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How to Feel Old Before Your Time

People don't like to think about getting old. This is a problem for companies trying to market long-term care insurance...
December 3, 2014

People don't like to think about getting old. This is a problem for companies trying to market long-term care insurance. Now 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 was created in partnership with Hollywood special effects experts and costume designers. Branded as Genworth R70—the name reflects the claim 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 raise awareness about the effects of aging and the need for long-term care planning.

Released at the Social Innovation Summit 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.

Genworth President and CEO Tom McInerney said 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. There's no indication yet whether attempting to scare people with an "age-simulation suit" will have the opposite effect, making such conversations more sensitive, more painful and even less likely to occur.

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