Kastrup in the morning.

Everyone should have my worries; too many people picking me up at the airport in Copenhagen.

I arrive. I am first told to head to the back of the plane to exit. Then I’m told the front is where a wheel chair will be, then the back, again. Finally headed in the right direction,  with the pilot now following behind, I see a large man with a yellow vest, a man called Oskar. Oskar takes my backpack and I take his arm as we descend the stairs. We walk across the tarmac and “taking my time”. We go up another flight of stairs to the airport, and into a wheelchair. Oskar pushes me to a golf cart, where I transfer, and then we are off to baggage claim. After a while I spot my checked bag. Oskar loads everything including my byACRE Carbon Ultralight onto the luggage cart. With one hand Oskar is  pushing the wheelchair and with his other hand he pushes the cart.

Outside I hear a voice calling my name. I turn to meet Maria and my new ByACRE Carbon Overland. I stand and grab hold of my new Overland, then Maria. Together we cross the street to find and meet Anders Berggreen, the designer/founder of ByACRE. They explain to me they each brought their cars because Anders cars won’t fit my luggage and/or the two byACRE’s. So, I will ride with Anders and Maria will take all the luggage. It turns out  Anders’ car is a Jag 1974 convertible and I’m imagining I’m Audrey Hepburn, wishing I had a Givanchy head scarf as we steer to the Hotel Ottilia, in Carlsberg City.

At Hotel Ottilia we make our way up to Tramonto Rooftop. We find a table on the terrace with a splendid, 360-degree view of the District below. We are surrounded by a small hop gardens, of course, and Anna-Lena and Lisa joins us. I’m absolutely over the moon to see two of my dearest friends of, is it, twenty-five years, who I have not seen in over two years.

Waking up in Mölle. The distant sound of boat engines, busy seagull trills, water lapping over stones, chimes of sail boat cleats tapping masts. Listening, reclined on the gray wood deck and sipping espresso, I’m surprised to see 5 or 6 surfers. Yes, there are waves, not Maui sized but good sized swells. The question is, do those surfers have those boards leaning in between their cross country skis and their dog sleds?

Surfs up, in Sweden!

Turns out Mölle is fifth in line for Sweden’s surfing hot-spots. Too bad, I left my surfboard in NYC. Instead, the girls have rented a golf cart. I’m happy to tour Mölle a la cart, with my Overland strapped on the back.

We end up at Ransvik Havsveranda for lunch. I board the outdoor escalator that descends the hill to the café with a beautiful view of the Sound. Lisa and Anna-Lena greet me at the bottom with the Overland and we find a table. We order Hernö Gin & Tonics and Kallrökt Lax på Rågbröd.

The next evening a stunning yacht sails across the horizon. It’s Anna-Lena’s brother, Mikael’s, Swan 77 Tugela. The next thing I know I make my way with my Carbon Overland down along the side of the house to the golf cart brought by Ivan, Anna-Lena and Lisa’s eldest. We head to the dock, where I am lifted on to an RIB that takes me to Tugela and I am carefully lifted and maneuvered on board. Once we are settled in the cabin, we sip champagne.

Elizabeth’s travel tips: 

  1. Call airline ahead of time
  2. Ask for assistance to get to the gate
  3. Bring your ByAcre and check at the gate
  4. Using a backpack instead of a tote or purse,
    as your personal bag
  5. Be patient with yourself and others
  6. Have a wonderful time
 

Meet Verna from Austin, Texas

We have talked to some of our most experienced rollator travelers and asked them to share their experience and travel tips. 

This is Verna’s story:

Verna is an artist from Austin, Texas in USA. Her artistry started when she was 34, after she got diagnosed with MS:

“I have been painting since 1998. When I was 32 I had a life altering experience. Through painting I have found a way to give completely of myself. It shows those I love, who I am, how I feel, and fully exposes my heart. This gives me peace.

I began painting at 34, I was drawn to colors, flowers, life…..I’ve been looking for answers as to why I have suddenly been given this gift. What can I do with it to make a difference?”

Today, her beautiful flower oil- paintings takes her traveling all over the country.

“Travel has been very easy and enjoyable with my byACRE rollator. Pat (my rollator) has been my amazing assistant! So lightweight, agile, and can travel anywhere. I get to be independent – I love it.

The last trip I did was to Orlando, when I was transporting oil paintings to a customer. Our future trips to Albuquerque, NM and Sedona, AZ are similar. In Jan 2023 we are taking a trip to Maui, Hawaii. I have checked with my airline and I will be able to use my rollator the entire walk to the entrance of the plane. At that point I will quickly pack it in the travel bag and they will put it in the cargo storage for the flight. Upon landing I will get it from the cargo hull and when we land in Maui, I will unpack the rollator – and off I go to a tropical paradise.

I’m so excited! Thanks to my byACRE rollator and Travel bag, I still have the freedom to travel the world.”

Verna’s travel tips: 

  1. Get a note from your Dr. about why you need a rollator. Laminate the note and attach it to the travel bag. Have an extra for your reference, just in case. 
  2. Label your rollator “Fragile Handle with Care” with your contact information. 
  3. Practice getting the rollator packed quickly. Practice practice. 
  4. Travel with a friend if possible, two is better than one. 
  5. Enjoy and relax. It’s easy to do. Safe travels. 
 

Three lessons from disrupting an industry

In relation to winning the FedEx Small Business Grand Prize, FedEx came to our office and interviewed our CEO Anders Berggreen. In this interview, he explains the beginning of byACRE and shares his top three lessons from disrupting an industry:

Three lessons from disrupting an industry

Going from producing film and TV series to designing innovative mobility aids might not seem like a logical career path, but that’s the move made by Anders Berggreen, CEO of byACRE.

The Copenhagen-based business, which was recently named the grand prize winner of the FedEx Small Business Grant 2021, was co-founded by Berggreen and COO Susanne Nørmark in 2015. However, it wasn’t until later that they came up with the idea for the design-led, carbon-fibre rollators – four-wheeled walking aids – that the company produces today.

The idea was the result of a chance meeting with the CEO of another rollator manufacturer at a product fair, where Berggreen was showing a different product. He soon found that he was seeing rollators everywhere he looked – but that they all looked the same.

“I thought about my father, who died of Parkinson’s. My grandma was 97 and she never felt old. [I thought] why can’t we make something cool for them? Let’s see if we can do something to reverse the perception of what a rollator is.”

He also spotted a business opportunity. The global mobility aid devices market was worth an estimated $7.8bn in 2020 and is set to increase to $9.9bn by 2028.1 But Berggreen argues that booming demand is also making existing businesses in the space lazy. “They’re growing like crazy, these stores. Turnover is going up and up,” he says.

Yet launching a new business with a product that disrupts the status quo comes with its share of challenges. A key hurdle is convincing people of the need to do things differently. Securing funding from the bank was a challenge, and persuading retailers to stock the products wasn’t easy either. “They didn’t believe in us,” he explains. “We tried to go through retailers, but they were very resistant.”

Despite the difficulties, Berggreen and Nørmark have built byACRE into a thriving global business. Here are some of the lessons they’ve learned about what it takes to be a disruptor.

1. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes

Once they started paying attention to the rollator market, Berggreen and Nørmark quickly realised where it was falling short.

“It was obvious there was a lack of design in this industry,” Berggreen explains. “We very quickly found out that was because the way [the existing companies] looked at users was as patients – not people with hopes and dreams.”

Berggreen and Nørmark saw there was a market for a rollator designed for consumers who needed mobility aids but still wanted to travel, go out with family and friends, and generally live an active life. “We simply took age out of the equation,” he explains.

 

Top tip

To find out what is most important to your customers, just ask them. Berggreen and his team took to the streets and asked people what they ideally wanted from a mobility device, or what they liked and disliked about the rollator they currently owned. “And then they opened up,” says Berggreen. “That discussion grew and [we became] able to paint a picture of what was needed.”

 

2. Look outside the industry for design inspiration

Rather than looking at existing rollator designs and finding ways to improve them, the byAcre team took a different approach to designing their prototype. Berggreen explains that he wanted byAcre’s rollator to communicate “activeness” so, as a starting point, he filled a wall with pictures of things that had an active appearance, from sharks and eagles to sports cars and fighter jets.

“When you looked at the wall you could see this organic shape, so we thought that we have to create something that has this organic shape. That’s how the design came out,” he explains. “It was a very good process; I could sit there with my engineers and say, ‘is it active?’”

 

Top tip

“For redesigning a product, don’t listen to the trade,” advises Berggreen. “Or if you do, remember there’s a lot of bias.” He explains how, in byAcre’s early days, retailers regularly told him that consumers weren’t interested in the type of product he was showing, or wouldn’t be prepared to pay its price point – which was the opposite of what the team was hearing from consumers. “If you want to innovate, doing it together with trade is difficult, almost impossible. You can deal with the trade later,” he says.

 

3. Find and nurture your early adopters

While a large proportion of customers that need a mobility device are older people, the byAcre team realised their products were also becoming popular with a younger – and social media savvy – demographic as well.

But developing a strong online presence was always an important part of byAcre’s strategy. “Buying a rollator is a very big decision and it’s very private. Our theory was that people would start doing their research on the net,” he says.

Berggreen says that disability advocates and bloggers who post pictures of themselves going about their lives with their byAcre rollators have been among the company’s most important ambassadors, with their enthusiasm for the brand helping to spread the word.

Building the byAcre name this way translated into real-world demand, too, with customers asking in stores for products they’d seen online, Berggreen says. “Then it started to spread.”

 

Top tip

When launching a disruptive product, Berggreen says, “just be extremely persistent”. Winning over core consumers early on helped the byAcre team to convince retailers to stock their rollators.

 

 

Source: FedEx – byACRE: Three lessons from disrupting an industry –  April 2022

 

Meet Michael from South Carolina, USA

We have asked MS warriors to share their experience with MS and having a rollator.

This is Michael’s story:

Michael first got MS in 2004, but after an attack in 2009 his walking ability has been on a slow decline. He started using a cane in 2016, two canes in 2018, and a rollator in 2020. The rollator was hard to accept at first, but he needed something sturdier and searched for “cool rollators” and came across our Carbon Ultralight. It helped, in his words, an “image conscious 33 year old”.

During Michaels journey, he has been on five different DMT and explored and implemented diet changes, exercises and alternative therapies. He explains that each element has had pros and cons (and varying degrees of effectiveness), but that he overall remains thankful for the opportunities and hopeful for better days!

Talking about better days, during MS awareness month 2022, Michael got married to his wife, Victoria! He describes her as “an amazing person with a huge heart and a big smile, that inspires me everyday”. Even though Michael is now mainly using a wheelchair, he used his rollator to stand tall and meet her by the altar.

“For my upcoming nuptials, although we will be sitting for most of the ceremony, I plan to stand proudly while my bride walks down the aisle, using my byACRE”

– Michael on how he planned to use his rollator at his wedding

Michael’s best rollator tips:

  1. Stay positive! That doesn’t mean hide how you’re feeling if you’re feeling down, allow yourself some grace, but I’ve found success treating MS as a problem I need to do my part to solve… Or at least tolerate and compartmentalize 😉
    It is not your whole world, you are “worth” just as much as before your diagnosis.
  2. Build a great team. This means family, friends, community, and medical. Have open and frank conversations about what you can do in life, and what you need a little help or understanding with. Stay engaged in your community, including the local MS community, it will be rewarding. And medically, I highly recommend finding care from a MS specialist neurologist, and/or medical institution or university. They should be able to provide you with a high degree of personalized care.
  3. Explore all the alternative/complementary therapies there are – but stay on the meds. After my first four relatively controlled years, I decided to take a break from my DMT. I went back on it after about six months, but my slow decline in walking ability had started in those months. I have found tremendous help from eating a clean diet (or trying to), vitamin d, probiotics, cbd, acupuncture, massage, etc.
 

Meet Tara from Colorado, USA

We have asked MS warriors to share their experience with MS and having a rollator.

This is Tara’s story:

“I started showing MS symptoms in 2012, after the birth of my second daughter. I started using a rollator in 2016. At first, I only used it at home, and I was really embarrassed about needing a mobility aid in my 30’s.

At first, using a rollator was hard to accept. It felt overwhelming to be losing my mobility due to MS at the same time I was raising a young family. Over time I realized that using a rollator made it easier for me to be a better wife and mother because I could do more with less effort. I had only used a cane a few times, so using a rollator was a big adjustment, but also a big help.

I use a rollator every day when I am on my feet. I also use a wheelchair sometimes now, but my rollator is still one of my most frequently used mobility aids.

Using a rollator has changed my life for the better. I am able to accomplish more things and stay on my feet longer when I use it. I’m also able to get outside and enjoy activities with my family more often. Learning to use a rollator has been one of the most helpful tools along my MS journey.”

“Over time I realized that using a rollator made it easier for me to be a better wife and mother because I could do more with less effort”

– Tara on starting to use her rollator more publicly

Tara’s best rollator tips:

  1. View your rollator as a tool that helps you to live better.
    Maybe even call it an “accessory”.
  2. Wear clothing that you feel confident in.
    When you stand tall and feel good about yourself, a rollator is easier to use.
  3. Give yourself grace. It can take time to adjust to a new MS diagnosis and/or using a mobility aid. It will get easier!
 

Meet Nora from North Carolina, USA

We have asked MS warriors to share their experience with MS and having a rollator.

This is Nora’s story:

Nora has had MS symptoms since she was in her 20s, starting with affecting her vision. She didn’t have any mobility issues until her 30s, when she began to have tingling in her left leg for months and could barely walk. She then got physical therapy to learn to walk with a cane.

This cane stayed with her for a long time. Too long.
It was a mobility aid that she outgrew, but continued using to “look less disabled”, which it didn’t. And whilst trying to look cool, she waisted so much energy that she could have spent on her loved ones. This realization helped her to borrow an old rollator, which then started her search for a better one. That’s how she found us!

One of Nora’s best MS tips, that changed her life, is “my body isn’t me”. When people saw her struggle one day more than the other, they would say “I see you’re having a bad day”. That made her realize that no, that is her body having a bad day, not her. She refuses to let her unpredictable body determent if she’s having a good or a bad day. That’s to her mind to decide.

“It is not just what I need, it is what I need to project to the rest of the world”

– Nora on how a mobility aid creates awareness for others

Nora’s best MS tips:

  1. My body isn’t ME! People ask if I am having a “Bad Day” when they see me struggling with physical MS symptoms. I let them know I refuse to let how I am doing as a person to be based on how well my body works physically from one day to the next because MS can be too unpredictable. 
  2. Do not let your ego get in the way of asking for help or using what you need to make your MS life easier. If you need a cane, a rollator or wheel chair or a service dog, do not hesitate!  You do not look any cooler by struggling without help!
  3. Other people better understand what they can see. Using a rollator lets the world know you probably have balance issues & may need extra time or physical space without having to explain. When MS invisible symptoms are made obviously visible to others, people will be more careful around you.
  4. With MS, using a rollator is not only for balance. I conserve energy using a rollator because my body is not working as hard. It helps me to be more present to my loved ones throughout the day.
 

Meet Robert from Leeds, England

We have asked MS warriors to share their experience with MS and having a rollator.

This is Robert’s story:

Robert is 48 and a father of three teenage girls.
He was diagnosed with MS in 2003 and his disease causes vertigo and balance problems for him. He therefore needs a boost for stability and to stand correctly – which his Carbon Overland helps him with.

Robert has just only started using a rollator. He says that his own personality traits and stubbornness prevented him to come to terms with MS. But seeing the “slick design of Carbon Overland” and “so well designed pieces of kit” helped him massively.

In his daily life, Robert uses crutches and the rollator to move short distances and an electric scooter to go grocery shopping and spend time with his three girls. Talking about his three girls, he says that one should “prepare themselves for teenage girls”. He thinks they are always on their phones, which makes it harder to communicate. Yet, he says that they give him the reason to stay as well as possible!

“My three girls give me a reason to stay as well as possible”

– Robert on his role as a father of three teenagers

Robert’s best tips:

  1. Ask for the blue parking badge! I’ve had mine for six years, but I wish I would have had it earlier – by the time I got diagnosed.
  2. Embrace medical aids!
    I wish I would have done that earlier too.
  3. Never lose hope.
 

Meet Tricia from Switzerland

We have asked MS warriors to share their experience with MS and having a rollator.

This is Tricia’s story:

“I was diagnosed with MS in 2018, but with hindsight the symptoms started long before. My main stopper is the strong fatigue (cognitive and physically) and pain, so I need to compromise a lot. There are sadly a lot of other symptoms such as numbness, stimulus satiation, vision problems, which would be too many to summarize all here.

To priorities my daily energy, I allow my body and my brain to rest when they need to. I take it day by day and make my well-being a priority. That means I follow a healthy nutrition, be physically active when the pain allows it, do yoga and meditation, allow and accept my feelings – in short: I learnt to be a good caring friend to myself.

I do not use a rollator daily, only occasionally on “bad days” or when having a relapse, when my body is weak.
The reason why I chose the byACRE is because it’s light. I do not only have weak (and painful) legs but also weak arms. If I need a rollator on the so-called “bad days”, to push something heavy and bulky (especially when entering a bus or train etc.,) would probably make the situation worse, not better.

Also, the pinky color fits me because pink has always been my motivation color in sport. Plus, I wanted to set a statement: walking aids can be cool/sexy, they do not need to be boring.”

“I wanted to set a statement: walking aids can be cool/sexy, they do not need to be boring”

– Tricia on using the byACRE Carbon Ultralight rollator

Tricia’s best tips:

  1. Give it time, and I mean really time… learning that you have MS is nothing you digest in a few weeks or even months (I’m still learning).
  2. MS has a thousand faces, none is the same. Talk to your doctors; seek facts and advices from them, and from other serious and verified sources (books, online) and talk/connect with other affected people – while, at the same time, stay connected with yourself- because as I said, there is not “the one MS” and everyone experiences it differently.
  3. Be the best friend you could wish for to yourself; be patient and kind to yourself, challenge yourself while at the same time accept the (new) boundaries. Don’t be ashamed to use aids if they help you in daily life or bringing more quality into your life.
 

We are the Grand Prize Winners of FedEx’s Small Business Grant 2021! 

Grand Prize Winner

byACRE wins the European Grand Prize for the most innovative and passionate company in Europe 2021. The price is established by FedEx and is 50,000 EUR. byACRE was named the most innovative and passionate company in Europe among more than 2100 candidates – the highest number of nominations to date.

This was FedEx motivation for giving byACRE the first place prize:
“Their clear growth strategy and groundbreaking product was recognized by the jury as worthy of first place, an achievement they hope will help them remove the stigma associated with mobility challenges and help people stay active – without compromising their lifestyle. Through a focus on aesthetics and functionality, byACRE designs rollators for people, not patients, with the aim of helping people around the world rediscover their freedom of mobility and improve their quality of life. ”

How amazing it is that a small Danish company can achieve such great recognition, in front of several thousand nominees throughout Europe.

As pictured below – Team byACRE are so proud and grateful!

 

Even though research show that mobility is the most common disability facing older adults, it is an issue that is normally overlooked. In this blog post, originally published by SandGenLife, we’ve written about how we should change this behavior and how to open up for the discussion. 

Help Aging Family Members by Discussing Mobility Issues

The holiday season draws families, friends and neighbors together to spend quality time with one another. For many, this holiday season may be the first time they notice a change in a loved one’s health, including their personal mobility. It may be difficult to talk to aging family members about certain issues, mobility is an important one.

According to The U.S. Census Bureau, mobility is the most common disability facing older adults. Yet despite its prevalence, mobility is often the most overlooked. That’s often because people don’t know the signs to look for.

At your family gathering, is a family member remaining in one spot regardless of where the socializing occurs? Are they appearing uneasy while walking down the stairs? Balance, pace and pain when walking are all indicators a family member is struggling with their mobility. While these are the more physical indicators, it’s also important to recognize the more subtle signs, like changes in lifestyle and activity levels. Knowing how to identify mobility limitations can open the door for a respectful conversation this holiday season.

Once an issue has been recognized, it’s time to host a respectful, collaborative dialogue. Mobility loss can lead to other health ailments, like obesity, hypertension – and even chronic diseases like arthritis and diabetes. This conversation can’t be delayed.

The first step is to respectfully listen and acknowledge their struggle with mobility. Initiating the conversation from a place of love and respect will create a productive discussion that can open the door for solutions. Once the issue has been raised, it may be time to visit a health care provider to rule out any underlying health issues; and explore your options.

For millions of Americans, that solution is a mobility aid, like a walker or rollator. There are many models on the market, so knowing what to look for can help your loved one find an option that reflects their lifestyle.

When shopping, consider what your family member enjoys. Do they like walking to their favorite store, or are they an avid gardener? A mobility aid with an attachment to hold items and a seat to rest would be an excellent solution. Do they like to travel to see friends or family? Then a walker that is lightweight and compact will complement their lifestyle. Weight may also be an important factor if your loved one has an older spouse or a relative in a caregiver role. Other factors to consider include accessory options, and opportunities for personalization.

Look to designs that your loved one can feel good about – the market is not as static as it once was. A mobility aid, something so essential to daily life, should be a point of pride and personal style. That was our approach to designing the Carbon Ultralight. We set out to challenge the category by converting a product that had traditionally denoted feelings of dependence and fragility into a point of pride.

Pride can be found in the little, less flashy details too. For example, we re-engineered the handles on the Carbon Ultralight so it enables users to stand taller and greet their surroundings with a stronger presence. This design brings the device closer to the user’s core and it improves their posture. There is a psychological connection between proper posture and confidence.

To us, mindful design is at its best when aesthetic and functionality can work in harmony. Look to companies and designs that are respectful of the consumer; and the lifestyle they want to lead.

This Thanksgiving, if you find yourself worrying about a loved one’s mobility, the best ways to help are by recognizing physical changes, spearheading a loving dialogue and seeking the right solutions. And remember, you aren’t alone in facing this.

Source: SandGenLife – Help aging family members by discussing mobility issues – 22 November 2019

 

After many years with out-dated mobility aids, design companies are finally listening and changing the industry. In this article by The Wall Street Journal, they are digging into the reason that pushed the change – and we’re proud to be part of it:

Why canes and walkers are getting a new look

Older people have long complained that products designed for them are clunky and unattractive.

Now investors and inventors are starting to listen to their complaints.

As the population of people 65 and over grows, so does their spending power in the marketplace—and designers are taking notice. More companies are offering walkers, canes and other products that deftly assist the elderly—and are stylish at the same time. And investors are helping more of those businesses get to market.

The boomer generation is the first to wield its considerable spending power to reject bad design, says Patricia Moore, an industrial designer. As a 20-something in the 1970s, Dr. Moore disguised herself for a year as an octogenarian to fully understand how design fails older people.

“We were the ones always fighting for social change and looking good doing it,” says the designer, now 67 years old. “Now the medical model of aging doesn’t suit us, and we’re using consumer choice to drive the change.”

Speeding up evolution

Products such as walkers and canes have been slow to evolve aesthetically over the past century as designers focused largely on products for their young, mobile peers and largely ignored the desires of the elderly, says Chris McGinley, a senior research fellow at the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design in London’s Royal College of Art.

But, Dr. McGinley says, a shift in the way design thinking is taught in schools—as well as the slow death of the “superstar, egocentric designer”—has meant the needs and desires of older people are now being considered by those who develop products for them.

“Research-and-design ethnography methods that teach people to understand the end-user experience seemed quite niche 10 or so years ago; now, they’re a part of most good design courses,” Dr. McGinley says.

When designers ask older people what they want from products, the answer is often simple: to not look like something a frail, invalid person would use, says Don Norman, a former Apple designer. Now 84 years old, he believes designers too often equate age with poverty.

“Don’t we all find more attractive furniture or clothing and pay a bit more for it throughout our lives?” he says. “Why should it be different for this time in life?”

The request for a cool-looking walker or a well-designed long-term-care facility goes deeper than vanity, says Charlotte Yeh, chief medical officer of AARP, who used a cane herself for a number of years after a car accident in 2011.

“We have to address the damaging imagery of aging: Old-fashioned mobility and medical devices can turn you into an object of pity,” Dr. Yeh says. “When you bring a sense of design and beauty and aesthetics to them, people will talk about them, and people will talk to you—it becomes a way to connect.”

This group has power in numbers: In 2018, there were 52 million Americans over the age of 65, a figure that will nearly double to 95 million by 2060, according to the Census Bureau. And Boston Consulting Group projects that Americans over 55 will account for half of all domestic consumer-spending growth from 2008 to 2030.

Yet Ipsos research found that 82% of those over age 55 say their favorite retail brand no longer understands them or what they need. This feeling of alienation—plus a rise in internet literacy among seniors—is pushing the demographic to seek out and spend their money with brands that cater to their aesthetic needs, says Brian McMahon, founder of design research collective Segment International LLC.

“The idea that older folks are more brand loyal is an outdated view,” he says.

Many of the companies older adults are turning to have gotten into the niche fairly recently.

Danish design house byACRE ApS, which made its retail debut in 2018, is producing carbon-based rollators—walkers with wheels—as a sleek and lightweight alternative to the heavy-duty aluminum offerings sold in mobility shops. The Danish company has sold roughly 12,000 units since its launch, to customers in the U.S., Japan and Australia.

>Founder and chief executive Anders Berggreen was previously chief executive of Seed, a studio that sold high-end baby strollers. He began adapting his design skills for the senior market after someone at a design fair commented on the similarity between strollers and rollators.

Ten years ago byACRE wouldn’t have existed, Mr. Berggreen says. “Older people are using the internet more and googling ‘stylish rollator’ and finding us,” he says.

Another big change: End users are primarily making the purchases, he says. Previously, it was children or caregivers who did the buying, and simply chose whatever was on offer in mobility stores—which meant ease and good looks weren’t always prime considerations.

Source: Wall Street Journal – Why Canes and Walkers are Getting a New Look – 1 August 2020

 

Our Carbon Ultralight was recently featured by the design- and innovation savvy online magazine YankoDesign. YankoDesign are dedicated to cover the best in international product design and we’re proud to be in this category. In this product feature they highlight some of the design functions we are most proud of on our Carbon Ultralight Rollator:

This carbon fiber rollator’s handles will hold your hand

We love universal designs especially when they provide the freedom to move. Mobility is an especially important aspect to our differently-abled demographic that relies on inclusive design, so having a product that works for everyone including them is a true winner. That is why there is no surprise that the Carbon Ultralight rollator was featured on the Red Dot Design Awards! A rollator is basically a rolling walker with a seat that makes it easy to move without having to lift it up.

The name Carbon Ultralight is due to its biggest differentiating factor – the rollator is the lightest (and the first of its kind) in the world because of its complete carbon fiber frame. It only weighs 10.5 lbs (4.8 kgs) so it really is light light but the designers have also added some aircraft-grade aluminum to give it stability while moving and braking. The ergonomic build and shape have been inspired by organic bodies of fast animals (think dolphins, sharks, and falcons!) as well as the streamlined designs of sports cars from the automotive industry. One of the standout little details that make it a ‘clean’ design is that the brake cables are hidden inside the frame.

If you are currently social distancing, you will love the thought behind the shape of the rollator’s handles – the form is designed to give you a feeling of holding onto someone’s hand. This can provide a sense of security to the senior users as well as the differently-abled. Certain shapes and forms are known to provide a psychological comfort that can make the user confident about independently using the product. The handles are purposely turned into the opposite direction of the rollator to provide a better posture to the rider and making maneuvering easy. Its unique handles make riding effortless because you’ll be using your palms instead of your fingers to dictate the rollator’s direction. It also comes with detachable accessories like a backrest and organizer.

Another refreshing change was the upgrade to the height adjustment function – the designers replaced the traditional knob with a button that adjusts the height with 30 mm increments. It is a lot easier to keep track of the height this way if multiple people are sharing the rollator. Apart from being as light as a rollator could be if it was a feather, it is also super compact and when folded down it is only 255 mm wide. If you haven’t noticed yet, the Carbon Ultralight is not only highly functional but it also looks really sleek and stylish. Call your grandma now.

Source: YankoDesign – This carbon fiber rollator’s handles will hold your hand – 27 March 2020

 

Art Collector Barbara Jakobson has lived over 56 years in her vertical, yet inspiring home on Manhattan. How does she do it? She lets her house change along with her life – including welcoming her Carbon Ultralight Rollator. In this article by Curbed we get an insight of a creative living:

“I keep the transformation as proof of life.”

This house has a great history,” says Barbara Jakobson, much of which she made herself. She is 88 and has lived here since 1965, filling all five stories with her collection of paintings, sculpture, photography, and furniture. And the last thing she wanted to do was leave it. But a townhouse means a vertical life, and “after 56 years of stair-climbing without major incident, I was hurrying down from the top floor to the one below at about 5:30 p.m. on Friday, October 23, tripped, and as I crashed to the landing below, I cursed my fate,” she says. Her tumble broke her leg, but, she says gleefully, “I did not hit my head!”

She immediately realized she needed to find a way to move between floors more safely. Probably one of those stairlifts, if she could find one she liked. The house could be adapted; it had always changed with her life as her collecting evolved. “I see the house as a vessel for an ongoing autobiographical exercise,” she says. “I keep the transformation as proof of life.”

They raised three children there. Barbara, who grew up across the street from the Brooklyn Museum and spent many hours in its galleries, had studied art and architectural history at Smith and, as an adult, began collecting art and got to know influential dealers, including Sidney Janis, Ileana Sonnabend, and Leo Castelli. She also had an interest in architecture, encouraged by MoMA curator Emilio Ambasz, and after becoming head of the Junior Council at the Museum of Modern Art in 1971, she organized a show of architectural drawings that included works by Peter Eisenman, Raimund Abraham, and Gaetano Pesce and became a trustee of MoMA in 1974.

Her many friendships are visible in these rooms: She and Robert Mapplethorpe were close, and she sat for many portraits by him. The Robert Morris felt piece in the foyer she bought in 1970; “Bob was a great pal. I really knew him until the end of his life.” She helped Sachs get his first job out of college, working with her when she was consulting for Knoll, doing the plywood furniture with Frank Gehry, “which I got Frank to do.”

                               Photo: Annie Schlechter

The Sitting Room: Jakobson’s new carbon-fiber walker mingles with totems of her life and interests. The portrait of Jakobson above the fireplace, one of many taken by Robert Mapplethorpe during their long friendship, is flanked with photographs by Matthew Barney. Richard Artschwager designed the chair in front of the fireplace. “I just thought it was so witty,” she says of the rubber vase with weeds by the Campana brothers in the middle of the room. The Lolita rug is by Barbara Bloom. The view is over the double-height room with the ghost Stella.

While recuperating from her fall, she looked into the right chairlift, one that might keep her in her house. She has always been fascinated by chairs. The first research paper she ever did, at age 13, was on the history of the chair. Why the chair? “Well, you know, the chair is the substitute for the human body. The chair is the only piece of furniture that relates to a single human being. So from the time you get in your high chair to the time you get in your wheelchair” — here, she laughs — “you’re dealing with chairs. And that’s why, I mean, in a way, that’s why the stair-climber, when I found it, I realized, Oh my God, it’s a chair; it’s going to save my life.

Source: Curbed – Art Collector Barbara Jakobson’s Vertical Life – 24 May 2021

 

As one of the articles in Financial Times’s guide to a longer (and healthier) life, they have written about the complexity of getting old while feeling young. How do you find mobility aids that suits your spirit? According to FT our rollators, along with other products that UK based “Granny Gets a Grip” is offering, has the answer:

The Cause: Meet the rock ‘n’ rollators

Getting old while feeling young is complicated. I was born in the 1960s; as a teenager I listened to Bowie, longed to go to Biba and aspired to eat McDonald’s. My lifestyle was liberal; I took drugs and the pill. I bounced about to Jane Fonda workouts and was an early adopter of Pilates. I’d say at 58 I still dress on the right side of timeless: from JW Anderson to Re/done jeans and my crisp Casey-Casey shirts. And I still love Bowie and Pilates. But however youthful my exterior may appear, the memo has not reached my joints. I was diagnosed with degenerative discs in my back 15 years ago, I have to ask my husband to open jars for me because my arthritic hands can’t manage, and it’s no fun trying to get up from the sofa without making “that noise” as I creak to standing. My eyesight is also shot and this week, for the first time ever, I got sciatica, which is really bloody painful! Apart from that, everything is great.

This morning I did a spot of online shopping; I ordered a pair of Adidas x Wales Bonner trainers, a Chanel mascara, and then I went to my new favourite website, Granny Gets a Grip. For those too young to know, its name is a nod to London’s hippest boutique of the 1960s, Granny Takes a Trip – a one-stop marketplace selling an ingenious edit of products designed for bodies that are showing signs of wear and tear. Founded by friends Sophie Dowling and Miranda Thomas, this website targets people who need a level of physical support but have a Conran Shop aesthetic.

Dowling and Thomas – both in their late 50s, like me, and who have have enjoyed successful careers as a website designer, and physics teacher and magistrate respectively – have scoured the marketplace for products to make life both easier and more chic, from mobility scooters to elegant LED reading lights. The colourful edit is full of satisfyingly practical solutions: long-handled shoe horns, brightly coloured walking sticks, ergonomic garden tools designed to minimise bending, a perching stool with stainless-steel legs, and a sloped sustainable bamboo seat – adjust the height and you’ll never have to worry about standing-induced backache again.

 The ByAcre red carbon Ultralight rollator is so sleek I’d happily roll it into Celine while shopping. 

Where possible, Dowling and Thomas have had things made, such as their furniture raisers, which make it easier to get up from a chair or a sofa. “They usually look awful, like grey plant pots – hence they’re often known as ‘elephant feet’,” shudders Dowling. “We have had attractive square blocks made from bamboo and hardwood – and now they look terrific.”

“We also paid particular attention to hand rails, which usually come in nasty white plastic or metal,” says Thomas. “We had ours made in solid oak with brushed-steel brackets.” It’s a level of detail for a generation who grew up with good design. “My sister is 67; she hung out with The Rolling Stones when she was young,” says Dowling. “She and her friends respond to the bright designs and the chatty language of the site.”

What’s remarkable is that the site feels so pioneering. It offers the opposite of the products in those drab, geriatric catalogues that, once you hit a certain age, start arriving through the door. A recent paper by KPMG/Ipsos Retail Think Tank concluded that the “grey pound” represents the most considerable untapped opportunity in retail: it’s bigger than the “millennial pound” and, thanks to an ageing population, will only increase its market share.

I checked out with a haul including a memory foam knee pillow, which ticks a multitude of back-relieving boxes. Almost as exciting were the long-handle pet bowls – no more creaking first thing – and, lest we forget, the Dycem jar opener. With its non-slip cover, it’s only a tiny thing, and yet it is such a relief not to have to ask for help. Who would have thought mobility aids could be à la mode?

Source: Financial Times – The Cause: Meet the rock’n’ rollators – 5 October 2021