What’s it like to need elderly medical supplies at age 30?

A suit can let you find out firsthand what it’s like to need elderly medical supplies some 50 years in advance – and it’s not the prosthetic make up from Bad Grandpa, either. The Genworth R70i is a 40lb exoskeleton that can weaken joints, vision, and hearing via control remote, giving a 30-something a sneak preview of what life might like as an 80-something. And while this technology may leave you with a new appreciation for canes and walkers, it at least spares you the need for TENS units, catheters, or diapers, since it cannot recreate arthritis or incontinence.

Nevertheless, Genworth Financial Inc. – the insurance firm behind the Genworth Aging Experience traveling show currently touring museums – hopes the suit will help promote empathy and awareness of the daily challenges that leave senior citizens in need of elderly medical supplies, like not being able to reach and grab things because of joint stiffness, just to give a basic example. “In our culture, we revere youth and beauty, so this is opening up the channels to have the 'let's talk' conversation,” Genworth ‘brand ambassador’  Candace Hammer said. “It's not shameful that you should need care.”

Common Signs of Aging and Genworth R70i Features

Vision disorders

On-board cameras with augmented reality vision system demonstrate glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, and floaters.

Hearing impairments

Headphones and microphones simulate hearing loss, tinnitus, and aphasia.

Mobility challenges

Sensors and remote-controlled software regulate range-of-motion and joint limitations.


Adjustable controls alter dexterity the ability to complete everyday tasks.

Muscle loss

Frame-conforming suit illustrates the effects and feeling of multiple levels of muscle loss.


Chief creative officer of Applied Minds and the engineer behind the suit Bran Ferren told Claire Landsbaum of New York Magazine that “this stuff (the effects of aging) happens. And you don’t plan for it, and you’re not expecting it. The purpose of this is really to start a different type of discussion about aging. We find this is a topic people don’t want to talk about.” He added that aging is “a societal problem, it’s an economic problem, and it’s something we really need to deal with. But denial is alive and well in most people. Who wants to think you might be a burden on your friends and family? Who wants to think you might lose your job? There are a hundred unfortunate reasons why this isn’t a big topic of conversation. The fact is, we don’t talk about unpleasant things until something happens that puts it in the public’s face in a way that causes them to confront it.”

The goal of Genworth is to enable the families of the 75 million baby boomers in the United States to talk about subjects no one wants to talk about, such as end-of-life care and death. It could be argued that the actual goal is for an insurance company to sell some long-term insurance – but that would be malicious of me. By the way, did I mention that Discount Medical Supplies sells elderly medical supplies?

Related: How to help an aging parent grow old at home