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Innovative technology for older adults on display in Regina

WATCH: Experts from across the country are letting people test technology aimed at solving problems people face as they get older – Mar 14, 2019

You can’t stop aging, but a group of researchers is trying to make it easier.

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Groundbreaking technology is on display in Regina with the hope of improving independence, confidence and better care as people get older.

“Stakeholders with whom we met, specifically long-term care administrators, told us that without this event, it would be extremely difficult for them to know and find out about these solutions,”  director of the University of Regina’s Centre on Aging and Health Thomas Hadjistavropoulos said.

“It takes an average of 17 years from research finding something that’s useful for patients to find its way into practice.”

It’s something that hits close to home for Robert Roycroft, who is recovering from a recent fall.

“All of a sudden, I realized I was on the floor. Just rolled off the bed and I was semi-conscious,” Roycroft said.

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The eight researchers presenting their work are associated with the AGE-WELL Network of National Centres of Excellence, which aims to improve quality of life for Canadian seniors and caregivers.

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One project includes horizontal and vertical lining to reduce balance, something Roycroft found fascinating.

The University of Toronto’s Mark Chignell is showcasing the cognitive centivizer, which works on cognitive function in the elderly. The experiential centivizer, is a driving simulator he hopes gives people who can’t travel a sense of accomplishment.

“The idea is the person can get out of the house, get out of the institution, and experience the world again,” Chignell said.

“We’re trying to give people the sense of doing a task and completing the task. In this case, shopping is a task they maybe can’t do anymore, but they can with this and they’re driving at the same time.”

The program also comes with pedals for virtual cycling.

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Curious onlookers checking out the interactive displays were impressed by what they saw.

“My mom was in her own home until she passed away,” Yvonne Bourgouin said. “The first app we saw would have been awesome because she liked to move and get her body moving, but as time went on it was more and more of an issue.”

Bourgouin’s friend Deena Arthur agreed.

“My mom was in a really good care facility for the last few years of her life. I think it would have been interesting if they had had something like the whack-a-mole game and the centivizer in a central location so they could just go play it.”

For Hadjistavropoulos, there’s a specific focus on the early and late stages of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

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He teamed up with Babak Taati of the University of Toronto to develop software that can detect levels of pain in patients who have problems communicating through a webcam.

“Once technology development is complete later this year, we’re going to install this technology in long-term care facilities in Regina for evaluation and testing,” Taati said.

The researchers will meet with the province and Saskatchewan Health Authority on Friday in hopes of making this kind of technology more readily accessible.


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