Why insecure when you get older

Live healthy : Aged slightly

Frail, forgetful, needy: the prospects for old age are not particularly rosy. Hollywood diva Mae West is said to have once said that “getting old is not for cowards”. Actor Joachim Fuchsberger used this quote to write his guidebook published in 2011. And Vicco von Bülow alias Loriot even said: "Getting old is an imposition".

Is it really like that? And above all: does it have to be? That's exactly what I want to find out. The plan: I'm getting old - and then try to make it as easy as possible for me with all that industry and technology have to offer for this purpose. However, this is not just a long-term plan for my later life. But also a very specific one: I will spend a morning at the age of 75, with the help of the age simulation suit "Age Man" from the Meyer-Hentschel Institute in Saarbrücken. Namely in the so-called “deprivation apartment”, a model apartment in Berlin-Marzahn. Scientifically supported by the Institute for Telematics of the Technical University of Applied Sciences Wildau, it was designed by the orthopedic technology and sanitary goods company OTB and is equipped with everything that should help aging people cope with their everyday lives and live independently for as long as possible - from the latest technology to towards the classic reading magnifier.

On the day of my instant aging, the prospects are anything but rosy: It's a Friday morning at the end of February, typical Berlin half-winter, dreary and gray and uncomfortable. And already on the way to Marzahn - too late, annoyed, stressed - I agree with Loriot inwardly: Yes, old age can actually be an imposition - for the non-old. Because when I want to quickly buy a ticket at the subway station, a white-haired woman is standing in line in front of me. The rather cumbersome and rather slowly fidgeting her wallet out of her handbag and then the change out of her wallet. So cumbersome and so slow that I miss my train. And that's why I'm way too late. Great.

A few hours later I then also experience a “Mae West moment” - which, however, reveals me as a coward. Because being old temporarily really scares me during the course of the morning. And yet there are more and more people who plunge into the "adventure of old age", which is also getting longer and longer: The life expectancy of Germans is rising steadily, those who are born today are on average 78 (men) or 83 years (women) old . At least 65-year-olds currently make up around a fifth of the population. By 2060, around one in three people should be 65 or older, and one in eight at least 80 years. Today it is around one in twenty. However, this demographic change has only been given greater attention since the baby boomers, the baby boomers, have come of age, which intensifies the shortage of care. In addition, the 65 to 74-year-olds represent one of the wealthiest groups in the population - who also value a self-determined life. This creates a market for aids and assistance systems of all kinds that are supposed to make life easier in old age.

More than 100 of them from more than 50 companies, are gathered in the "declining apartment" in the Marzahn industrial park east of Rhinstrasse, which has been open to visitors since the end of 2014: 140 square meters, sixth floor prefabricated building, living room, bedroom, kitchen, two bathrooms, everything bright and friendly and fully stocked with useful things. This can be a cup with a recess for the nose so that you can drink it without having to put your head back. Or an armchair that can be tilted forward to help you get up. This can also be a stove that switches itself off if its sensor detects no activity nearby for a certain period of time. Or intelligent systems that regulate the heating according to which rooms are used and when, and also register when the refrigerator door has been open for too long or has not been opened for too long - and then sound the alarm for relatives or a nursing service, for example.

Ambient Assistant Living (AAL) is the name of this concept, which meets the desire of many older people for independence and security, while at the same time relieving the caregivers and reducing care costs. However, this requires a fairly high initial investment: Extensive retrofitting of an apartment can easily cost several tens of thousands of euros. “Of course, not everyone needs everything,” says Anja Schlicht from OTB, which looks after the apartment and is also based here in the house. "That's why you can look at everything here and try it out - and then decide which of it suits your own needs." Schlicht let us into the apartment, showed us around - and then leaves us alone. "Feel completely at home!"

You can find the complete self-experiment in the magazine for medicine and health in Berlin: "Tagesspiegel Gesund - Fit and calmly grow older".

Further topics of the edition: What biology says.An aging researcher explains why and how the body changes over the course of life. Fountain of youth.Which foods keep you fit for a long time. Fit for the grandchildren.Sport in a club is fun and strengthens family life. Sex in old age.Even at 70 or 80 people don't want to give up lust. The power of plants.Do gingko, green tea or ginseng help against age-related complaints? Purchase advice. Which vision aids and hearing aids are really worthwhile and when. Dial the emergency call. Safe at home despite her illness. Helpers yes, carers no! How useful can robots be. Medicine for Aging. Geriatrists - the specialists for seniors. Always stay smart.Effective training for the brain. Cataract. How the cloudy lens becomes clear again. Weak bones. Osteoporosis is treatable. Diabetes. What works against the sugar. Dangerous cocktail.Too many medicines are harmful. Out of the dark.How to Escape Depression. Also: A comparison of clinics and medical practices.

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