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Update From Modern Aging Singapore: Kickoff Workshop

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Modern Aging Singapore kicked off in the middle of August. So far, the program has seen active participation and support from aspiring entrepreneurs. About three hundred students, health practitioners, researchers, and members of the public attended the Kickoff Workshop held at the NUS I Cube Building Auditorium on the morning of August 15.

Attendees were treated to four presentations from experts in aging and business: Overview of Aging by Prof. Angelique Chan of Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, Healthcare and Business by Dr. Jeremy Lim of Oliver Wyman, Home and Center Based Care by Dr. Ng Wai Chong of the Tsao Foundation, and Product Design for Seniors by Hunn Wai of design firm Lanzavecchia + Wai.

MA2Prof. Chan highlighted some key trends and statistics on aging in Singapore. One surprising point was the high prevalence of social isolation among seniors here. This finding spurred aspiring entrepreneurs to think of novel solutions to address this trend.

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Dr. Lim went on to outline the aging sector in terms of business potential. One suprising finding, according to theNational Center for Policy Analysis, is the average net worth in 2010 was 848,000 USD for sixty five to seventy four year olds and nearly seven hundred thousand dollars for those above seventy five. These figures encouraged aspiring entrepreneurs to enter the aging sector.

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Dr. Ng discussed the current status of home and center based care in Singapore. He highlighted specific needs in these care settings frequently used by seniors. This discussion allowed aspiring entrepreneurs to hone in on key areas of need and address these pain points. For example, some challenges in these settings include the quick and painless transferring of patients from bed to chair and vice versa, and increasing the time health practitioners can spend with seniors.

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Mr. Wai rounded off the presentations with insights from product and design perspectives. He introduced examples of good design for seniors, such as mixed use canes and walkers, or stylish back braces. This presentation especially inspired aspiring entrepreneurs to consider seniors’ lifestyles and tastes when introducing new product ideas.

In addition to expert presentations, attendees also heard two senior role models share their life experiences and lessons. Younger members of the audience seemed glad to hear the wise advice dispensed by the seniors. The kickoff event concluded with a networking lunch. Participants became so engrossed in conversations around aging that they lingered past the scheduled end time.

Currently, Modern Aging Singapore has progressed to the business curriculum and selection phase. The top twenty teams have been selected and paired with industry mentors to hone their business ideas. The twenty teams will soon be pitching at the semifinals judging event for the top six spots. Meanwhile, all participants of Modern Aging Singapore are able to access the same business and aging curriculum on the Modern Aging Online Learning Portal to continue learning and improving their business ideas. If you would like to access the Portal, please write an email request to info@modernaging.org.

Find out more about Modern Aging, at www.modernaging.org.

Modern Aging: Ask for Answers

This week’s Modern Aging blog post comes from an American medical illustrator with a passion to improve health communication for elderly through visual media. Please read about the digital tool she is developing:

“I am excited to share with you an idea I have been developing as a social innovation for the elderly in health care. Today I will tell you about myself, and why I am considering the health needs of the elderly in Sweden. I will introduce the problem needing attention and how I propose to tackle it. Finally, I will let you know how you can connect with me if you would like to be part of this dialogue!

So who am I, and what brought me to Sweden?  Well, my name is Anneliese, and I am an American citizen with Swedish heritage from both sides of my family. In 2010 I traveled to the “motherland” to see where my farmor, and my mormors parents came from. While visiting, I bonded with new friends and distant relatives, but visiting with relatives from my grandparent’s generation over fika was particularly special for me. During that trip I decided I wanted to come back to Sweden to study and experience more of Swedish society.

While back in the US making plans to return to Sweden, I was witness to the failing health and death of my mormor, Anna, and morfar, Winston. Winston lost his life, at 93 years of age, as a result of Alzheimer’s. While Anna, who suffered from morbidities common in the elderly, died only a few months after at 91 years. These experiences with my own family helped me to realize many of the challenges facing our aging global population.  Now, I look to apply my education, work experience and research to help address these challenges.

My recent research has focused on the communications between patients and their care providers. The clinical setting can present many communication barriers, including a power dynamic between the patient, with limited knowledge, and the care provider, with greater knowledge. For the elderly, dementia, learning style, literacy and language skills can also contribute to communication barriers they face when determining their health needs. Further, many elderly patients have an increased number of health appointments where they might struggle to remember what to ask their care provider, or may not be aware of the proper questions to ask. Additionally, they will need to remember details communicated to them after an appointment. If not recorded, these details can be easily forgotten. My solution is simple, “Ask for Answers.”

Ask for Answers is a media based tool (web/app), which aims to arm the aging population with the questions they should have available when visiting a health provider. The questions target their specific communication needs and are broken down by medical specialties to be more effective. Patients can use the electronic interface to access their questions, type answers, exchange email with the provider, record audio of answers – which can then be transcribed, and even take photos of drawings or notes. The information would then be accessible later when the patient may have trouble recalling details from the appointment, or need to share them with another care provider.

Ask for Answers is centered on improving health communications between care providers and the elderly. It is a simple, user-friendly tool that focuses on enabling and empowering aging patients to better manage their health. With the aid of Ask for Answers, patient knowledge and satisfaction may increase, potentially resulting in improved health outcomes.”

Written by Anneliese Lilienthal

 

Source: http://socialinnovation.se/sv/future-of-elderly-care-may-be-answered-by-the-questions-we-ask/Visual health communication

Modern Aging ideas – new blog series

Our most loyal readers on Silverevolution may remember the program Modern Aging that we wrote about in April (see the post HERE). This innovation program for young entrepreneurs with ideas for the elderly kicked off in August this year. A group of 7 entrepreneurs have been selected based on the potential of their improvement idea as well as their motivation to lead the way in transforming the elderly care sector. We are currently in the act of developing their ideas with the help of mentors and coaches and in close discussion with the elderly themselves. During the next couple of weeks the participants will blog about their ideas on the Forum for Social Innovation Sweden and we will post them here on Silverevolution as well.

First in line; introducing himself and his idea is Victor Nordlind. This is his story:

One may ask why a person who is attending one of the world’s top hotel schools would want to pursue a career in developing and improving the elderly care. Most people expected me to walk in my father’s footsteps in the restaurant industry, rather than radically changing field to Elderly care.

But as I was required to carry out a feasibility study about an existing retirement home during my first two years at Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL), I was given the opportunity to see the true potential within this industry. It encouraged me to apply for an internship within elderly care, which I am currently pursuing within Strategy and Business Development at Ambea Sverige, whose affiliation is Carema Care. For me, elderly care is an industry where innovation is necessary in order to provide the correct quality of life, which in my opinion is the meaning of hospitality.

When I first came across the Modern Aging program, I did not have a specific idea for elderly in mind. When developing the idea, it was equally important to link the project back to my studies, as to work with something that may truly make a difference within the elderly sector. I decided to contact a friend who has several years of experience within elderly care, and who is currently working in a nursing home here in Sweden. I was convinced that my determination combined with her extensive experience would bring something innovative out of the meeting.

As expected, we had a very interesting discussion, which brought several ideas to the table. Most of them were linked to the use of more technology, which is a frequently debated topic when talking about improvements within elderly care. The trend of using technology to improve efficiency is relatively new in the industry while it has been an essential part of the hotel and restaurant industry for years. More and more apps and other technical devices are being developed to simplify everyday activities for the elderly.

However, one question that came up during the meeting was “how can we use technology to better involve the caregivers within elderly care?” These professionals have valuable knowledge and experience, which they should be able to share easily. With today’s progression of social media and online forums, a place for caregivers and other health care professionals to meet online should be developed. There, they may share ideas, knowledge and ask questions to one another over space and time. This will not only simplify and streamline the daily work, but it will also improve the quality of care in nursing homes in the long run. A forum like this needs to be strictly confidential with only registered users permitted access. The idea is also that this platform shall be the forum that compiles and disseminates knowledge of the latest advances in medical, social and technological solutions for the elderly.

My current internship at Ambea combined with the Modern Aging program has helped me to better understand the current market as well as the future prospects of elderly care in Sweden. To date, Modern Aging has hosted several seminars and workshops carried out by inspiring guest speakers from various fields, such as young entrepreneurs, lecturers from top universities, and professionals from the public health care sector. With this promising start, I am curious and eager to find out where the program is going to take us.

Victor Nordlindphoto_1

“Digital Aging”: Trend II – Smart Home International Project

EU-funded unique international project aimed at providing safer and healthier aging is led by researchers at Örebro University (Sweden) in collaboration with twelve partners from six countries Sweden, Italy, Spain, Portugal, UK and Slovenia. The unique feature of the project is that it will provide seniors with smart home system combining both long-term health evaluation and caregiver-user interaction.

The project is called “Giraff” and received its name after remotely controlled mobile robot “Giraff” equipped with a display and loudspeaker. This robot lays in the heart of the smart home system in combination with continuous monitoring through a network of sensors.

"Giraff" system (to the right) enables communication between a senior and a caregiver while being at home

“Giraff” system (to the right) enables communication between a senior and a caregiver while being at home

Multiple sensors are installed in the apartment and can measure blood pressure, body temperature and register movements. Data from the sensors will enable to identify if someone takes a sudden fall or doesn’t move for unusually long time, analyze sleeping pattern and level of physical activity, which can be of particular importance for physiotherapists. All the data collected from sensors are analyzed by an intelligent system, which is able to quickly alert the caregiver if something goes wrong and to conduct long-term health assessment of the seniors, thus giving caregivers a tool to adapt care plan to guarantee better quality of life.

Robot “Giraff” is designed for conducting virtual visits based on users need or on caregiver’s  and family member’s intention to talk to the senior about his/her health measurements. “Giraff” can move autonomously around the apartment, find where senior is located or follow the senior around the apartment during “virtual” physician visit. In future, it will be senior’s decision on whether to use “Giraff” to have a virtual meeting with caregiver or make a journey to the healthcare center instead.

When it comes to privacy of health data, it will be only user who can allow access to health information for concerned family members or other caregivers. This will contribute to creating a user-friendly environment, where seniors will understand that they can receive an opportunity to improve their quality of life while feeling secure about privacy of their data.

The project has come to a testing phase in 15 real homes in Sweden, Italy and Spain.  Last news tells about system installation in the homes of elderly women living alone in Malaga (Spain) and in Örebro (Sweden).

It is inspiring to see how modern digital technology can improve quality of life for elderly people!  Stay tuned for future blog posts on digital technology for elderly care.

References:

http://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/en/news/smart-homes-technology-tested-real-homes-giraffplus-project

http://www.giraffplus.eu/index.php?option=com_content&view=frontpage&Itemid=54&lang=en

Picture taken from:

http://www.oru.se/English/News/Smart-homes-technology-tested-in-Orebro/

“Digital Aging”: Trend I – Remote Home Monitoring

For the last decades, development of Information Technologies (IT) and sensor technologies has resulted in a great number of new services such as smartphones, tablet PC’s, wireless video games, robotics, Skype to name a few. With some delay in time these technology advances started to change the way healthcare services are delivered with areas of mhealth (using mobile devices for healthcare service delivery) and telehealth (delivering healthcare over distance) gaining wider acceptance. So now it is time to create a series of blog posts under the common name “Digital aging” to highlight solutions that are already available and can be used. Stay tuned to the next blog posts, if You want to know more.

active senior boxing

Active Senior

One of the trends of applying new technologies is remote home monitoring of elderly people using a set of sensor devices and wireless data transfer. The main advantage of these tools is that it gives today’s active seniors and their families freedom, security and the ability to manage their health at home or away. Basic functionality of the remote home monitoring system can include:

  • automated fall detection
  • location tracking
  • remotely managed two-way voice
  • alert system

Additionally, some of the systems support integration with other health measuring devices and can track blood pressure, weight, blood glucose level and even transfer all these data to the patient’s Electronic Health Record (I will tell more about it in the later posts)

How it works?

A senior active citizen will wear a lightweight pendant everywhere he goes: inside the house, to the library, swimming pool, supermarket, park, etc. This pendant will be waterproof, easy-to-use and not necessary to be taken off even while charging and constantly serving as a part of a “Mobile personal emergency response service”, which will track the senior person movements, detect any case of possible fall and location of a senior and send alert to the caregiver/assistant.

As an example, Susanne, 82 years old, wants to live an active life and not be tied to her healthcare team, which includes her family and healthcare professionals. She wears a light device with her anywhere she goes. While walking in the park, Susanne feels dizzy and presses the help button on the device, thus initiating a two-way voice conversation with a support center. She tells about her condition and the support center assistant makes a decision, whom to send to help Susanne to get home safely. In case Susanne falls, the system will automatically track her location and an ambulance car will pick her up.

I believe such techniques are very inspiring and these types of solutions are already on the market with for example “GoSafe” and “Libris”. Moreover, in US, AT&T is offering “Libris” solution as part of a managed service for doctors and health insurers already. Why not set “free” both active seniors and their families?

References:

http://philipslifelinegosafe.com/new/

http://numera.com/platform-products/numera-libris

“AT&T and Numera Combine Personal Safety and Home Health management with New Personal Health Gateway”. Accessed at: http://www.att.com/gen/press-room?pid=23809&cdvn=news&newsarticleid=36052

Image : www.freedigitalphotos.net

Elderly with iPads

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A while ago I received an email from a developer at the Social Service Center in a municipality located in the south of Sweden. She had bought 30 iPads that she had distributed to disabled, elderly, drug addicts and mentally ill adults within the municipality. She wrote to me as she and her colleagues were amazed by the results! A young mentally disabled man who normally did not move much, all of a sudden became very active to everybody’s surprise. The personnel filmed him with an iPhone and sent to his parents who were thrilled. An elderly Czech woman with dementia got the opportunity to listen to her native language on the iPad. The happiness that brought to her was enormous. An elderly man known for always acting out and being aggressive became calm and happy simply from watching puppies on the iPad. An elderly lady photographed herself from different angles making sure she looked her best in every picture, strengthening her self-image and self-esteem.

In addition, the elderly could easily stay in touch with relatives, near and far, by using Skype. The drug addicts were able to go online and read magazines, play games, paint and play instrument through the iPad.

The woman who emailed me concluded by saying that these changes in behavior may look small and insignificant but for the people going through this it is of great importance. This is a great example on how we can update the way we provide care for the elderly and invite them to take part of the high-tech devices that have already become a natural part of our lives.

Let the cyber knife take away your pain

In 1983, the World Health Organization put cancer as a leading cause of death in South Korea. It has an immense impact with 64,000 people dying every year in Korea due to the disease. Luckily, the latest development in cancer treatment is available in Korea: Cyber Knife Radio Surgery. There are currently some hundred cyber knife systems installed in only few countries in the world. Korea was among the first to implement it and today, it has one of the most numbers of installed systems. Compared to UK and US, a cyber knife treatment costs less in Korea.

Cyber knife systems have been used to treat tumors in upper spine, head and neck since 1999 and in the rest of the body since 2001. John Adler invented the system for cancer treatment. It is made to deliver radiotherapy for malign and benign cancer tumors at all stages in specific parts of the body in a non-invasive way. It uses a real-time image guide to find tumors even if the patient is moving, and to deliver radiation with highest accuracy. It eliminates the need for invasive surgeries.

There are various benefits of the technique, e.g. faster procedures in comparison to other radiation methods, no requirement for hospitalization, no need for anesthesia and almost no post-operative care. Cyber knife surgery can even be used for tumors that have already received the maximum dose of radiation. There are no incisions or cuts, and recovery time is not needed. It can even be used for tumors in the spine, which are hard to treat because they are moving while the patient is breathing. The cyber knife can pinpoint the exact location of the tumor and beam into it without damaging other surrounding tissues. That leads to a shorter treatment period and a quick recovery. Treatment can be finished in less than five days on an outpatient basis, without spending a single night at the hospital.

One hospital in Korea is specialized in treating spine cancer. The oncology experts in Korea are highly trained and have years of experience in radiology and cyber knife cancer treatment. Medical staff in Korean hospitals are English speaking and communication will not be a problem when getting medical treatment there.

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Cyber knife surgery abroad:
http://www.medicaltourismco.com/oncology/cyber knife-cancer-radiotherapy-overseas.php

Cyber knife Treatment for Spine Cancer
http://www.medicaltourismco.com/south-korea-hospitals/cyber knife-surgery-korea.php