Is Gerontechnology the Future of Aging in Place?

A new national research and Innovation hub, AgeWell, has just received government funding of $36.6 million over five years, according to a Jan. 19 news release. 

AGE-WELL NCE Inc. (Aging Gracefully across Environments using Technology to Support Wellness, Engagements and Long Life) is committed to research which will develop new technologies to help seniors live independently and safely at home. (

With this goal in mind, the University of Alberta has begun a six-month trial of The Locator Device Project.  The project is testing GPS technology to track and locate people with cognitive impairments such as Alzheimer’s.   

The technology being testing includes a watch with a two-way communicator and a shoe insole imbedded with a GPS which will show the patient’s exact location.  A loved one will receive a text when the patient goes beyond a set range.  

The goal is to allow people in the early stages of dementia the ability to stay safe and live independently longer. 

The telehealth market is also growing rapidly as the aging population and caregivers look to technology to help patients live more independently but also keep in touch with family, friends and health providers.

Panasonic recently released a tablet called On4Today, which features a tool to keep track of appointments, daily activities and talk with loved ones through a video chat function.   Many of the medical alert systems, the “Help I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” pendants have evolved with technology that includes fall detection and GPS tracking.  Smart phone apps and two way communication also allow for greater independence and safety.

Technology is also in development to create a “smart home” for seniors that would include sensors to remind residents to close the fridge or turn off the stove.  The market for this senior centered technology is expected to grow as the baby boomers continue to retire, creating a “silver economy”.