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Everyday Walking Among Older Adults and the Neighborhood Built Environment: A Comparison Between Two Cities in North America

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2020-12-22
Abstract: 

A walkable neighborhood becomes particularly important for older adults for whom physical activity and active transportation are critical for healthy aging-in-place. For many older adults, regular walking takes place in the neighborhood and is the primary mode of mobility. This study took place in eight neighborhoods in Metro Portland (USA) and Metro Vancouver (Canada), examining older adults' walking behavior and neighborhood built environmental features. Older adults reported walking for recreation and transport in a cross-sectional telephone survey. Information on physical activity was combined with audits of 355 street segments using the Senior Walking Environmental Audit Tool-Revised (SWEAT-R). Multi-level regression models examined the relationship between built environmental characteristics and walking for transport or recreation. Older adults [N = 434, mean age: 71.6 (SD = 8.1)] walked more for transport in high-density neighborhoods and in Metro Vancouver compared to Metro Portland (M = 12.8 vs. M = 2.2 min/day; p < 0.001). No relationship was found between population density and walking for recreation. Older adults spent more time walking for transport if pedestrian crossing were present (p = 0.037) and if parks or outdoor fitness amenities were available (p = 0.022). The immediate neighborhood built environment supports walking for transport in older adults. Comparing two similar metropolitan areas highlighted that high population density is necessary, yet not a sufficient condition for walking in the neighborhood.

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Article
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Digital Interventions for Depression and Anxiety in Older Adults: Protocol for a Systematic Review

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2020-12-23
Abstract: 

Background: There is a high prevalence of older adults experiencing depression and anxiety. In response to heightened demands for mental health interventions that are accessible and affordable, there has been a recent rise in the number of digital mental health interventions (DMHIs) that have been developed and incorporated into mental health treatments. Digital interventions are promising in their ability to provide researchers, medical practitioners, and patients with personalized tools for assessing behavior, consultation, treatment, and care that can be used remotely. Reviews and meta-analyses have shown the benefits of DMHIs for the treatment and prevention of depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses, but there is still a lack of studies that focus on the benefits and use of DMHIs in the older population.

Objective: The aim of this systematic review is to investigate the current evidence for the effect of technology-delivered interventions, such as smartphone/tablet applications, remote monitoring and tracking devices, and wearable technology, for the treatment and prevention of depression and anxiety in adults older than 50 years.

Methods: The academic databases SCOPUS, PsycINFO, AgeLine (EBSCO), and Medline (PubMed) will be searched from January 1, 2010, to the date of search commencement to provide a review of existing randomized controlled trial studies. The search will include 3 key concepts: “older adults,” “digital intervention,” and “depression/anxiety.” A set of inclusion criteria will be followed during screening by two reviewers. Data will be extracted to address aims and objectives of the review. The risk of bias for each study will be determined using appropriate tools. If possible, a random-effects meta-analysis will be performed, and the heterogeneity of effect sizes will be calculated.

Results: Preliminary searches were conducted in September 2020. The review is anticipated to be completed by April 2021.

Conclusions: The data accumulated in this systematic review will demonstrate the potential benefits of technology-delivered interventions for the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders in older adults. This review will also identify any gaps in current studies of aging and mental health interventions, thereby navigating a way to move forward and paving the path to more accessible and user-friendly digital health interventions for the diverse population of older adults.

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Article
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COVID-19 and AgeTech

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2020-11-13
Abstract: 

Purpose

This paper aims to provide an overview of the emerging AgeTech sector and highlight key areas for research and development that have emerged under COVID-19, as well as some of the challenges to real-world implementation.

 

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is a commentary on emerging issues in the AgeTech sector, with particular reference to COVID-19. Information used in this paper is drawn from the Canadian AGE-WELL network.

 

Findings

The COVID-19 pandemic has particularly impacted older adults. Technology has increasingly been seen as a solution to support older adults during this time. AgeTech refers to the use of existing and emerging advanced technologies, such as digital media, information and communication technologies (ICTs), mobile technologies, wearables and smart home systems, to help keep older adults connected and to deliver health and community services.

 

Research limitations/implications

Despite the potential of AgeTech, key challenges remain such as structural barriers to larger-scale implementation, the need to focus on quality of service rather than crisis management and addressing the digital divide.

 

Practical implications

AgeTech helps older adults to stay healthy and active, increases their safety and security, supports independent living and reduces isolation. In particular, technology can support older adults and caregivers in their own homes and communities and meet the desire of most older adults to age in place.

 

Social implications

AgeTech is helpful in assisting older adults to stay connected. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the importance of the informal social connections and supports within families, communities and voluntary organizations.

 

Originality/value

The last months have seen a huge upsurge in COVID-19-related research and development, as funding organizations, research institutions and companies pivot to meet the challenges thrown up by the pandemic. This paper looks at the potential role of technology to support older adults and caregivers. Keywords: dementia; technology; telemedicine; older adults; assisted living; social isolation; COVID-19; assistive devices; AgeTech.

Document type: 
Article
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Associations Between Physical Fitness and Brain Structure in Young Adulthood

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2020-11-17
Abstract: 

A comprehensive analysis of associations between physical fitness and brain structure in young adulthood is lacking, and further, it is unclear the degree to which associations between physical fitness and brain health can be attributed to a common genetic pathway or to environmental factors that jointly influences physical fitness and brain health. This study examined genotype-confirmed monozygotic and dizygotic twins, along with non-twin full-siblings to estimate the contribution of genetic and environmental factors to variation within, and covariation between, physical fitness and brain structure. Participants were 1,065 young adults between the ages of 22 and 36 from open-access Young Adult Human Connectome Project (YA-HCP). Physical fitness was assessed by submaximal endurance (2-min walk test), grip strength, and body mass index. Brain structure was assessed using magnetic resonance imaging on a Siemens 3T customized ‘Connectome Skyra’ at Washington University in St. Louis, using a 32-channel Siemens head coil. Acquired T1-weighted images provided measures of cortical surface area and thickness, and subcortical volume following processing by the YA-HCP structural FreeSurfer pipeline. Diffusion weighted imaging was acquired to assess white matter tract integrity, as measured by fractional anisotropy, following processing by the YA-HCP diffusion pipeline and tensor fit. Following correction for multiple testing, body mass index was negatively associated with fractional anisotropy in various white matter regions of interest (all | z| statistics > 3.9) and positively associated with cortical thickness within the right superior parietal lobe (z statistic = 4.6). Performance-based measures of fitness (i.e., endurance and grip strength) were not associated with any structural neuroimaging markers. Behavioral genetic analysis suggested that heritability of white matter integrity varied by region, but consistently explained >50% of the phenotypic variation. Heritability of right superior parietal thickness was large (∼75% variation). Heritability of body mass index was also fairly large (∼60% variation). Generally, 12 to 23 of the correlation between brain structure and body mass index could be attributed to heritability effects. Overall, this study suggests that greater body mass index is associated with lower white matter integrity, which may be due to common genetic effects that impact body composition and white matter integrity.

Document type: 
Article
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A Protocol for Co-Creating Research Project Lay Summaries with Stakeholders: Guideline Development for Canada’s AGE-WELL Network

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2020-05-08
Abstract: 

Background

Funding bodies increasingly require researchers to write lay summaries to communicate projects’ real-world relevance to the public in an accessible way. However, research proposals and findings are generally not easily readable or understandable by non-specialist readers. Many researchers find writing lay summaries difficult because they typically write for fellow subject specialists or academics rather than the general public or a non-specialist audience. The primary objective of our project is to develop guidelines for researchers in Canada’s AGE-WELL Network of Centres of Excellence, and ultimately various other disciplines, sectors, and institutions, to co-create lay summaries of research projects with stakeholders. To begin, we produced a protocol for co-creating a lay summary based on workshops we organized and facilitated for an AGE-WELL researcher. This paper presents the lay summary co-creation protocol that AGE-WELL researchers will be invited to use.

Methods

Eligible participants in this project will be 24 AgeTech project researchers who are funded by the AGE-WELL network in its Core Research Program 2020. If they agree to participate in this project, we will invite them to use our protocol to co-produce a lay summary of their respective projects with stakeholders. The protocol comprises six steps: Investigate principles of writing a good lay summary, identify the target readership, identify stakeholders to collaborate with, recruit the identified stakeholders to work on a lay summary, prepare for workshop sessions, and execute the sessions. To help participants through the process, we will provide them with a guide to developing an accessible, readable research lay summary, help them make decisions, and host, and facilitate if needed, their lay summary co-creation workshops.

Discussion

Public-facing research outputs, including lay summaries, are increasingly important knowledge translation strategies to promote the impact of research on real-world issues. To produce lay summaries that include information that will interest a non-specialist readership and that are written in accessible language, stakeholder engagement is key. Furthermore, both researchers and stakeholders benefit by participating in the co-creation process. We hope the protocol helps researchers collaborate with stakeholders effectively to co-produce lay summaries that meet the needs of both the public and project funders.

Document type: 
Article
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Creating Dementia-Friendly and Inclusive Communities for Social Inclusion: A Scoping Review Protocol

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2020-06-17
Abstract: 

Introduction The number of people with dementia is increasing worldwide, with the majority of people with dementia living at home in the community. WHO calls for global action on the public health response to dementia. Social exclusion is commonly reported by people with dementia and their families. Dementia-friendly and inclusive community has emerged as an idea that holds potential to contribute to the mitigation of social exclusion. The objective of the scoping review is to answer two questions: What social inclusion strategies that have been reported in the dementia-friendly and inclusive communities’ literature? What strategies for developing dementia-friendly and inclusive communities that have shown to improve social inclusion?

Methods and analysis This scoping review will follow the Joanna Briggs Institute scoping review methodology and will take place between April and September 2020. The proposed review will consider studies based in community settings with participants living at home with early to late stages of dementia and their families. This includes a three-step search strategy: (1) to identify keywords from MEDLINE and CINAHL; (2) to conduct a second search using all identified keywords and index terms across selected databases (MEDLINE, CINAHL, AgeLine, PsycINFO, Web of Science, ProQuest and Google) and (3) to handsearch the reference lists of all included articles and reports for additional studies. Further, we will search Google for grey literature on published organisational reports. Two researchers will screen titles and abstracts independently and then assess the full text of selected citations against inclusion criteria. Extracted data will be presented in a narrative accompanied by tables that reflect the objective of the review.

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Article
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Development and Validation of a Multi-domain Multimorbidity Resilience Index for an Older Population: Results from the Baseline Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-07-27
Abstract: 

Background  Multimorbidity is recognized as a major public health issue that increases with age and affects approximately two-thirds of older people in Canada, the US, Australia and many European countries. This study develops and tests a three domain (functional, social and psychological) multimorbidity resilience composite index based on a previously developed lifecourse model of multimorbidity resilience, incorporating measures of adversity and positive adaptation. The criterion validity of the measure is demonstrated by means of an analysis of key outcome variables drawn from the literature.

Methods  We used the baseline data from the Comprehensive Cohort of the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging. Associations of functional, social, psychological as well as total resilience with two health utilization and three illness context outcome variables were examined using logistic regression analyses, adjusted for age, gender, marital status, income, education, region, and number of chronic conditions.

Results  The sample included all 6771 Canadian adults aged 65 or older (mean age 73.0, 57% women) who reported two or more of 27 possible chronic conditions. Total resilience was associated with: perceived health (OR = 1.68, CI 1.59–1.77); sleep quality (OR = 1.34, CI 1.30–1.38); perceived pain (OR = 0.80, CI 0.77–0.83); hospital overnight stays (OR = 0.87, CI 0.83–0.91); and emergency department visits (OR = 0.90, CI 0.87–0.94)., after adjusting for socio-demographic factors, and number of chronic conditions. These associations were similar for the unadjusted models, as well as for the functional, social and psychological resilience sub-indices.

Conclusions  Combining components of adversity and positive adaptation within functional, social and psychological domains produces a measure of multimorbidity resilience that is associated with more positive health outcomes. Several implications of a composite multimorbidity resilience measure for clinical practice are identified. This measure can be replicated using measures found in other secondary health data sets. Future validation using longitudinal data is warranted.

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Article
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Use Of Touch Screen Tablets to Support Social Connections and Reduce Responsive Behaviours among People with Dementia in Care Settings: A Scoping Review Protocol

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-11-19
Abstract: 

Introduction The disabilities associated with dementia make the adjustment to staying in a care setting stressful. Separation from family can exacerbate the effects of stress. The use of touch screen tablets such as an iPad may offer potential to support the person with dementia staying in a care setting. Although electronic devices are used among people with dementia for a variety of purposes, a comprehensive review of studies focusing on their impact in care settings for social connection and patient/resident behaviour is lacking. This scoping review will focus on the use of touch screen tablets to support social connections and reducing responsive behaviours of people with dementia while in a care setting, such as a hospital ward.

Methods and analysis This scoping review will follow Joanna Briggs Institute scoping review methodology. The review team consists of two patient partners and three family partners, a nurse researcher, a research assistant and an academic professor. All authors including patient and family partners were involved in preparing this scoping review protocol. In the scoping review, we will search the following databases: MEDLINE, AgeLine, Cochrane, CINAHL, PsycINFO and IEEE. Google and Google Scholar will be used to search for additional literature. A hand search will be conducted using the reference lists of included studies to identify additional relevant articles. Included studies must report on the impact of using a touch screen technology intervention that involves older adults with dementia in care settings, published in English since 2009.

Ethics and dissemination This review study does not require ethics approval. By examining the current state of using touch screen tablets to support older people with dementia in care settings, this scoping review can offer useful insight into users’ needs (eg, patients’ and care providers’ needs) and inform future research and practice. We will share the scoping review results through conference presentations and an open access publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

Document type: 
Article
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The Benefits of and Barriers to Using Social Robot PARO in Care Settings: A Scoping Review

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-08-23
Abstract: 

Background

Given the complexity of providing dementia care in hospitals, integrating technology into practice is a high challenge and an important opportunity. Although there are a growing demand and interest in using social robots in a variety of care settings to support dementia care, little is known about the impacts of the robotics and their application in care settings, i.e., what worked, in which situations, and how.

 

Methods

Scientific databases and Google Scholar were searched to identify publications published since 2000. The inclusion criteria consisted of older people with dementia, care setting, and social robot PARO.

 

Results

A total of 29 papers were included in the review. Content analysis identified 3 key benefits of and 3 barriers to the use of PARO. Main benefits include: reducing negative emotion and behavioral symptoms, improving social engagement, and promoting positive mood and quality of care experience. Key barriers are: cost and workload, infection concerns, and stigma and ethical issues. This review reveals 3 research gaps: (a) the users’ needs and experiences remain unexplored, (b) few studies investigate the process of how to use the robot effectively to meet clinical needs, and (c) theory should be used to guide implementation.

 

Conclusions

Most interventions conducted have been primarily researcher-focused. Future research should pay more attention to the clinical needs of the patient population and develop strategies to overcome barriers to the adoption of PARO in order to maximize patient benefits.

Document type: 
Article
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Measurement Instruments for Quantifying Physical Resilience in Aging: A Scoping Review Protocol

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-01-14
Abstract: 

Background:  Physical resilience is the ability to optimize or recover motor function in the face of disease, injury, or aging-related decline. Greater knowledge of how some individuals regain or maintain function despite pathology may help identify protective factors and approaches that promote healthy aging. To date, a scoping review on physical resilience has not been conducted. The aims are to (1) identify measurement instruments for physical resilience, (2) synthesize and map the key concepts of physical resilience, and (3) identify gaps and make recommendations for future research.

Methods:  A scoping review of Scopus, Web of Science, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Medline Ovid, PsycINFO, and AgeLine databases will take place using the search strategy “resilience” AND (aging OR elderly OR older adult). The initial electronic search will be supplemented by hand searching the reference lists and review articles to identify any missing studies. Two parallel independent assessments of study eligibility will be conducted for the title, abstract, and full-text screens. To meet study inclusion criteria, the term “resilience” must be applied in relation to the physical health of older adults. Any disagreement will be resolved by consensus and a third reviewer consulted to make a decision if consensus is not achieved initially. Physical resilience information to be extracted are measurement instruments that describe the core domains of (1) body function or structure (signs or symptoms, etc.), (2) activity and participation (quality of life, etc.), and (3) societal impact. Tables and/or charts will map the data with distribution of studies by core domains. Finally, the amalgamation of results will be an iterative process whereby reviewers will refine the plan for presenting results after data extraction is completed so that all of the contents of the extraction may be included in the results.

Discussion:  The information gleaned in this scoping review will be essential to understand how physical resilience is currently measured and identify gaps for further research.

Document type: 
Article
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