Last week, I experienced wearing the GERT suit in the mixed reality lab. The GERT suit is a gerontologic suit that offers the opportunity to feel the impairment of older persons without being older actually. This experience was quite enough to understand something through empathy instead of sympathy. For some moment, I was feeling like an older aged 60. The suit was so heavy that I hardly walk freely, move the body; even bending the body was very troubling. While stepping the foot during walking, you will bitterly realize how gravity works! Walking with the suit for a certain distance took two times of walking without the suit. One can get easily tired of sitting or standing in a place for some moment without doing anything since the body develops some sort of inertia. I was taking a deep breath with the suit on my body. Reaching an object placed on a higher shelf was relatively less difficult. But, leaning over to have the bottom shelf’s object was very tiresome, as it creates pressure on the belly to mitigate the tension on the back. Bending the knee causes too much tension on the knee.
The different goggles affected the vision. Especially, the cataract and retinas pigmentosa was relatively troublesome. The brown tone of cataract just allowed me to see shapes, but distinguish them was difficult. The earmuff experience was not so horrible like the goggle’s one. The earmuff was preventing the surrounding noise, which in turn facilitate me to grasp the word. I was talking in a slightly higher voice while wearing the earmuff.
With this experience of the troubles caused by impairment of an older adult, we tried to develop a prototype of portable support (like a chair) on the back. Sitting on a floor or couch is troublesome for some older adults, especially for those who develop waist pain. This may allow the older take rest without complete sitting or bending the knee. While standing, the support may align parallel to the body, which in turn will rotate by 90 degrees or less once the person starts to bend the knee a little. The support can be held by a fabric or lace that goes around the shoulder from leg to the back (fig attached)