Using technology to help people age well and keep living their best lives is the focus of Federation University staff and students involved in a new national research centre.
Federation University's healthy ageing expert Professor Colette Browning and digital health and mental health expert Professor Britt Klein will join a team of chief investigators as partners in the $4.58 million Australian Research Council Training Centre for Optimal Ageing in partnership with Monash University.
Professor Browning said optimal ageing was about providing older people the best chance to age well by looking at technological and other solutions to create a supportive environment prioritising health and age care services and the opportunity to engage with society.
Most of us want to stay active, stay engaged and stay well so we are looking at how we can assist older people and partner with them to age as well as they can.Professor Colette Browning
"The Centre provides a significant opportunity to bring together a range of academic disciplines and industry partners to build research capacity and translate research into real-world solutions for older people," she said.
"Australia's ageing population is an asset and this Centre will provide solutions to assist older people to continue to contribute to society and maintain optimal health and wellbeing."
Mental health, physical health, social connectedness and workforce participation will be key in designing technologies such as artificial intelligence to help people live enriched, healthy and independent lives as they age.
"Most of us want to stay active, stay engaged and stay well so we are looking at how we can assist older people and partner with them to age as well as they can."
"This centre will really try to embrace digital technologies such as smart phones, smart devices and smart homes ... which many baby boomers have already had quite a big uptake of. We want to see how can these technologies help older people age well, whether they are retired and living in the community or still in the workforce."
Professor Browning said the recent Royal Commission in to Aged Care highlighted many negative messages about what it means to age in Australia, especially if people end up in nursing homes.
"Further down the track obviously it would be great if people didn't have to go in to nursing homes and could age well in their community," she said.
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Professor Browning said the centre was about taking a positive approach to ageing, acknowledging it could be challenging but working to develop intervention services and products to optimise the experience.
"We'll look at using sensors to identify and assist older people at risk of social isolation, digital approaches to enrich the environment for older people, digital support for people around mental health and assisting older people to remain productive in the workforce to share skills with younger workers."
Alongside the research and industry partners are local government and service providers including the City of Ballarat, mental health organisation Flourish Australia, and older Australians.
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