GeronTechnology = Gerontology + Technology

Gerontology: "to become ripe, grow old" from the Proto-Indo-European base *ger(e)

Medical Dictionary: The scientific study of the biological, psychological, and sociological phenomena that are associated with old age and aging.

Technology: "systematic treatment of an art, craft, or technique" from the Greek tekhnologia

Science Dictionary: The use of scientific knowledge to solve practical problems, especially in industry and commerce.

Gerontechnology is defined as “the study of technology and aging for ensuring good health, full social participation, and independent living through the entire life span.” Gerontechnology is interdisciplinary in nature, combining gerontology (eg, medical, psychological, and social sciences of aging) and technology (eg, robotics, ergonomics, information and communication technologies). In this perspective, older adults are studied from the lens of living among a dynamic technological society, while technology is studied from the viewpoint of its potential to improve their daily living and to facilitate their social participation.

CareWheels Gerontechnology Research

CareWheels began exploring the use of wireless sensor networks for in-home monitoring and support in 2001, with a grant from the Intel Research Council. We learned in our first ”living lab” how to develop systems in people’s homes and engage them in person-centered, participatory design, which helped inform and inspire the subsequent ORCATECH Life Laboratory and the Intelligent Systems for Assessment of Aging Changes Study.

ORCATECH and CareWheels have deployed the same sensor technology to achieve very different, yet complementary medical and social health objectives, respectively. ORCATECH deployed in-home sensors to discover and detect pre-clinical indicators of mild cognitive impairment, and monitor important health changes due to chronic disease and aging to guide care transitions.

CareWheels research demonstrated that by empowering people with technology to practice peer-care and participate in community-based social health networks, they can help themselves live more independently. By sharing responsibility for the well-being of others, people become motivated to take better care of themselves.

Together these kinds of complementary medical and social health applications offer us new gerontechnology tools to live more interdependently and age in place more affordably, safely and gracefully. CareWheels’ methods offer boomers a resource (ourselves) that has the potential to scale-up in proportion to the growing needs of our aging society. In essence, we can become the ones we’ve been waiting for.

Gerontechnology Around the Healthcare Continuum