Penn State Harrisburg to host smart-home symposium on the future of aging

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MIDDLETOWN, Pa. – Penn State Harrisburg’s Smart Home Research Initiative will host a virtual symposium titled, “The Future of Aging: Smart Home Technology, Healthcare, Research, and Practice” from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Friday, April 8. 

For more information and to register, visit the symposium registration page. A detailed program is available on the registration page. Those who register will receive additional details and a Zoom link to the event the day prior.

The symposium will bring together public and private entities that share interests in advancing innovations that improve the quality of life for older adults and individuals with disabilities. The program includes several guest speakers, research presentations and a panel discussion. Breakout rooms will give participants an active role in discussing symposium topics.

Pennsylvania’s aging population is growing rapidly, and alternatives to support options for people to stay in their homes longer will reduce the pressure on facilities that cater to older and disabled adults. Research in the topic of “aging in place” positions Penn State to advance innovations and apply smart-technology research to help older adults and individuals with disabilities maintain or improve their heath and quality of life, as well as make homes and buildings more accessible and sustainable.

Smart-home research promises to allow more older and disabled adults to stay in their homes by creating electronic sensors and interactive devices that help caregivers, family members and the homeowners better monitor the health and status of these adults remotely. It also investigates expanded options for home health care, energy sustainability, and resident quality of life through optimizing technological solutions.

George Demiris, the Mary Alice Bennet University professor and a PIK (Penn Integrates Knowledge) University professor, at the University of Pennsylvania will present the keynote address titled, “Smart Homes: Challenges and Opportunities for Patient and Family Engagement.”

Demiris holds joint faculty appointments in the department of Biobehavioral Health Sciences of the School of Nursing and the informatics division of the Department of Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Informatics in the Perelman School of Medicine. He explores innovative ways to utilize technology and support older adults and their families in various settings, including home and hospice care. He also focuses on designing and evaluating personal health systems that produce patient-generated data including “smart home” solutions for aging.

He is a member of the National Academy of Medicine, a fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics, the Gerontological Society of America and the International Academy of Health Sciences Informatics. He is the editor-In-chief of Informatics for Health and Social Care and a Senior Fellow of the Leonard Davis Institute for Health Economics. He directs the Penn Artificial Intelligence and Technology Collaboratory for Healthy Aging.

Smart Home Technology and Health Systems Research presentations, moderated by Jane Beckett-Camarata, teaching professor of public policy and administration, include:

  • “An Approach to Assess Age-Related Changes in Upper Extremity Function and Their Effect on Maintenance of Independent Living,” presented by Tyler Richardson, assistant professor of kinesiology in the college’s School of Behavioral Sciences and Education
  • “Synthesis and Characterization of Antimicrobial Feedstocks for 3D Printing Technologies,” presented by Ola Rashwan, assistant professor of mechanical engineering in the college’s School of Science, Engineering, and Technology
  • “Needs Assessment: Accommodating Huntington’s Disease,” presented by Richard Ciocci, associate professor of mechanical engineering in the college’s School of Science, Engineering, and Technology

The Smart Home Technology and Health Systems panel, moderated by Dr. Steve Handler, associate chief of staff for Geriatrics and Extended Care and director of the Geriatrics Research Education and Clinical Center at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, includes:

  • “Telehealth and Technology in Nursing Homes: Perspectives from the Front Lines,” Dr. Rollin Wright, Geriatric Medicine, Penn State Health
  • “Smart Home Technology for Seniors,” Ted Tice, technology coordinator, Masonic Village
  • “Using Technology to Promote Autonomy and Foster Socialization in Long-Term Care,” Margaret Barajas, Pennsylvania’s Statewide Long-Term Care ombudsman