innovations often, if not always, stem from insights drawn
first-hand from patients afflicted with conditions that need treatment.
To help understand and address the health concerns and needs of an aging
population, Rahel Eckardt of the Evangelical Geriatrics Center in
Germany has created the “Age Man,” a special suit that allows the wearer
to simulate the physical limitations and constraints of the elderly.
in at a heavy 10 kilograms, the suit features ear mufflers that prevent
full hearing, pads on elbows and knees to stiffen joints, a tight
jacket to prevent easy breathing, a yellow visor to disorient sight and
color differentiation, and padded gloves to partly disable the sense of
touch. In this manner, Eckardt hopes to encourage empathy and
sensitivity among medical students toward geriatric care. As told to The Guardian, Eckardt explains the insight behind the Age Man suit:
aim is to turn young energetic people into slow, creaking beings,
temporarily at least. That way they will I hope, develop a feeling for
what it’s like to be old. Rather than a PowerPoint presentation, this is
the best way of giving them a real idea of what it’s like to be old –
that is, 75 and upwards – and only once we have their empathy can we
really begin to win students round to becoming interested in old people
as patients. Maybe then they will consider a career in geriatrics, which
until now has fought for recognition alongside other fields of medicine
that are considered to be more exciting.