Dr. Alex Mihailidis
Scientific Director & CEO, AGE-WELL
AGE-WELL, Canada’s technology and aging network, has brought bright minds together to deliver new technologies — to support older adults.
Everyone is wondering what the world will look like post-COVID-19. One thing for sure is that technology will play a much greater role in the lives of older adults. The pandemic has shown how technology can help to combat challenges such as social isolation and loneliness, and help older people live safely and independently.
Judy Tinning, 75, is among many older Canadians who have upped their use of technology during the pandemic. “I didn’t use it much before, but I use it for absolutely everything now,” says the retired teacher, who lives in Toronto. “Just about everything we do now in terms of education, culture, exercise, and socializing is tied to the computer.” Tinning and her husband have full and active lives, and technology has enabled them to stay connected with their family, including their grandchildren, to socialize with friends, to participate in clubs and groups, to watch live virtual concerts, and to attend online courses. Tinning is even ordering their groceries online and has dabbled in telehealth.
Driving change that improves quality of life
New and emerging technologies are essential for the future of aging in Canada. Not only do technology-driven solutions support older adults and caregivers, they also help ease pressures on our health care system and long-term care facilities.
As Canada’s technology and aging network, AGE-WELL was created to drive this change and to facilitate the development of technologies and services for healthy aging. AGE-WELL includes over 250 researchers at 45 universities and research centres across Canada, 750 trainees, and more than 400 industry, government, and non-profit partners. Almost 5,000 older adults and caregivers are involved to ensure that products are user-friendly.
“We’re working together to deliver technology-based solutions that help older adults remain in their own homes and communities for as long as possible,” says Dr. Alex Mihailidis, Scientific Director and CEO of AGE-WELL.
Practical, cost-effective solutions to real-world challenges
AGE-WELL’s wide network, which supports over 50 startups, is making extraordinary progress in developing useful, cost-effective solutions to the real-world challenges faced by older Canadians and caregivers.
From smart-home sensors and remote therapies to virtual exercise programs and communications systems, the network’s innovations are making a meaningful difference in people’s lives. Take, for example, a messaging platform called FamliNet that offers seniors with little or no computer skills an easier way to stay in contact with family and friends. Additionally, there are medication and other reminder systems for people living with dementia and apps that help people manage their health at home. In all, over 100 technologies, services, policies, and practices are in development or already in use.
AGE-WELL is also helping to build a thriving AgeTech sector that’s part of Canada’s economic recovery. “We’re driving the sector forward so that everyone is pulling in the same direction to ensure that technologies are actually having an impact on people’s lives and generating social and economic benefits for Canadians,” says Dr. Mihailidis.
Moving forward, AgeTech must be a part of the solution for Canadians to age in place, to alleviate pressure on our health system, and to empower aging Canadians and caregivers.
Join in AgeTech Innovation Week, October 4-8, 2021. Hosted by AGE-WELL, this free virtual event is for anyone with an interest in technology and aging.