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Technologies for Aging Well: Research to Innovation


Speaker Info:

Dr. Andrew Sixsmith
Professor, Department of Gerontology
Simon Fraser University
Ms. Rowena Rizzotti
Vice President Operations
Retirement Concepts


The aging of the population presents many challenges, not least how services can be improved in order to enhance the health and quality of life of older people in the context of limited financial resources. In this context, information and communication technologies (ICTs) have a huge potential to improve services and enhance the well-being and social participation of older people. ICTs for older people have emerged as a major component of R&D programmes worldwide. While technical challenges remain important, future research must focus on innovation as the key goal and respond to respond to a number of non-technical factors if the benefits of ICTs are to be realised. Most research in the area has had a ‘technology-push’ approach that has typically failed to appreciate the significant challenges to creating viable service processes and business models that include technological innovation. Making technology solutions a reality in terms of real-world products and services requires addressing these challenges in a way that creates positive outcomes for all the stakeholders involved. Indeed, our ideas of knowledge translation must go beyond the typical end-of-project dissemination approach to one that includes stakeholder participation and business modelling as fundamental to the whole R&D cycle, so that technologies are congruent with the real-world opportunities and constraints.


11:30 AM PDT - TUES, MAR 11, 2014


About the Speaker:

Andrew Sixsmith was appointed Professor and Director of the Gerontology Research Centre at SFU in September 2007 and a Deputy Director of the SFU Interdisciplinary Research in the Mathematical and Computational Sciences (IRMACS) Centre in 2013. Dr. Sixsmith has been a member of the British Society of Gerontology Executive Committee and has been UK representative on the EU's COST-A5 Committee on Ageing and Technology. Since 2000 he has developed research and teaching links with 26 universities worldwide and has actively collaborated with over 30 major commercial and government organisations.

Dr. Sixsmith's research has two main themes. Firstly, he has extensive research experience within the area of health and quality of life of older people and the role of health and social care services. Recent work includes: the development of management tools for health and social care performance evaluation and decision-making (EU-funded CareKeys project) and; the links between the home environment and health and well-being outcomes (EU-funded ENABLE-AGE project). Secondly, he has been particularly involved in the strategic development of research in the area of technology for independent living. Andrew has used gerontological knowledge, theories and methods to provide input into user centred design and development of community care technologies (telecare) to facilitate and deliver health and social care services for older and disabled people. Currently the EU-funded SOPRANO project aims to explore the potential of "ambient assisted living" (intuitive interfaces and smart environments) to support independent living.


Rowena Rizzotti is a highly successful health care leader with over twenty five years experience in both the private and public sectors. A recognized leader in large scale change management processes including Innovation and quality improvement initiatives, Rowena has a significant senior-level experience in multi-site, complex business environments with a very strong understanding of clinical operations and a passion to bring research and evidence into all planning and health care service delivery.


Spring 2014 Series Theme:

The topic of the Spring 2014 Coast to Coast seminar series is "Technology for Aging Well" and it is built around a pan-Canadian project titled AGE-WELL (Aging Gracefully across Environments using Technology to Support Wellness, Engagement and Long Life.) The focus of the series will be a discussion how to use technology in helping support the Canadian aging population to ensure that all Canadians can grow older with dignity and grace.

One of the goals of AGE-WELL is to address socio-economic, ethical, and regulatory challenges related to the development and commercialization of technologies for aging. This includes generating new knowledge about the technology needs of older adults and their caregivers and creating and producing high-quality and sustainable health care solutions for older Canadians. Partners in AGE-WELL include the University Health Network, Simon Fraser University, IBM, Phillips Healtcare, and Fraser Health.

Coordinators of the series are Dr. Andrew Sixsmith, Director of the SFU Gerontology Research Centre and a Deputy Director of the IRMACS Centre, and Dr. Alex Mihailidis, the Barbara G. Stymiest Research Chair in Rehabilitation Technology at the University of Toronto and Toronto Rehab Institute.

The speakers in the series will speak from two perspectives:

  • The perspective of researchers that have successfully built and/or are in the process of building advanced technologies such as communications technologies, robotics, mobile networks, and artificial intelligence with aims to encourage increased independence and safety in the home and to support “aging in place”.
  • The perspective of researchers that have extensive experience within the area of health and quality of life of older people and the role of health and social care services.

This seminar series will be of interest to health and social scientists, engineers, and industry who are either carrying out and/or about to embark on development of innovative technology-based solutions that promote independence and healthy aging and optimize health care resource utilization.

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