Lunch ‘N Learn with AGE-WELL

Zoya Retiwalla | TRP | November 20, 2019


The AGE-WELL Network strives to create real-world solutions that will make a meaningful impact on the lives of Canadian seniors and caregivers.  

Lunch ‘N Learn with AGE-WELLRight to left – Our faculty member Rich Foty introduces the AGE-WELL group, Dr. Samantha Sandassie (Education and Training Manager), Benett Axtell (AGE-WELL HQP, Ph.D. student – Computer Science UofT), and Chao Bian (AGE-WELL HQP, Ph.D. student – IBBME UofT).
Our second Lunch ‘N Learn session of this year welcomed an innovative group from AGE-WELL NCE. This interactive session had discussions ranging from research to knowledge mobilization and commercialization within the context of building Canada’s AgingTech sector. Funded by the Networks of Centres of Excellence program in 2015, AGE-WELL has funded over 120 research projects, supported over 700 students and postdoctoral fellows, as well as 35 start-up companies. In early 2018, AGE-WELL embarked upon a comprehensive review of the research and policy priorities relating to seniors across Canada. The team spoke about how these priorities were validated with research, government, non-profit and industry stakeholders, including older adults and caregivers. This review has resulted in the development of eight Challenge Areas upon which all future AGE-WELL research, development, and funding programs will be built. 
In order to uphold their vision – Canada’s leadership in technology and aging benefits the world’, AGE-WELL provides a platform to over 5000 engaged older adults and caregivers to have their voices heard. “Co-creation with older adults and caregivers fosters meaningful innovation,” Dr. Sandassie explained regarding the effective AGE-WELL framework. In addition to the development of new products, AGE-WELL’s innovation landscape includes both service delivery models and policy change in order to capture the range of solutions necessary to make an impact in the quality of life.  
“The risk of social isolation is higher in older adults,” Axtell mentioned while discussing her project. With her interest in digital storytelling, she was perfectly suited to take the lead in developing a novel technology called PhotoFlow. It’s a digital application that combines picture organization and oral reminiscence, providing a digital version of spreading out photos from old photo albums at the dinner table. “The hope is that PhotoFlow will decrease the social isolation experienced by some older adults.” 
Using machine learning algorithms and a human-centered approach to improve healthcare in the aging population, Chao Bian is revolutionizing functional assessment with artificial intelligence. He is the co-founder of nightingale.ai, which uses a phone camera and robust machine learning models specifically designed for assessing standardized functional assessment to aid in post-surgery rehabilitation. Their algorithm creates a personalized patient health journey through the progressive collection of aggregated data in order to provide an insightful and holistic patient assessment. 
AGE-WELL’s success depends on the active engagement and participation of the people who will actually use the technologies and services developed through their research. Seniors and caregivers, as well as trainees, researchers, and industry members who are interested in contributing to AGE-WELL activities are invited to learn more about joining the AGE-WELL community by emailing info@agewell-nce.ca.