When the baby boom generation reaches old age, their numbers will overwhelm existing care systems.
Fortunately there is still time to get ready: the oldest boomers won’t reach 85 for another 20 years. At UB’s School of Public Health and Health Professions, the Aging and Technology Research Center is working on a better future for frail older people.
As its name says, the center is looking for technological solutions to problems associated with aging. In one line of work, the center developed an Internet health-delivery system that produced dramatically positive results for elderly people suffering from congestive heart failure. The system is simple: it combines health information on congestive heart failure written specifically for the target population; simple exercise videos for older people with congestive heart failure—starring an older person with congestive heart failure; and a website where users post their daily health data so a nurse can check up on any reading outside normal values.
In a recent yearlong trial, this Internet intervention decreased emergency room visits, hospital admissions and mortality. It saved money and lives.
The center is experimenting with monitoring technologies for what are called “smart houses.” This technology can watch frail older persons—to make sure they’re okay at any moment, to check that they’re eating, for instance, or taking medications. When they are perfected, such technologies will make it possible for these people to stay in their homes safely longer than they can now.
The Aging and Technology Research Center is building a better future for aging, something we’ll all benefit from, sooner or later. Private support for the center—in gifts of any size—promotes that work.