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Home » Innovations » Innovations in Aging and Dementia: From Ideas to Impact

Dr. Allison Sekuler

Managing Director, CABHI & Rotman Research Institute Vice President of Research, Baycrest

Older adults living with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia, and their caregivers, have reason to feel supported thanks to new solutions being developed in Ontario and across Canada. But the creation of solutions is never enough.

The Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation (CABHI), powered by Baycrest, is playing a critical role by enabling those solutions to be tested in real-world care settings, to the benefit of all of us as we age.

Transforming health care and health systems

With the growing dementia challenge in Canada, CABHI’s work is timely. As an innovation accelerator, the organization is at the forefront of getting innovations and technologies into the hands of dementia patients and their families. “The Canadian population is aging faster now than at any time in our history. The latest estimates suggest that nearly 750,000 Canadians are currently living with dementia, and that number is expected to double in the next 20 years,” says Dr. Allison Sekuler, Managing Director of CABHI, Sandra A. Rotman Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience and Vice President of Research at Baycrest.

As more and more seniors with dementia require care, their family members and caregivers will need access to resources and support. To address these needs, over the past four years CABHI has funded over 200 projects from across Canada and around the world and validated them in more than 100 care sites. CABHI focuses on four innovation themes — caregiver support, care coordination and navigation, cognitive health, and aging in the place of one’s choice. “We consider these to be four grand challenges of dementia care,” says Dr. Sekuler. “Although our focus is dementia, many of the solutions we support could be adapted for broader use — for example, tools to navigate our complex health care systems.”

As more and more seniors with dementia require care, their family members and caregivers will need access to resources and support.

Driving a culture of innovation

Sometimes the best ideas come from unexpected places. Frontline care workers have deep understanding of the needs of individuals living with dementia, but they may not fit the mold of the traditional innovator or entrepreneur. CABHI provides these individuals with much more than just funding. It also provides the support to help them bring their ideas to life, as well as access to its global networks of partners, including distribution channels, science and business advisors, and funders.

“We recognize that innovation can come from anywhere and anyone. CABHI takes a customized approach in order to get these innovations to market,” says Dr. Sekuler. For example, CABHI projects benefit from access to a dedicated group of older adults volunteering on a Seniors Advisory Panel. “With the perspective of their lived experience, they provide personalized feedback to refine and enhance solutions or innovations, to get them to market and into the hands of people who need them faster,” says Dr. Sekuler.

We recognize that innovation can come from anywhere and anyone.

Dr. Allison Sekuler, Managing Director of CABHI

Creating jobs and growing Canada’s economy

In addition to benefitting and supporting Canadians living with dementia, CABHI is boosting the Canadian economy. “By helping Canadian companies prove the scientific efficacy and impact of their innovations in real-world settings, we’re filling a critical gap and helping companies raise capital, enhance their profile, and reach international markets,” says Dr. Sekuler. Similarly, by funding international companies, Canada benefits from foreign investment as some global companies set up offices, sales, and distribution locally, while Canadians gain access to the most innovative solutions for dementia from around the world.

It takes the collaborative efforts of everyone to prevent, detect, and care for dementia in Canada. CABHI provides the vehicle for innovators to connect with unique services, partnerships, and collaboration opportunities.

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