In the Spring of 2001, we began our formative research, including expert interviews and focus groups with:

  • Oregon Department of Human Services In-home Care Services Administrators

  • Legacy Health System’s Powerful Tools for Caregiving Project Managers

  • Kaiser Permanente's Aging Network Director, Expanded Care Managers and Home Health Staff

Starting in 2002, we built the Pine Point Project, the first living laboratory for pre-senescent persons with disabilities serving as proxies for frail elders, at the Pine Point Apartments in Portland, Oregon to study SmartHome technologies via a novel participatory design strategy. This work was funded by four successive merit-based grants from the Intel Research Council, Proactive Health Group.

In 2004 we partnered with CleverSet, Inc. on the project: Home Sensor Data Fusion to Support Aging in Place with a SBIR Phase-I grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) / National Institute on Aging (NIA). We built and evaluated Dynamic Relational Bayesian Network models using the data sets generated in the living lab. Our subsequent NIH/NIA Phase II grant award funded research to build a prototype activity tracker that would detect and track a subset of activities of daily living, create alerts about meals and medications, detect anomalies such as falls and infer changes in the health status of an individual over time.

In April 2006, CareWheels received its IRS Final Determination Letter, classifying us as a non-profit public charity exempt from Federal income tax under §501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Following the 2008 global financial collapse, CareWheels began exploring the use of online time and care banking to strengthen community based care services by empowering elders with technologies to build a peer-based social health network. To help fill the growing gaps in our state social services, we are exploring how to leverage Interdependent care (I-care) technologies, social networks and community currencies together to co-produce, provision and remunerate home based monitoring and community based support services. By the end of 2010, CareWheels had received letters of support from our local, county and state representatives and senior services stakeholders.

In 2012 CareWheels established a Lotsa Helping Hands community website to help coordinate caregiver support. Our research continues to explore how to leverage GeronTech and TimeBanking to build peer-based social health networks for mutual care and support. Our goal is to embrace the social and financial caregiving challenges facing the growing demographic of Americans who will face increasing fiscal austerity and diminishing social services while aging at home. Going forward, we believe that one of the best ways to prepare for this "Silver Tsunami" is to harness our information, communication and health care infrastructures to build intentional communities.