Florida State University researchers are part of a consortium that received a $14.7 million grant from the National Institute on Aging to work with emerging and existing technologies to promote well-being, quality of life and independence of the elderly and to provide support to the elderly. adults with cognitive impairment.
Originally funded in 1999, the Center for Research and Education in Aging and Technology Enhancement (CREATE) aims to ensure that older adults can use and realize the benefits of technology to enhance daily life. Led by Cornell University’s Weill Medical College, the consortium also includes Florida State, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Miami.
Psychology professors Walter Boot and Neil Charness, along with assistant professor of computer science Shayok Chakraborty, make up the FSU part of the team.
Boot and Charness, who is also director of the Institute for Successful Longevity, noted that across four previous versions of CREATE, the landscape of aging and technology has changed dramatically.
“The evolution of CREATE has been exciting as the center has kept pace with the rapid technological changes we’ve seen over the past 20 years,” Boot said. “Our research questions and technological solutions have changed with the potential of emerging technologies.”
Sara Czaja, professor of medical gerontology at Weill Cornell Medicine and principal investigator of CREATE, said researchers at the four universities understand the role technology can play in helping older adults.
“Technology is increasingly seen as a solution for the support needs of aging adults,” Czaja said, “and more technology products are being marketed to older people.”
Given that age is an important risk factor for cognitive disorders such as mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, CREATE V will expand its target populations to include older adults with MCI and will involve three integrated cross-site projects.
With a focus on improving cognitive health, social engagement and preventing cognitive impairment, the first study will examine how virtual reality technology can be used to support cognitive and social engagement in aging adults .
“CREATE researchers are excited about the potential of virtual reality technology,” Boot said, “because the technology is now sophisticated enough and inexpensive enough to support the implementation and delivery of immersive interventions. aimed at promoting social and cognitive engagement in older adults, including older adults at risk of social isolation.
The second CREATE V project will focus on supporting adults with MCI, using innovative technologies to assess subsequent cognitive decline, such as conversion to Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias. The research team will collaborate with the IBM Watson Research Center to develop a speech analysis software support tool that will engage older people in storytelling. The purpose of the tool will be to help detect changes in cognitive status.
“At CREATE’s FSU site, we have strong expertise in machine learning and artificial intelligence that will aid in the development of technology systems that will learn and adapt to the user to facilitate technology interactions, especially for older adults facing to cognitive challenges,” says Chakraborty.
The third research project will focus on developing digital assistive tools to help older adults with cognitive impairment manage healthcare tasks, such as Medicare/Medicaid enrollment.
The three large-scale research projects will be conducted at sites in New York, Florida and Illinois to collect data on a variety of characteristics of a diverse population of older adults. CREATE V will also include an expanded pilot research program to support new researchers.
“We are thrilled to have the support of the National Institute on Aging to co-develop innovative technology solutions with the help of aging people in our community,” Charness said. “Our goal is to improve well-being and social connections with well-designed technological solutions.”
To amplify the collective understanding of aging adults and technological interactions, researchers plan to widely disseminate CREATE V results, protocols, and tools to a global audience, including the research, business, and design communities.
“Our specific goals are to understand how we can harness the power of technology to maintain, support and promote the emotional, cognitive and physical health of aging adults, ultimately improving their independence, well-being and quality of life,” said Czaja of Weill Cornell Medicine. “These are complex questions, but it’s very exciting.”