Symposium Addresses Successful Aging
By 2050, more than 25 percent of the U.S. population will be aged 65 and older. They will largely reside in rural areas of the country where general health care services and long-term care may be more difficult to access. It will be important, then, to develop ways of allowing people to remain in their homes as they age while addressing the challenges associated with aging, such as the development of chronic health problems, reductions in mobility, and social isolation.
The answer may lie in innovating new, cost-effective technologies that can be installed in homes to help aging individuals maintain their independence and quality of life.
Toward this end, the Center on Health, Aging, and Disability (CHAD) within the College of Applied Health Sciences has initiated a research program called Collaborations in Healthy Aging Research and Technology, or CHART. Directed by Dr. Wendy Rogers, Khan Professor of Applied Health Sciences in the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health, CHART grew out of a joint proposal by AHS and the College of Engineering to leverage campus, community, and corporate resources to enable successful aging through fundamental and translational research, technology development, education, and policy guidance.
In the first symposium to introduce CHART to a wider audience, held on November 6, Dr. Rogers explained the initiative’s comprehensive approach.
“We propose to impact higher education at all levels, from developing undergraduate degree programs and certificate programs for professionals who work with older populations to inviting visiting scholars from around the world to work in our labs and testing sites,” she said. Additionally, CHART will seek partnerships with local, state, and national agencies and organizations such as AARP and the Alzheimer’s Association, as well as tapping into resources offered through such initiatives as the National Science Foundation’s Big Ideas program and the National Academy of Engineering’s Grand Challenges program.
The crowning jewel of CHART will be the LIFE Home (Living in Interactive Future Environments), a stand-alone research facility to be built on the south campus in which scholars will develop and test new technologies that assist older adults in living independently in their homes and communities. “These technologies may include in-home and wearable sensors, smart appliances, assistive technologies, and communication devices,” Dr. Rogers said. “Through human and computer interfaces, we hope to facilitate interactions between aging individuals and their health care providers, as well as keeping them connected to what’s going on within their communities.”
In addition to CHART, symposium participants learned about a computing system called HomeAssist that is under development at the University of Bordeaux in France from Dr. Charles Consel, head of the research group developing the system. Greg Walker, research director at Continental Automated Buildings also attended, sharing an overview of the state of smart home technology.