Aging shouldn’t just be about adding more years to your life. It should be about adding more life to your years. It should be about thriving in your setting of choice and having access to resources that support your cognitive and physical health.
But for older adults aging at home, maintaining an independent, healthy lifestyle comes with significant challenges. Fewer access to community resources can place seniors at a greater risk of social isolation and poor mental health. This is especially true for seniors living in remote and rural areas.
As we navigate through COVID-19, physical distancing guidelines and limitations to public gatherings continue to negatively impact the well-being of aging Canadians. The Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation (CABHI) works with innovators from across Canada and around the world who are creating solutions to combat these challenges. We’ve listed some of these solutions below. From a virtual chat-bot to an at-home brain health assessment, these solutions demonstrate how aging and brain health innovations can guide seniors on their journey to healthy, active aging in the comfort of their own homes.
CABHI-supported healthcare start-up, MEMOTEXT, is leveraging its Ring of Support (RoS) system to act as an at-home health-check and COVID-19 screener for seniors. RoS is a personalized platform that also uses automated phone calls and Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant to provide users with daily medication and event reminders. The voice assistant also connects to virtual care provider, SE Health so that a nurse can be dispatched in case of an emergency. Caregivers can also receive corresponding updates through their mobile device. Since launching in early March 2020, RoS has been deployed in over 18,000 homes to support seniors during COVID-19.
Through a partnership with SE Health and funding support from CABHI, virtual mental health platform X2AI created Coach Cabi – a chatbot designed to help older adults improve their resilience and reduce depression, loneliness, and social isolation during COVID-19 and beyond. Built by clinical psychologists, Coach Cabi is a safe, on-demand, confidential, and stigma-free source of support that older adults can access via text message or voice-activated programs like Google Home and Amazon Alexa. To date, X2AI’s chatbot services have provided relief to more than 16 million people across six continents. With CABHI’s support, they’ve reached out to over 20,000 older adults experiencing social isolation.
A subsidiary of Baycrest, Cogniciti is a free online assessment tool that older adults can use to evaluate and maintain their cognitive health. While Cogniciti does not provide medical advice or a formal diagnosis, it does supply helpful information about brain function and memory. After completing the assessment, users receive a personalized test score and brain health report they can share with their doctors. The Cogniciti platform also comes with a library of resources for older adults and caregivers of people living with dementia, including brain health workshops and a Smart Tracker that helps users monitor their sleep, exercise, and diet patterns.
With dementia on the rise, providing support for the family caregiver will be more important than ever before. Baycrest@Home aims to fill important gaps in dementia care by empowering family members to care for their loved ones experiencing cognitive decline at home. Baycrest@Home works closely with CABHI to provide quality support to family caregivers using technology and innovative practices. Their integrated service offerings include helpful resources focused on system navigation and planning, safety in the home, caregiver support, virtual healthcare, and social engagement opportunities.
Baycrest and Canada’s National Ballet School bring together meaningful engagement and creative expression with their Sharing Dance Seniors Program. Sharing Dance Seniors is a safe and accessible dance program designed to support older adults on their health and wellness journeys, all from the comfort of their homes. The program offers both standing and seated dance options and takes participants through a creative experience that incorporates cognitive stimulation, physical activity, imagination, and familiar music. Each class is designed to adapt to a variety of cognitive and physical needs. Older adults can access Sharing Dance Seniors by visiting Canada’s National Ballet School website.