Let’s face it. Not many people really want to get old, but nonetheless it happens to us every single day. As we age, there are new challenges to our daily life that we never considered when we were younger. And it’s not just our waist lines and brainpower that change. Among the changes we can expect as we age are decreased joint mobility in knees and elbows, increased muscle fatigue, slower movements, decreased shoulder movement, shorter leg movements and strides, curvature of spine, reduced eye sight, difficulties with hearing, and loss of balance. Whew…
To help understand the physical aspects of aging, researchers at MIT work in what is called the “Age Lab” to better understand the challenges associated with advancing age. Developed by researchers, AGNES (Age Gain Now Empathy System) is a suit that can be worn by students, product developers, scientists, engineers, and business executives, to help them understand the physical challenges faced by an aging population. Wearing the AGNES suit gives new insights into even the simplest of tasks such as shopping, reading labels, and making a cup of tea. Even the simplest tasks of grocery shopping and transportation bring on new challenges when we cannot fully extend our arms, legs, or read the itty-bitty print on a product label.
Is there any good news to aging? Yes, aging brings us insights and wisdoms that were lost on us in our 20s. We get smarter, more financial secure, and gain stability in our homes and family life. Now if only we could slow down the pesky physical limitations, it would be a great day.
Group Activities and Discussion Questions:
- View the MIT Lab site and video at http://agelab.mit.edu/agnes-age-gain-now-empathy-system
- Ask students what the implications are for companies and marketers as the U.S. population ages.
- What products need to be modified? What about packaging modifications?
- Divide students into team and have them consider areas such as transportation, communication, health care, policies, housing.
- What are areas of concern? How can companies address the unique needs of an older population?
Source: MIT Web site: //agelab.mit.edu