Age-related sensory changes and diseases

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Step 1. Introduce yourself to another student, who will be your partner during this activity.

Step 2Obtain the following from the supplies provided.

For each student
a. A yellow pill bottle. Make sure that it contains at least five blue beads (“pills”) and five green beads (“pills”) plus at least five beads (“pills”) of other colors. Be sure that the cap is securely tightened on the pill bottle.
b. Two wads of cotton or a piece of tissue paper.
c. A shoelace.
d. Paper and pen or pencil.
For each pair of students
a. A roll of cloudy cellophane tape in a tape dispenser.
b. A color deprivation mask.
c. A “cataract” mask or A shoelace.
d. A paper with a statement printed in a very small font.
e. Several pieces of candy of different flavors.

C. Perform the next procedures (Steps 3-36).

Simulate selecting proper medications.
3. Open the bottle and take out three blue pills. Be sure that all other pills are back in the bottle and that the bottle top is securely tightened. Open the bottle again and put all the pills back into the bottle. Be sure that the bottle top is securely tightened.

Simulate aging skin touch, and joint stiffness.
4. Wrap tape gently around the tips of the fingers you use to remove pills from the bottles. Now wrap tape gently around the rest of those fingers. (Alternatively, put on the gloves.)
5. Notice any difference from Step 3 as you do the following. Open the bottle and take out three blue pills. Be sure all other pills are back in the bottle and the bottle top is securely tightened. Open the bottle again and put all the pills back into the bottle. Be sure that the bottle top is securely tightened.

Simulate aging vision and cataracts.
6. Dim the lights in the room.
7. Repeat Step 3. Compare your performance with previous tries.
8. Turn on the yellow lights or put on the age-related color deprivation mask.
9. Hold the paper with a statement printed in a very small font no more than four inches (the width of your hand) from your face. Read the following aloud to your partner.
10. Repeat Step 3. Compare your performance with previous tries.
11. Put the “cataract” mask over your eyes.
12. Repeat Step 3. Compare your performance with previous tries.
13. Obtain a shoelace. Take turns with your partner doing the following.
14. Your partner begins to say things to make you hurry, and maybe to insult you for being so slow.
15. While this is happening, tie the shoelace in a regular shoelace knot around your partner’s foot (or untie your partner’s shoe lace and then tie it again).
16. If you used the shoelace provided by the instructor, remove it from your partner’s foot.

Simulate hearing loss.

17. Obtain a piece of paper and a pen or pencil. If your instructor has not already done so, divide the paper into five vertical columns with ten lines in each column.
18. Place a cotton wad or piece of wadded tissue paper into each of your ears. Your partner gently presses the cotton wad or paper wads into you ears. Using the first column on your paper, try to write the words listed on the tape recording. Do the best you can.
19. Remove the cotton wads from your ears. Your partner will begin to whisper into your ear, telling you where they ate last, who was with them, what they ate, and what they talked about. Use the second column on your paper. While your partner is whispering, try to write the words listed on the tape recording. Do the best you can.
20. Use the third column on your paper. While the room is quite and no one is talking or whispering, try to write the words listed on the tape recording. Do the best you can.

Begin “reversing” ageing and “curing” age-related diseases.

21. Remove the “cataract” mask from your face.
22. Repeat Step 20 using the fourth column. Compare your performance with previous tries.
23. Turn on the room lights and turn off the yellow lights or remove the color deprivation mask.
24. With no one distracting you, repeat Step 15. Compare your performance with previous tries.
25. Remove the tape from you fingers or take of the gloves.
26. With no one distracting you, repeat Step 15 with the shoelace. Compare your performance with previous tries.
27. Repeat Step 3. Compare your performance with previous tries.
28. Repeat Step 20 using the fifth column on you paper.

Simulate and “reverse” aging “taste” (actually, smell) sensitivity.

29. If you do not want to eat candy, do not do Steps 30-36.
30. Take turns doing the following with your partner.
31. Hold your nose closed and breath through your mouth.
32. Close your eyes and hold out your other hand.
33. Your partner will place a piece of candy into your extended hand, which you will put into your mouth. 34. Try to identify the flavor.
35. While trying to identify the flavor, let go of your nose and breath in and out through your nose. 33. Try to identify the flavor of the candy.
36. Compare your performance with your first attempt. Compare the intensity of the flavor with that you experienced while holding your nose.

37. Return all clean and uncontaminated supplies and materials to the proper locations. Discard all damaged, dirty, and contaminated supplies and materials.

Supplies for age-related sensory changes and diseases.

For each student:
1. A yellow pill bottle containing at least five blue beads (“pills) and five green beads (“pills”) plus at least five beads (“pills”) of other colors. Be sure that the cap is securely tightened on the pill bottle. (Pill bottles are available from pharmacies. Colored beads are available from  craft supply stores or departments. The blue beads and green beads should be as similar to one another as possible in color intensity, shape, size, etc. To make the exercise more difficult, use some blue beads that differ only in size and some green beads that differ only in size. Ask the students to remove only blue beads of the smaller size. )
2. A color deprivation mask (A paper mask with a slot cut out and covered with yellow cellophane or yellow cellophane tape. The paper mask can be taped in place over the face. Alternatively, provide each student with a pair of inexpensive yellow sunglasses.)
3. A “cataract” mask (A paper mask with a slot cut out and covered with cloudy cellophane tape {cataract}. Alternatively, provide each student with a pair of inexpensive sunglasses and put cloudy cellophane tape on the lenses).
4. Two wads of cotton or a piece of tissue paper.
5. A shoelace.
6. Paper and pen or pencil.
7. A paper with a statement printed in a very small font (e.g., 8pt. Times Roman). A suggested statement may be “When a person gets older and their  eyes change, reading something that is not far enough away is difficult because the writing seems blurry. The eyes cannot focus on the print. Increased glare reduces the contrast between the print and the paper, so letters are even less distinct. The person may seem to be a poor reader. The person wants to move the writing farther away to make it clearer.”
8. A paper with a statement printed in a very “fuzzy” font (e.g., 8pt. Times Roman Shadow, 8pt. Times Roman Engrave, 8pt. Times Roman Emboss, 8pt. Times Roman, Outline, 8pt. Times Roman Shadow and Outline )
9. A paper with four columns, each column having ten numbered blanks.
For each pair of students
1. A roll of tape and scissors or a tape dispenser. (Alternatively, provide each student with a pair of gloves (e.g., cloth, latex, plastic). To reduce touch sensation even more, put a small piece of absorbent cotton or a small piece of tissue paper into each finger tip of each glove.)
2. A shoelace.
3. Several pieces of candy of different flavors. (e.g., Tic-Tacs of different flavors)
For the class
1. Four goose neck lamps with yellow bulbs (e.g., insect-repelling bulbs)
2. A cassette tape player.
3. A cassette tape with a list of ten terms (to be written by the students.)

With thanks to Molly McErlean, University of Illinois; and Jeanne Snyder, Eastern Illinois University

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© Copyright 1999 - Augustine G. DiGiovanna - All rights reserved.
This material MAY be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in any data base or retrieval system ONLY under one of the following two conditions: (1) If no individual, group, organization, institution, company, corporation or other entity is charged for its use and only for use by instructors and students in courses where students are required to purchase the book HUMAN AGING: BIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES by Augustine G. DiGiovanna, The McGraw-Hill Companies, New York, 1994 or 2000; (2) If prior written permission is obtained from Augustine G. DiGiovanna.