If elder people were seeing themselves, living and speaking like they would have done it when they were young, can we help them feeling younger and healthier? Does this slowing down which comes with time is made from imagination? In order to prove it, I convinced six famous people from 76 to 88 years old to live in my scientific laboratory: a study house decorated in a 70s style. The project was conceived as a result of a first experiment made by the professor Ellen Langer, from the Oxford University.
In 1979, Langer was doing research on the fact that ageing is a product of our state of mind. In order to explore this possibility, her and its students realised a experiment called “ the anticlockwise study”. It was about taking a group of advance-aged people and putting them in the 1959 world. She wanted to answer the following question: if we could bring the mind 20 years before, will the body follow this change? Our experiment had quite similar ambitions: to make a group of people feel younger by entertaining in the world they left behind them 35 years ago.
They accepted to live in our time capsule for a week, in which they wore clothes from the 70s, slept in copy of their own room of this time, watched TV from the 70s and spoke of the year 1975 like if it was present. It turned out to be a fascinating experiment but exhausting for the scientists as well for the guinea pigs. Since the beginning, we were clear with our volunteers. They would have to take care of themselves on their own.
Researches on old people’s home clearly show that the fact of giving to the residents the control of their life’s and decisions has a very benefit impact on health and happiness. One of the study was the following: residents had to choose a plant to take care of it and had to choose when and where they wanted to received visitors. Then, after 18 months residents were much happier, more active and more alive. They were as well much prone to be alive. The investigation into …. Has shown that those who live in a tough atmosphere live around 30% more than those who live in a safe but annoying atmosphere.
Because of this, when they arrived, the volunteers had to carry their luggage’s by the stairs and to their rooms. It was the first time since a lot that they were forced to do something like that and they were not happy. But they accepted the challenge. Gradually, More than challenge them to make a physical effort, we forced them to ask themselves if maybe they were physically more able… By the end of week, we submit to our guinea pigs the same battery of precise physic and psychology proofs than at the beginning.