[Translation French - English : EPALE France
Author : Carole Traineau]
Presentation of an innovative training course, intended for caregivers at home or in an institution
I am a consultant in several training organisations in the medico-social and health sectors. The students I support in their training are caregivers or helpers for the elderly, or for those with physical disabilities. They work in institutions or in the home.
The training course is called: PUT YOURSELF IN AN OLD PERSON’S PLACE
With the help of an age simulator, trainees are able to experience the typical weaknesses of the elderly for themselves.
Age-related weaknesses are the following:
• loss of peripheral vision
• restricted mobility
• stiffness of the joints
• loss of strength
• decreased agility
• reduced movement coordination
The outfit weighs 30 kg and adds 30 to 40 years to the wearer's actual age.
It is made up of a set of separate components. By their interaction, effects very similar to those of the age-related decrease in motor and sensory abilities may be felt.
In particular, the gait and changed gripping ability due to age are reproduced in a very realistic manner. The increased mental strain and the growing uncertainty of movement also become more understandable. Anyone who has tried the Age Simulator understands older people's behaviour better.
There is also a Tremor Simulator. In fact, understanding the common problems caused by tremors is valuable experience for all professionals working in the fields of gerontology, geriatrics or care units for the elderly.
The objectives of this one- or two-day training module are:
becoming more aware of the physical difficulties of ageing people
putting themselves in the place of the ageing person
learning about the mental and physical functioning of the elderly.
Theoretical contributions are necessary on the notions of ageing, on the concepts of autonomy and dependence, on psychological ageing, suffering, resistance to change, pathological disorders and psychiatric problems.
The purpose of the exercise is to understand the physical ageing of the person, the process of senescence and the body's physical limitations, as well as the psychological consequences.
Trainees in the ageing situation can experience the movements and simple acts of daily life. They will become aware of the body's weight, and of joint problems. Generally, the most impressive result for the person wearing the simulator is the discomfort that the device causes at the level of the senses. Loss of sight and hearing very quickly plunge the person into a feeling of being shut in. It is more difficult to overcome the inability to communicate than the inability to move easily. Even when feeling very tired, people find the ability to move and carry out their normal movements, albeit in a slower manner.
Towards a change of professional practices
By putting himself in the place of the older person, the carer can become aware of the person's feelings, his disabilities. He can appreciate the psychological effects that ageing causes. From this, he will better remember his feelings and will more readily change his professional practices. For example, he will naturally avoid hurrying a person who moves slowly. He will support the elderly person's actions rather than doing them for him. He will understand refusals, fear or even sometimes the aggression that an elderly person may show.
Carole Traineau is a SIFA (Strategy and Engineering in Adult Training) MA student at the University of Tours.
This MA is an EPALE France Ambassador.