Understanding the Needs of Older Adults

To most effectively harness the power of technology and translate it into practical solutions, it is crucial that the people who will be using the technology are consulted and fully involved from the early stages right through product testing and marketing. Researchers in this theme are centred on understanding the needs, preferences and abilities of older adults related to technology, and on developing tools to include them in all stages of technology development. Traditionally, end-users have been excluded from most of the technology development and testing process, often being brought in at the end to comment on the finished product, device or service. Outcomes of our research will have a significant influence over the technology and aging field.

Workpackage Leads
  • Arlene Astell, Toronto Rehab Institute, University Health Network


Core Research Projects

Indigenous Technology Needs Exploration – Saskatchewan – 1.1a ITNE-SK

This project, in partnership with the Community Research Advisory Committee at the File Hills Qu'Appelle Tribal Council, is examining the ways Indigenous communities use technology in relation to 1) pathways to care for Indigenous older adults who are affected by dementia and 2) the experiences of their caregivers.

Award Term: April 1, 2018 - March 31, 2020

AGE-WELL NCE Investment: $157,130 

 

Project Leads
  • Carrie Bourassa, University of Saskatchewan
Researchers
  • Megan O'Connell, University of Saskatchewan

 

Aging Technologies for Indigenous Communities in Ontario – 1.1b ATICON

The ATICON team’s goal is to increase the accessibility and cultural safety of technologies developed through the AGE-WELL network. They do this through community-based research with Anishinaabe adults and by supporting meaningful knowledge mobilization activities between Indigenous community partners and AGE-WELL investigators.

Award Term: April 1, 2018 - March 31, 2020

AGE-WELL NCE Investment: $132,130

 

Project Leads
  • Kristen Jacklin, University of Minnesota
Researchers
  • Wayne Warry, Laurentian University

 

Tools for User Needs Gathering to Support Technology Engagement – 1.2 TUNGSTEN

This project is creating tools to involve older adults in technology development, from the early stages of design and testing of products, right through to marketing and advertising. These tools include products such as decision support kits and an e-commerce platform for products for people living with dementia.

Award Term: April 1, 2015 - March 31, 2020

AGE-WELL NCE Investment: $753,031

Total Non-NCE Contribution: $8,626

 


     

Project Leads
  • Arlene Astell, Toronto Rehab Institute, University Health Network
  • Deborah Fels, Ryerson University
Researchers
  • Andrew Sixsmith, Simon Fraser University

 

Older Adults' Active Involvement in Aging and Technology Research and Development – 1.3 OA-INVOLVE

This project is developing best practices for incorporating the experience and insight of older adults in technology and aging research. It has equipped AGE-WELL researchers with practical guides to support implementation.

Award Term: April 1, 2015 - March 31, 2020

AGE-WELL NCE Investment: $800,853

Total Non-NCE Contribution: $1,950

Project Leads
  • Susan Kirkland, Dalhousie University
Researchers
  • Anne Kerr, Dalhousie University
  • Gregory Sanford, Dalhousie University
  • Ian Goldman, Independent
  • Janet Fowler, Independent
  • Jim Mann, Independent
  • Kieran O'Doherty, University of Guelph
  • Maryann Mancini, Dalhousie University
  • Pia Kontos, Toronto Rehab Institute/University of Toronto
  • Trudie Helmke, Independent
  • Winnie Houston, Independent

 

Feasibility of mixed reality technologies for people with dementia – 1.5-CAT

People with dementia are keen to continue their everyday activities but require support to do so. It is established that people with dementia can benefit from current digital technologies such as smartphones and tablets, which have functions that we all rely on to help us manage our daily lives, such as calendars, schedulers and reminders as well as the social and communication functions. Newer devices, including Mixed Reality technologies, such as virtual reality and augmented reality, offer additional functions that could support people with dementia, but these have not been fully investigated. This study will examine the feasibility of Mixed Reality Technologies for use by people with dementia. This will include several different technologies that link the physical and virtual worlds in different ways, i.e. through headsets, screens and physical objects. We will invite 30 people with dementia to play a selection of games on different devices and observe them while they play. We will video-record their interactions and end the session with an interview about their experience interacting with the devices and games. The data will help us to identify which types of interaction are easiest, most comfortable and enjoyable for people with dementia. It will also tell us what does not work and what people do not like. This information will enable us to develop a framework for using Mixed Reality technologies to provide prompts and support to people with dementia in their everyday activities.

Project Leads
  • Arlene Astell, Toronto Rehab Institute, University Health Network

 

Evaluating the usability of interactive mobile technology for driver rehabilitation after stroke – 1.6-CAT

Resumption of driving is critical to the health and quality of life of the estimated 62,000 Canadians affected by stroke each year. As tablets are increasingly being adopted by older Canadians, there is an opportunity to use this technology to address a critical need in stroke rehabilitation for evidence-based driving interventions that are contextually relevant, accessible, and cost effective. In this study, we will conduct usability analysis of the iPad™ and DriveFocus® mobile app alongside individuals with stroke and their caregivers to develop training protocols and improve the user experience for this new form of driver retraining.

Project Leads
  • Brenda Vrkljan, McMaster University

 

Dancing for good health: The GERAS DANCE online community of learning – 1.7-SIP A5

Project Leads
  • Alexandra Papaioannou, McMaster University

 

 

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