By Cyril Tuohy
Here’s an idea to spur long-term care planning: Putting on a suit that makes you feel old before your time.
Genworth Financial has released what it claims is a first-of-its-kind, age-simulation suit designed to help people feel what it’s like to suffer from ailments typically associated with aging and longevity.
The suit, created in partnership with Hollywood special effects experts and costume designers, may just be one of the most innovative ideas to come out of the long-term care insurance (LTCi) industry in many years.
Branded as Genworth R70 — the name reflects that fact that 70 percent of Americans will require some form of long-term care after the age of 65 — the suit will be used by the company in 2015 in an effort to to raise awareness about the effects of aging and the need for long-term care planning.
Genworth President and CEO Tom McInerney said in a press release that for many people “the talk” about long-term care and preparing for longevity is often awkward because the subject matter is always sensitive and usually painful.
Released at the Social Innovation Summit last week in Silicon Valley, the Genworth R70 suit mimics what it’s like to suffer from hearing loss, declining vision, arthritis, balancing disorders, impaired dexterity and curbed posture.
Joints in the suit have been stiffened and tungsten has been added to the gloves and the boots to create the sensation of arthritis, and an indexing optical system allows lenses to change as vision deteriorates with age, according to engineers interviewed on a YouTube posting of how the suit was made.
Dr. Edward Schneider, dean emeritus and professor at the University of Southern California’s Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, who served as a consultant on the suit’s development, said R70 helps people to think about the future and the choices they face as they age.
“By simulating what it’s like to get old, people start thinking about their futures, starting thinking about the upcoming decades and make logical choices,” Schneider said.
Cyril Tuohy is a writer based in Pennsylvania. He has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. Cyril may be reached at [email protected].
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