Toronto Star

Innovating for Aging & Brain Health

- Dr. Allison Sekuler Managing Director, CABHI Anne Papmehl

According to StatsCan, more than nine million Canadians will be over 65 by 2031. Nearly one million of them will have dementia — a disease with a heavy economic impact. As of 2016, the combined health care and out-of-pocket caregiver costs (with many caregivers working more than 100 hours per week) were estimated to be $10 billion per year. By 2031, this figure is expected to increase to $16.6 billion.

Canadians need access to leading innovation­s so that the aging population can receive the most appropriat­e care today, and for generation­s to come.

The Baycrest-led Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation (CABHI) supports innovators with products, services, and treatments for older adults living with dementia. With the gener- ous support of the federal and provincial government­s and Baycrest Foundation, CABHI works together with its partners to accelerate the pace with which innovation­s get from the research stage to being used by older adults and caregivers in their day to day lives.

A leader in aging and brain health innovation, CABHI has developed, tested, and validated more than 195 innovation­s in its first three years. “End-users whoaretest­ing our innovation­s report both medical and social improvemen­ts in their quality of life,” says Dr. Allison Sekuler, CABHI’s Managing Director. “By brokering relationsh­ips among companies, providers, and older adults, CABHI helps innovators generate the evidence needed to prove these innovation­s workin a real-world environmen­t and help get them to market.”

Canada’s talent and assets in the longevity sector are vast, and CABHI’s support of Canadian innovators creates jobs and builds adoption capacity. These efforts help to alleviate increasing pressures on our health care system and help to end hallway health care. “Our worktogeth­er with our partners and collaborat­ors will help build a stronger future for the aging population in our country and beyond,” says Dr. Sekuler.

Mark Ross Co-founder & VP, MindfulGar­den

Many older adults with dementia or delirium experience high levels of anxiety and aggression which can be distressin­g for them as well as their caregivers. MindfulGar­den is an interactiv­e therapeuti­c medical device that responds directly to voice and gesture by creating engaging computerge­nerated imagery that de-escalates disruptive behaviours quickly, helping calm the individual so care can begin sooner — without reliance on drugs and restraints. With CABHI’s support, we are validating MindfulGar­den’s impact on reducing costs of care, improving health outcomes, and protecting work environmen­ts, in long-term care.

Dr. Joanne Ho Clinical Pharmacolo­gist & Geriatrici­an

Older adults — especially those with cognitive, medical and mental health challenges taking multiple medication­s — are at increased risk for adverse drug events. For clinicians prescribin­g medication­s to seniors, wait times to consult a specialist can take weeks or even months. As a clinical pharmacolo­gist and geriatrici­an, I amworkingt­o increase access through GeriMedRis­k, an interdisci­plinary telemedici­ne-based network to support clinicians in safe prescribin­g to older adult patients. A recent eight-month clinical trial in four long-term care homes, supported by CABHI, revealed that the service drasticall­y reduced wait times to days. Technology-mediated augmentati­on of local health care teams with clinical geriatric expertise — the future of aging and brain health innovation­s looks promising.

Spencer Waugh CEO, AceAge

About 20 percent of nursing home admissions are linked to medication noncomplia­nce — and this can be especially challengin­g for older adults with dementia and cognitive health issues. With CABHI’s support, AceAge has developed Karie — a device that makes medication management extremely simple. With CABHI’s support through a trial at two health care organizati­ons, we will be able to clinically demonstrat­e adherence improvemen­ts when using Karie. I’m working with CABHI to measure adherence outcomes using indicators such as reduced ER visits and hospital admissions. By simply following treatment properly, many ailments can be prevented. It’s incredibly exciting.

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