Germany has developed a unique device, actually a suit, which is an Age Simulator System, or ASS for those who enjoy acronyms. It is thought that this suit will help young designers of electrical appliances, cars and medical equipment improve designs by being made aware of the specific difficulties of those in their autumn years. God forbid we say the ‘O’ word. Old, old, old, old…there, I said it, thrice.
The suit has weights sewn in at various points to simulate heaviness, built-in ear muffs to decrease hearing and the helmet has a visor that restricts the line of vision and wraps it in a dull yellowish tinge. A quote from one of the first to try the suit was, “Just crossing the street was an adventure, sitting down on a bench was a pain and getting up was exhausting.” A twenty-three-year-old explained that the joints in the suit deliberately stiffened, preventing her from getting her leg over a bike. Yet another said he fumbled around in pain as he reached for his wallet, with the gloves pricking his hands at every moment. I’ll bet they were happy to have their ASS fall off. The price of this suit wasn’t mentioned, but I’m sure with all the features mentioned, it’s not cheap.
Why is it so important for us to know what it feels like to be old? How would experiencing ten minutes in any kind of simulation help us to be kinder people? Shouldn’t we be kind and make things easier just because we should?
I think the ASS was developed so we won’t be afraid to grow old…to die. We will you know, grow old before we die, if we are lucky. There are ways to know what it feels like to be old without spending vast amounts of money. Here are a few exercises that I guarantee will simulate the natural aging process.
• Go to the nearest sleep gallery, jump up on the bed closest to you and try to prance around the room by jumping from bed to bed. Be sure to keep your knees bent when crossing over the water beds. Two times around the room should give you a good idea of what arthritis in the knee joints feels like.
• Next time you’re at a Grand Opening, stare into the spotlight they have roving the sky. I would suggest a good thirty minutes as the perfect amount of time to experience the reduced vision associated with cataracts.
• Drink several 32 oz. beverages, but don’t go to the bathroom. Go to a comedy show. This will simulate incontinence, believe me.
• Ask a friend to stand behind you, place an air horn against the back of your head, and blow it for one full minute. If performed correctly, this will replicate the major hearing loss that most elderly people experience. It may take some time to recover from this test, be patient.
• Fill a large wading pool with water. Run as fast as you can through the water several times around the circumference. This test is for experiencing the feeling one gets from standing up too quickly. Be sure to wear rubber sole deck shoes, the pool bottom will be slippery. If you fall, you may hit your head on a sprinkler head and that would be the self-induced coma simulator for those who are curious as to what that feels like.
Let’s not be afraid of the natural wearing out process. Thumb your nose at death, go ahead, it is fun. I have laughed in the face of death (even after eating garlic), had brushes with him, flirted with him and even gone so far as to give him a lap dance. See? I’m okay.
The only thing that really bothers me about aging is that I seem to be shrinking and now I have more weight to lose than I thought.