Independent living in an ageing society through innovative ICT solutions

Independent living in an ageing society through innovative ICT solutions

Europe is facing a major societal challenge in the fact of a rapidly increasing ageing population. A key challenge is to find real solutions to ensure that our older citizens are able to live healthy, fulfilling and independent lives whilst keeping health and care systems sustainable. Exciting and groundbreaking EU research and innovation efforts look set to deliver these solutions.
Independent living in an ageing society through innovative ICT solutions

With each passing year, Europeans are living longer. Although this is to be applauded, there will be increasing demands for health, social and informal care services over the coming decades. This will have real effects on how we live, work and shape our external and domestic environments – home, communities, cities and towns. Questions over who is (or who should be) responsible for health and social care will be at the top of political agendas and concrete answers must be provided. At the same time, the changing age structure of our society can also open up new opportunities for innovation in the digital economy and society.
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Researcher testing drugs to treat Lewy body dementia

An Ohio State University researcher is enrolling patients in the first U.S. clinical trials of two drugs being tested in the treatment of Lewy body dementia, one of the most common but least talked about neurodegenerative diseases.

Source: Ohio State researcher testing drugs to treat Lewy body dementia


One trial is testing the safety and effectiveness of RVT-101, a once-a-day pill that researchers think can restore cognitive function, or thinking skills, in people with Lewy body dementia. About 240 people will be enrolled in the United States, Spain and France for this six-month study.

People with the disease, between the ages of 50 and 85, who are interested in learning more about the trials can call the Wexner Medical Center at 614-293-4376.

Digital Health Care Design: Coursework for Innovative Solutions for Aging Populations

I am participating in an massive online open course (MOOC) from the University of Copenhagen and Copenhagen Business School on the topic of Innovating Solutions for Aging Populations.

The free course is offered through Coursera; it started June 6th and runs until July 17th. You can read more about the course and sign up for future offerings at:

Week 5:  Digital Health Care Design

In this final module you will be introduced to digital design methods and how to explore the solution and the problem during the innovation process. You will learn how to frame the design problem through field studies and collaboration, and how to apply prototypes in your work.

This week’s lectures focused on digital design and how it plays a role in the innovation process. How to identify a (design) problem, how to explore the problem through studying and collaborating with others (including stakeholders), and analyze and reframe design problems into a useful product or service.

If we look at the My Day case example from Steno Diabetes Center, the overall purpose is to develop an e-health solution that supports people with diabetes in maintaining a diet that is healthy for their condition by mobilizing Steno’s specialist knowledge within the field. At first, the problem may appear as very clear. People with diabetes need help with managing their diet. But once you start looking into it, the roots of the problem are more complex. Why is it that many people with diabetes struggle with their diet? Is it because they don’t know what is healthy for them? Is it because they get tempted? Or forget about healthy diets when they eat? Or there is something completely different at stake. 

Participatory design (involving stakeholders in the design process), ethnographic studies (how will the innovation be perceived, used, and beneficial to populations), and re-framing the design problem are useful tools for innovating health care technology design.

There are also different design techniques which can be used to develop and test the eHealth prototype. First, a paper mock-up is used to outline and describe the eHealth innovation. Second, a fully functional software prototype is developed where the interface (how the user interacts with the technology) is made to look and feel like the final product. These allow for sketching out the initial design and consulting with others, usually leading to some changes in the design and improving the initial idea. The functional prototype allows for demonstrations and testing – where users can interact with the product/service and provide feedback on various aspects (usability, look and feel, functionality, etc.). These two types of prototyping are tools used to create the design and to test the design.


Q1. Different types of prototypes can be distinguished by their resolution (the level of detail by which they represent the final design) and their technical fidelity (how closely the prototype technically resembles the final product). In relation to this framework, what is a mock-up prototype and what is the purpose?

 A1. A simple (low resolution and low fidelity) prototype made out of e.g. paper and cardboard to visualize a concept and facilitate discussion between users and designers

Q2. Different types of prototypes are typically used at different stages in a digital project to serve different purposes. When and why is a high resolution and high fidelity prototype typically used?

A2. Towards the end of the project to evaluate the outcome of the design process, e.g. through a field study or a usability test

Q3. What is a wireframe prototype?

A3. A visual model, for instance developed using an IT tool, mainly used to communicate, but also to run initial tests of a design

Q4. Why is problematization important in a digital design process?

A4. To ensure that the project solves a relevant problem and to ensure sustained interest among the stakeholders of the project

Q5. When does problematization ideally take place in digital design?

A5. Mainly in the early phases but in principle throughout the project, to ensure that new insights into the problem produced by the project will be taken into account

Q6. Which method is particularly useful in a problematization process?

A6. Ethnographic studies of the actual problem settings to observe how the problems unfold in practice, and workshops, where the problems are discussed thoroughly with stakeholders of the project

Rehabilitation: Coursework for Innovative Solutions for Aging Populations

I am participating in an massive online open course (MOOC) from the University of Copenhagen and Copenhagen Business School on the topic of Innovating Solutions for Aging Populations.

The free course is offered through Coursera; it started June 6th and runs until July 17th. You can read more about the course and sign up for future offerings at:

Week 3:  Rehabilitation Continue reading

Blood donation text message service in Sweden

Blood connects us all – blood donation text message service in Sweden

Only a quarter of blood donations in high-income countries come from young people (up to age 24). An initiative in Sweden lets blood donors know via text message when their blood has been given to a patient. This is one example of using technology to recruit new donors and to keep them donating. On 14 June, World Blood Donor Day, we thank blood donors for their life-saving gift, and underline the need for regular blood donation.

Source: Blood connects us all – blood donation text message service in Sweden


Arvid Öhlin was relaxing at home in Stockholm when he heard the familiar bleep of a text message, or SMS, arriving on his mobile phone. It was an ordinary event, but this was no ordinary text. It was a thank you, notifying him that the blood he recently donated had been given to a patient.

The text message initiative, launched last year by the Stockholm blood donation service Blodcentralen, uses technology to recruit and retain new donors. Donors receive an automated text telling them when their blood has made it into a fellow human being’s veins.

Arvid, aged 40, is now a veteran blood donor. He has given blood 26 times since he was 19 years old. He is so comfortable giving blood that he now takes his little son, Assar, along to the blood bank.

“I was at home the first time I got the thank-you SMS. It felt good and made me happy. It is really nice to get a confirmation that your blood is used,” he explains. When asked what he would say to others about giving blood, he says simply, “I think it is a natural thing to do – if you are able to, you should.”

High-income countries need to recruit more young people to give blood. The Stockholm service hopes their text messaging initiative will help them remedy shortages. According to Communications Manager Karolina Blom Wiberg, “We are convinced the SMS builds loyalty and the donors (including me) love getting them. They hit you right in the gut when you think that someone has in this instant been helped by my blood.”

Blood donation – key facts

  •  Of the 108 million blood donations collected globally, approximately half are collected in high-income countries, home to 18% of the world’s population. This is an increase of almost 25% from 80 million donations collected in 2004.
  • The blood donation rate is 36.8 donations per 1000 population in high-income countries, 11.7 in middle-income countries, and 3.9 in low-income countries.
  • 75 countries report collecting fewer than 10 donations per 1000 population. Of these countries, 40 are in the WHO African Region, 8 in the Region of the Americas, 7 in the Eastern Mediterranean Region, 6 in the European Region, 6 in the South-East Asia Region, and 8 in the Western Pacific Region. All are low- or middle-income countries.
  • The age profile of blood donors shows that proportionally more young people donate blood in low- and middle-income countries than in high-income countries (see Figure 1). Blood donor demographics are important for formulating and monitoring recruitment strategies.

Growing use of mHealth across European Region

According to the latest report on eHealth in the European Region, text messaging is widely used in mHealth (mobile health, including apps, wearable technologies and medical devices). Texts are used for sending appointment reminders and in health promotion, awareness raising and community mobilization campaigns. Yet, only 3 countries surveyed had government-sponsored mHealth programmes and few had conducted in-depth evaluations.

Claudia Stein, Director of the Division of Information, Evidence, Research and Innovation at WHO/Europe, explains that “recruiting and retaining young blood donors who will continue to donate for decades is essential to ensure a self-sufficient blood supply. This is a tremendously powerful use of text messaging as an eHealth tool to mobilize a community for the greater good, and could be adapted easily to other contexts and countries.”

World Blood Donor Day 2016

World Blood Donor Day is celebrated on 14 June. This year’s campaign, “Blood connects us all”, is an opportunity to thank blood donors for their life-saving gift of blood. It also aims to create wider public awareness of the need for regular blood donation, and to inspire those who have not yet donated blood to start. Regular, voluntary, unpaid blood donations are the foundation of a safe, sustainable blood supply.

Tech dramatically improves medication adherence

Connected technology solutions dramatically improve medication adherence, according to new study from Philips

Over the span of one year, user data from more than 1,300 patients in the Netherlands was analyzed, showing 96% of patients using Philips Medido, a connected medication dispensing solution, were adherent to their medication schedule. Data from the study also showed that patients using Medido stayed adherent to long-term therapy over time, showing little or no change in adherence over the course of the year.

Read the full article here:

eHealth Week 2016!

I arrived in Amsterdam this morning for eHealth Week 2016!! Super excited to be here with others interested in eHealth and to enjoy amazing Amsterdam!



I gave a short presentation today at the US Consulate General on some of the opportunities in eHealth development which we found in the European eHealth report From Innovation to Implementation – eHealth in the WHO European Region. It was a fun crowd of about 20 and rather informal. Not my best presentation, unfortunately, but not too bad, either. It’s sometimes hard to summarize statistics in a way that reveals opportunities and also keeping the presentation fun and easy to grasp. I think I partially accomplished this today 🙂

The rest of the week, I will be joining all kinds of interesting sessions – primarily focused on my work in eHealth & Innovation, but there are a few focused on aging and one or two on dementia which I will be able to attend. I am pretty lucky to have a supervisor who encourages my other interests in eHealth!

I will be posting more on the sessions and hopefully a few fun pictures during the week!



Exercise and wearable fitness tech for older adults

Chronological age has no impact on health and well-being – per this study.  Apparently, blood pressure and cholesterol readings aren’t the whole story.  What matters more are sensory function, mental health, mobility and health behaviors. This is according to a summary of an abstract of research at the University of Chicago.  But it re-enforces other research about the correlation between exercise and warding off dementia.  And for those who never got around to exercise but have a fear of falling in their 80s and beyond, exercise like Tai Chi can restore balance in an 85-year-old, building confidence and reduce fall risk and fear of falling.

Exercise motivation – what gets older adults moving?  As the Tai Chi photograph shows, group exercise provides feedback and makes it fun for the participants.  SilverSneakers, an exercise program that originated in Arizona in 1992, morphed through multiple company shapes and sizes, and now is part of Healthways, which makes it available via Medicare insurance programs and fitness centers.  Okay, that was convoluted – but the net result is that Medicare Advantage plans like Humana and United Healthcare offer free gym memberships through their SilverSneakers partnerships – enabling and encouraging seniors to come to the gym, participate in social group classes, typically doing some exercise, including water aerobics classes in the pool at their level of comfort and widely variable level of fitness.

Exercise tech – what keeps older adults moving? Read more at:  Chronological age, exercise and wearable fitness tech for older adults

How Climate Change Affects the Health of Older Adults

Climate change and its consequences are an impending reality, ones that have both socio-emotional and physical effects on older adults. Our lives, livelihoods and health are intrinsically tied to that of the planet, so it is crucial to look at how we can improve resilience to climate change, especially in vulnerable populations like the elderly. Not all older people are the same as they react differently to the effects of climate change. However, there are a few trends that have been sighted to have a disproportional effect on older adults.

Read the full article on Global Health Aging

Good and Bad Foods for Your Brain

22 Best & Worst Foods for Your Brain

From tea to tuna, take a look at 22 of the best and worst foods to feed your brain.

Flip through the slideshow and read the full article on MSN.com

Differentiating dementia, delirium and depression

Nursing Times Learning has launched a new unit on how to tell the difference between dementia, delirium and depression in older people, to ensure they receive the right care.

Dementia, delirium and depression are all serious conditions that are particularly common in older people. Their similar symptoms mean the conditions can go undetected and untreated. However, although they may present in similar ways, there are differences in the treatment and support approaches used for each. It is vital that health and care professionals can identify key risks, signs and symptoms associated with all three conditions so that appropriate support, treatment and management can be given.

Read the full article with symptoms, causes, treatments and a quiz to test how well you can differentiate at:




Rising from the rubble: Nepal earthquake one year on

You may recall my previous posts on Aging and Emergencies or Disasters or on Combating Ageism in Disaster Relief, which specifically talked about the 2015 earthquake in Nepal. This article form HelpAge International provides an update on the aid and continued situation for older adults one year after the earthquake.

Continue reading

Retirement Planning – 30 Questions You Should Ask To Plan For Your Future

Retirement Planning – 30 Questions You Should Ask To Plan For Your Future

Retirement planning doesn’t stop the day you retire. It continues as your life unfolds. As such, it’s important for you to talk with your adult children or other family members about what you want for your life now, and in the future.

It’s important for you, since it’s your life that you’re planning for. Continue reading

Shaping Ageing Cities

Shaping Ageing Cities

‘Shaping ageing cities’ is a comparative overview of the performance of 10 European cities, according to ageing data and observing them under the lenses of society, mobility, built and digital environment as the basis to further investigate the correlation among politics, planning and ageing.

ReThink Respite

Dispelling respite myths for people with dementia and their carers

ReThink Respite is a new online resource aiming to support people with dementia and their carers and help them to better understand the benefits of respite services.

“There is plenty of evidence to show that respite can sustain carers to continue in their caring role and keep the person with dementia at home for longer, and yet the proportion of carers that use available respite and other support programs is low,” according to project leader, Dr Lyn Phillipson.

“The ReThink Respite resource will help people better understand respite services by dispelling myths and educating carers of the benefits of respite services. Ultimately, we want to increase uptake and inform and shape service delivery of respite in the community,” she adds.

Read more at:

Visit the ReThink Respite webpage at