Technologies and Evidence for Healthy Aging and Financial Services

By Derek Yach

While a level of cognitive decline is normal with age, the ability of people to manage their finances poses challenges as our brains change with the passing years. On April 5, 2016, the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Agenda Council (GAC) on Ageing, the International Federation on Ageing (IFA), and the National Institute on Ageing (NIA) at Ryerson University hosted a high-level symposium in Toronto, Canada to explore the potential of innovative technologies to advance healthy aging with applicability to the financial services sector. Toronto – a city with an elderly population comprising approximately 15% of its two million residents – was selected as a location representing a growing cadre of expertise in healthy aging and cognitive decline.

Technology can support older adults. While advanced technologies like artificial intelligence, wearables, and mobile health applications can assist, seemingly simple innovations like grab bars, gently sloping ramps, and non-slip shoes can also enhance functionality. Dr. Geoff Fernie of the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute and Dr. Samir Sinha of Toronto’s Mount Sinai and University Health Network Hospitals indicated that for adequate implementation and scale, technologies must be incorporated into city planning, architecture, apparel, and product design.

Baycrest’s Dr. William Reichman and AGE-WELL’s Dr. Alex Mihailidis discussed disruption in healthcare. Baycrest is pioneering the creation of an innovative pipeline through the Canadian Centre for Brain Health and Innovation, while technology is being leveraged to meet seniors at home in Mt. Sinai’s Hospital at Home program. Dr. Amy D’Aprix, a social worker who consults for BMO Financial Group, further contended that interdisciplinary approaches must be used to lead the way in financial elder security. Education and awareness in relation to technology must be supported.

The Toronto symposium enabled stakeholders to contribute to a growing foundation of evidence and perspectives on the intersection of healthy aging, technology, and financial services. The input will be incorporated into a final symposium in Philadelphia in May 9-10 hosted by the WEF GAC on Ageing and the University of Pennsylvania. While simple and inclusive technologies can augment function to maintain capability and agency in later life, we must strike a balance between designing what is needed today while anticipating seniors’ future needs for tomorrow.

We are grateful to Jane Barratt, Secretary General of the International Federation on Ageing, and Stephanie Woodward, Executive Director at the National Institute on Ageing at Ryerson University, for their leadership in convening the Toronto symposium to advance the work of the WEF GAC on Ageing.

This article was originally posted by the International Federation on Ageing.

Toronto Aging Meeting

Opening remarks at “Technologies and Evidence for Healthy Ageing and Financial Services”

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