Sofia Örtlund Eklind läser till distriktsköterska och får använda äldredräkten i undervisningen.

Sofia Örtlund Eklind is studying to become a district nurse and uses the elderly costume.

How does aging feel?

Ageing can have its challenges, with deteriorating vision and hearing as well as body aches and pains. To get a better insight into what it is like to be an elderly person, students at the School of Health and Welfare at Jönköping University who study the specialist nursing programme for district nurses wear an elderly suit. This is to increase understanding and improve the treatment of the elderly who are in need of care.

The elderly suit Gert, as it is called, simulates what it is like to be elderly with, for example, glasses that cause impaired vision, hearing protection that causes impaired hearing and imitates tinnitus, weights are used to simulate the loss of muscle mass, and special shoes disrupt balance. The suit used by the School of Health and Welfare can illustrate eight different medical conditions such as stroke, diabetes and hemiplegia.

“Students can more clearly visualize what it is like to be older. Together with the theoretical elements, the experience becomes more concrete, an opportunity to ‘walk in the shoes of the elderly’. This becomes a tool for teaching good treatment,” says Julia Lindblom, doctoral student and lecturer at the programme.

Among other things, it can be about having patience for the elderly when things take longer or an increased understanding that they cannot cope with certain activities.

Reducing prejudice against the elderly

Julia Lindblom, Elzana Odzakovic and Charlotta Wigenius from the specialist nursing programme have made a study visit to the Skaraborg Health Technology Centre at Skövde University, where they use the suit in their teaching,

“The visit inspired us to use the suit in our programmes as well. Research shows that there are prejudices against older people (ageism) and working with this age group is something we want to change through an increased understanding of aging and how to care for older people,” says Elzana Odzakovic, lecturer and programme manager.

Meet student Sofia Örtlund Eklind, who is studying to become a specialist nurse specialising in district nursing, who wears the elderly suit in the clip.