Friday, December 30, 2016

Centre to develop technology crafted specifically for the elderly | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis

Centre to develop technology crafted specifically for the elderly

NEETU CHANDRA SHARMA | Thu, 29 Dec 2016-07:20am , New Delhi , DNA

With an increasing elderly population in India, Centre is looking at home-based care and development of innovative and assistive technology and services that are affordable and appropriate in terms of culture, gender, and age of the elderly.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in association with Forte, the Swedish Research Council for Health Working Life and Welfare, would soon start collaborative research projects in the field of ageing and health, focusing on developing affordable and appropriate innovative assistive technology for the disabled elderly and methods of home-based care interventions for them.

"India has to put greater stress on the healthcare system to cater to the needs of its elderly population. There is a need to understand and strengthen the mechanisms of provision of care for the elderly and address them through appropriate delivery mechanisms. For this we need to turn to global models of home based services and remote healthcare delivery through mHealth or telemedicine to understand the nuances of designing and implementing public and private models of elderly care," said Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Director General, ICMR, and Secretary, Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

(mHealth is a general term for the use of mobile phones and other wireless technology in medical care)

"This will provide an insight into critical success factors as well as challenges in managing elderly care. Through cross national studies, lessons can be learnt on the need for collaboration amongst various stakeholders that can change India's elderly care landscape, and bring it to a level that is comparable with global standards," she said.

The ICMR has invited for proposals that could include how the design of housing, living arrangements, effective supportive technologies for functional abilities, and the availability of local communities affect elderly people's participation, activities and independence.

The idea is to find how interventions could prevent or reduce the severity of functional impairment, especially impairments secondary to cognitive decline. The research would include interventions aimed at the prevention of functional impairment as well as health promotion in order to reduce the incidence of the same in the elderly. The research outcomes will craft systems of integrated care designed to address the set of health, social and functional needs of the frail elderly.

"We are working on projects on development of visual assistance, mobility assistance, and cognitive assistance of the elderly. Also, design and provision of technology applicable to working with older adults and identify barriers and strategies on older adults' acceptance of technology and perceptions of learning how to use new tools," said Dr Swaminathan.

With declining fertility and rising life expectancy, there is a rapid increase in the number of elderly persons worldwide. Currently persons aged 60 years or over comprise over 11.5 per cent of the world's population. This number is expected to surpass the 2 billion mark in 2050, from 841 million in coming years. India stands to witness 100 million persons aged 60 and above currently as per the latest report from Helpage India. The need for elderly care in India is similar to the global scenario with some factors pertinent to India like a changing family system, a rural urban divide, gender-based beliefs, and a lack of facilities that needs to be addressed.

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