Advancing technology-based solutions to support older adults and their caregivers
TORONTO, July 10, 2020 /CNW/ – AGE-WELL NCE Inc. (Aging Gracefully across Environments using Technology to Support Wellness, Engagement and Long Life) is pleased to announce funding for 22 new research projects that leverage technology to address the needs and challenges of older adults and their caregivers.
The total investment of more than $10-million over three years is part of AGE-WELL’s renewed mandate through the federal Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) program to the end of fiscal year 2022-23.
“Technology can make a profound difference in the lives of older adults and their caregivers, now and post-pandemic. Through this new research, AGE-WELL will continue to provide technology-based solutions that improve health, quality of life and independence―and to advance Canada’s AgeTech sector,” said Dr. Alex Mihailidis, Scientific Co-Director and CEO of AGE-WELL, Canada’s Technology and Aging Network.
In total, the 22 projects are led by 48 researchers based at 20 universities and research centres across Canada. The teams include more than 100 partners from industry, government and not-for-profit organizations. Older adults and caregivers are deeply involved in the research.
Collectively, the projects tackle research questions across AGE-WELL’s eight challenge areas, which are designed to move the dial when it comes to supporting older adults and caregivers in Canada—and achieving social and economic impact. The challenge areas are:
- Supportive Homes & Communities
- Health Care & Health Service Delivery
- Autonomy & Independence
- Cognitive Health & Dementia
- Mobility & Transportation
- Healthy Lifestyles & Wellness
- Staying Connected
- Financial Wellness & Employment
As with all AGE-WELL research, the new projects take a transdisciplinary approach that breaks down silos between disciplines and sectors. The focus is on solutions that have real-world impact. For example:
- The design of apps to empower older adults to engage in the digital world, reduce social isolation and facilitate meaningful connections to family members.
- The development, implementation and evaluation of a culturally safe, Indigenous-led diabetes and weight management telehealth service focused on Indigenous older adults.
- The development of a unique platform to accelerate the validation, commercialization and adoption of homecare technologies such as smart home systems and home health devices.
- An evaluation of using wearable technologies to prevent fall-related hip fractures and traumatic brain injuries in older adults.
“The pandemic has underscored the social and health challenges older adults and caregivers have been contending with even before the COVID-19 crisis,” said Dr. Andrew Sixsmith, AGE-WELL Scientific Co-Director. “AGE-WELL researchers are focused on these pervasive issues, such as social isolation, and are incorporating key learnings from the ongoing pandemic experience as they further explore and develop technology-based solutions.”
The projects announced today are funded for three years through AGE-WELL’s newly-launched Core Research Program (CRP) and Platform Project Program (PPP). The CRP consists of large-scale projects that take a holistic approach by not only focusing on the technology, but also the practice, policy and service delivery models that are needed for the solution to be effective. The PPP includes projects that propose methodologies or products that could be applied across the whole AGE-WELL network.
AGE-WELL continues to support post-discovery research through its Strategic Investment Program (SIP) Accelerator. AGE-WELL also has four innovation hubs that engage stakeholders at the local level while pushing its agenda nationwide.
- Nearly 40% of the projects’ researchers are new AGE-WELL network investigators.
- Two projects focus on engaging Indigenous communities.
- 10 projects are co-led by early career researchers.
- The eight challenge areas resulted from an extensive review of federal and provincial policy priorities and consultations with 1,000 researchers, partners, older adults and caregivers across Canada.