by Nadine Sturm, Doris M. Bleier and Gerhard Chroust (Johanniter Österreich Ausbildung und Forschung gemeinnützige GmbH)
Aging of the population is a major concern in the European Union. “AHA – Active and Healthy Aging” is a multi-facetted and systemic approach in order to compensate for the diminishing capabilities of seniors. The project my-AHA is based on reducing frailty through targeted, personalised ICT-based interventions.
Smartphone for interventions.
With the demographic changes that are occurring, particularly within the European Union, we need to consider how best to support the ageing population. The broad concept of active and healthy ageing (AHA) was proposed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as an answer. Most seniors will by necessity become actively and/or passively involved in activities related to AHA. The goal of AHA can be roughly described as trying to compensate for the diminished capabilities of seniors related to age. It is a highly interdisciplinary challenge which involves the following areas:
- Physiological/medical (maintaining physical health);
- Psychological (preserving mental health and a positive attitude to the world and seniors, avoiding the trauma of aging);
- Sociological (maintaining a good relationship between the individual and his/her immediate support environment, e.g., formal and informal caregivers, healthcare services and infrastructure);
- Technological (providing technological support on the physical and mental level, especially by ICT, sensors, activators, etc.);
- Organisational (providing logistic support and infrastructure on various levels, including architectural considerations);
- Economic (defraying cost of treatment, supplying equipment, etc.).
The main goal of the European Project “my-AHA” (My Active and Healthy Aging, European Union – Horizon-2020 Project No 689592, 2016-2019 [L1] is to reduce the risk of frailty by improving physical activity and cognitive function, psychological state, social resources, nutrition and sleep, thereby contributing to overall well-being. An ICT-based platform, including a smartphone system, will detect defined personalised risks for frailty, be they physiological, psychological or social, early and accurately via non-stigmatising embedded sensors and data readily available in the daily living environment of older adults.
When a risk is detected, my-AHA will provide personalised targeted ICT-based interventions with scientific evidence based efficacy, including vetted offerings from established providers of medical and AHA support. These interventions will follow an integrated approach to motivate users to participate in exercises, cognitively stimulating games and social networking to achieve long-term behavioural change, sustained by continued end user engagement with my-AHA.
This approach will also increase a senior’s competence with respect to his/her own frailties. It encourages long-term changes to a senior’s behaviour and as a result leads to a longer, more active, more healthy and thus more enjoyable life.
The project is coordinated by the University degli Studi di Torino, Italy, and has 14 other partners from: Austria (one), Australia (one), Germany (four), Italy (one), Japan (two), Netherlands (one), Portugal (one), South Korea (one), Spain (one), and United Kingdom (one).
The Johanniter Austria Research and Education (Johanniter Österreich Ausbildung und Forschung gemeinnützige GmbH) [L2] provide considerable expertise in methodologies of empirical social science, especially with respect to user involvement, honouring ethical considerations and applying technological foresight. This input will be invaluable when it comes to developing targeted interventions and tests and when introducing new technologies and identifying the most effective methods to prevent frailty. Additionally, the Johanniter are setting up a Europe-wide testing environment with standardised parameters to support the project.
Johanniter Österreich – Ausbildung und Forschung gemeinnützige GmbH, Austria
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