Dr. Allison Sekuler
Managing Director, CABHI
& Vice President, Research, Baycrest
When John McCaffery was diagnosed with young onset dementia at age 48, his wife Cindy worried about how he’d keep his day-to-day life active and fulfilling. Her passion for supporting John and others with the same experience eventually led her to cofound YouQuest, a thriving community service providing social, physical, and cognitive programming for people in the Calgary area living with young onset dementia.
Driving innovation in aging and brain health
YouQuest is one of the many innovations made possible by the Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation (CABHI), powered by Baycrest — a first-of-its-kind solution accelerator driving innovation in the aging and brain health sector, with a focus on dementia.
As Canada’s older adult population continues to grow at an unprecedented rate, so does the prevalence of age-related brain disorders. Technology will play a major role in the way we understand and treat these conditions, and the quality of life of seniors, their families, and caregivers. Since its founding in 2015, CABHI has launched 279 projects that support the development, evaluation, and introduction of new products, practices, processes, and services. The organization’s innovation projects engaged more than 53,000 Canadian seniors and caregivers.
Helping innovative solutions reach the people who need them
CABHI helps Ontario and Canadian companies with novel solutions in aging and brain health test their technologies and services in real-world environments, by brokering and funding validation trials.
“We ensure these vital solutions find their way into the hands of the people who need them most and aren’t stopped by a lack of funding or resources,” says Dr. Allison Sekuler, CABHI’s Managing Director and Vice President, Research at Baycrest.
Global reach, homegrown impact
The organization’s pan-Canadian and global network of partners helps source and then bring the best aging tech
solutions from around the world to Canadians, while also helping Canadian innovators reach global markets. All the while, CABHI creates greater efficiencies and unlocks potential savings for both the federal and provincial health care systems. It also stimulates economic opportunities in Ontario and nationally, creating and sustaining highly skilled jobs in the health care innovation sector.
“Aging affects all of us,” says Dr. Sekuler. “The innovations we support are redefining the future of healthy aging for seniors and families in Ontario, across Canada, and around the world.”
Some Examples of CABHI-Supported Innovations
Retinal scan for early Alzheimer’s detection
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, yet there’s no standard screening system for the disease. CABHI-supported Ontario startup RetiSpec has developed a non-invasive eye scanner that uses artificial intelligence to identify people at risk of developing Alzheimer’s. This technology has the potential to lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment, improving the lives of aging Canadians and generating cost savings for the health care system.
A Happy SafelyYou user
Real-time falls detection
Preventable falls are common among people living with dementia. CABHI-supported SafelyYou uses cameras enabled with artificial intelligence (AI) to detect resident falls in long-term care faster and prevent future falls. A spinoff from UC Berkeley’s Artificial Intelligence Research Lab — one of the top five AI research groups in the world — SafelyYou helps to keep residents safe and reduce visits to the emergency room. A full-scale adoption of the technology could save the Canadian health care system approximately $1.47 billion annually.
Dr. Carrie Bourassa
Project Lead, CABHI
Technology to support Indigenous seniors
One CABHI-supported project is introducing a group of First Nations seniors living with dementia to educational apps in different Indigenous languages. The project is exploring how language development technology affects the seniors’ cognitive stimulation and helps family caregivers adopt tech into their care routines. Participating seniors and caregivers are from 11 First Nations in southern Saskatchewan, represented by the File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council.