Alzheimer’s Awareness Month: How Innovation is Improving the Lives of the World’s Seniors

Dr. Allison Sekuler, Managing Director of CABHI

Message from Dr. Allison Sekuler, Managing Director of CABHI; Sandra A. Rotman Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience and Vice-President of Research at Baycrest; Managing Director of the Rotman Research Institute; and Professor at the University of Toronto and McMaster University

January marks Alzheimer’s Awareness Month in Canada, a time to reflect on the journey of the many older adults, caregivers, and families impacted by dementia. The rise of dementia is one of the most urgent public health challenges faced by a global society living longer than ever before – and we are all affected.

According to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, the number of Canadians affected directly or indirectly by the disease is 1.1 million. One out of every five Canadians has cared for someone living with a form of dementia – and with 25,000 new cases of dementia diagnosed every year, that figure will only rise.

Innovation and technology play a crucial role in the way we understand and treat dementia, and effective aging and brain health solutions will make all the difference in the quality of life of older adults, their families, and caregivers. At the Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation (CABHI), powered by Baycrest, we are immersed in and dedicated to this work every day.

CABHI is successfully filling a critical, unmet need by accelerating innovations developed by researchers, clinicians, point-of-care workers, industry, and seniors’ care providers. Most importantly, we’re getting those innovations into the hands of those who need them as quickly as possible.

We now have 276 projects in our innovation pipeline. They are guided in their development by our dedicated Seniors Advisory Panel, scientific officers, and innovation advisors. Out of these projects, 143 products, practices, processes and services have been introduced into market or adopted by healthcare professionals. The number of our trial sites across North America has increased to over 120; and we have engaged more than 52,000 older adults and their families in our projects. That work would not be possible without the forward-looking founding support from the Canadian and Ontario governments, the Baycrest Foundation, and numerous public and private sector partners and donors.

CABHI-supported projects are working to solve some of the most pressing healthcare issues faced by families and communities across the country. They help us prevent, detect, and treat dementia, increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our healthcare systems, reduce unnecessary emergency room visits, and help decrease the need for hallway healthcare. Each of our solutions aligns with one or more of our strategic themes to enhance the health and well-being of older adults at risk for and living with dementia and their caregivers: aging in the place of one’s choice, caregiver support, care coordination and navigation, cognitive health, and solutions for Indigenous and rural communities.

Over the past five years, CABHI has elevated Ontario’s and Canada’s reputation as leading hubs of innovation and economic growth in aging and brain health. Companies in our pipeline are prospering, creating jobs, attracting funding, building Canadian connections, and establishing Canadian headquarters for foreign companies.

I encourage you to visit the CABHI blog over the upcoming month to learn more about CABHI-supported technologies, products and practices making a difference in the lives of older adults and their caregivers. Look out for upcoming features on:

  • How digital health solutions are helping seniors live longer and live better
  • Up-and-coming Canadian innovations in caregiver support
  • How CABHI-supported projects are impacting the aging experience in Indigenous communities across Canada
  • and more

I’m extremely proud of CABHI’s accomplishments. Having spent the past few months meeting with older adults, innovators, and caregivers to hear directly from them about the challenges they face and their hopes for the future, I am more certain than ever that the work CABHI does is critical to address their needs, concerns, and dreams. Together with our partners, investors, supporters, and innovators, CABHI’s work is making an important difference in the lives of seniors in Ontario, across Canada, and around the world. Together we can help create a world in which older adults live longer, live better, and live more.