School simulates old age to foster empathy for elderly

By Chen Feng-li  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Sep 07, 2018 - Page 4

The Affiliated Senior High School of National Chi Nan University yesterday invited students to experience “old age” by wearing blurry glasses and arm weights as part of a two-day event that aims to foster empathy toward older people.

Using special equipment provided by Chaoyang University of Technology’s Department of Golden-Ager Industry Management, students were taught the challenges of day-to-day life for old people.

On the first day, associate professor Chang Shann-Bin (張善斌) and four of his students asked students to wear the glasses and weights while trying to pick up ping-pong balls with chopsticks to experience what it feels like to have reduced vision and weak joints.

Many failed.

Another challenge saw students being fed by others.

Many said they were shocked that being fed is far from being enjoyable and could even be painful.

Students showed surprise at how difficult life can be for older people on a daily basis, and some said that they would put more effort into caring for their older family members.

“I will never again complain about how slow old people are,” a student said.

Principal Chang Cheng-yen (張正彥) said he organized the event because teenagers cannot understand the pain and inconvenience caused by aging, as they are physically strong and dexterous.

However, he said it was also an opportunity to highlight university programs in long-term care and elderly care.