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Why More People Should Try On An Aging Suit

As our global society continues to age, inventions that allow one to experience what it feels like to be old are becoming more commonplace.

Simulations can range from the simple—gravel-filled gloves to imitate arthritis and ear plugs that make it harder to hear and speak—to the complex. Perhaps the most all-encompassing experience is offered by the “aging simulation suit GERD,” brain child of German design firm, Produkt + Projekt.

“Suit” is a slight misnomer. The simulator employs several separate components, including different pairs of vision-impairing goggles to mimic various age-related eye conditions; headphones that block out high-frequency noise; a weight vest and a series of weighted wraps that go around a person’s neck, elbows, wrists, knees and ankles; gloves that bestow the effects of arthritis and tremor through electrical stimulation pulses; and over-the-shoe wraps with super-soft soles to make the wearer more unsteady on his or her feet. Additional accessories to the suit allow the wearer to experience the effects of partial paralysis due to a stroke.

Another aging simulation suit was developed by engineers from MIT’s AgeLab. The Age Gain Now Empathy System (nicknamed “AGNES”) is an actual suit that uses weights, resistance bands and braces to imitate the mobility issues of aging. A helmet and goggles provide visual impairment, while special shoes make walking around that much more difficult.

The combined effect of these components is pretty illuminating, as this BBC reporter quickly discovered:

Understanding an elders challenges leads to innovation

Hospitals, schools, senior care homes and businesses are beginning to use aging simulations to help younger individuals understand the challenges faced by older adults as they go about their day-to-day lives.

Practically all those who participate say the experience is eye-opening. But it can be a pricey one—a single suit from Produkt + Projekt costs nearly $1,700. Other simulations are less expensive, but for certain businesses, the ability to completely step into the shaky shoes of a senior may pay off in the form of inspiration for new elder-friendly products and services.

After having their staffers don the age simulation suit GERD, British banking behemoth, Barclays, came up with several ways to make life easier for their elderly customers, such as audio-based ATMs and easier-to-read debit cards.

The ability to gain a better understanding of what it feels like to grow old presents a rare win-win-win situation for elders, the communities they live in and the businesses they frequent.

What do you think of this emerging trend? Given the greying of America, should aging simulations be a requirement for schools and certain businesses?

Related
4 Factors That Affect Elder Well-Being
What is Arthritis and Why Does it Hurt So Much?
The Common Cause of Death You’ve Never Heard Of
Top 10 Best Cities for Seniors: Not Where You Think
8 Chair Exercises for Better Balance and Strength
How We Define ‘Frailty’

Read more: Aging, Arthritis, Health, Healthy Aging, Videos, Videos, , ,

By Anne-Marie Botek, AgingCare.com Editor

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AgingCare.com

AgingCare.com connects family caregivers and provides support, resources, expert advice and senior housing options for people caring for their elderly parents. AgingCare.com is a trusted resource that visitors rely on every day to find inspiration, make informed decisions, and ease the stress of caregiving.

132 comments

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10:04AM PST on Jan 23, 2014

Thank you.

9:45AM PST on Dec 4, 2013

Thank you!

3:19PM PST on Nov 26, 2013

WALK A MILE IN THEIR SHOES, then continue on with your life OR change it for the better (and theirs).

What a concept ... too complex for today's self-important, uninvolved, compassionless, limited brain functioning masses? From the observation booth of life, I say YES. What do you say?

Also believe that ntil it hits your reality, virtual is but a limp and useless attempt at life lessons to be learned throughout the circle of each one's life, unique as each snowflake and therefore unpredictable in advance.


3:52PM PST on Nov 25, 2013

ty

6:44AM PST on Nov 25, 2013

Crikey! Agree with Deb R, time is galloping along quite fast enough for me, thank you all the same.

8:23PM PST on Nov 24, 2013

TYFS

1:23PM PST on Nov 24, 2013

I'm falling apart fast enough all by myself, thanks!

1:10PM PST on Nov 24, 2013

Thanks

11:27AM PST on Nov 24, 2013

This totally reminds me of my MomMom who in her last 20yrs always wore her variety of colored checkered pants suits. She also had hair gel that she used all the time on her thin, bright red hair. I will never, ever forget those outfits or her tiny hair curls. She had skin that was absolutely perfect and when you cheek kissed her you got a smell of fresh, just cut cucumbers. She passed 17yrs ago at 76yrs old. Miss ya MomMom. You are my heart...and my cucumber smell.

11:22AM PST on Nov 24, 2013

how old is old

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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