Active ageing with technology

October 27, 2019

Seventy-year-old Theresa Chan suffers from joint degeneration, which is why she needs a walking stick.


“My joints are severely abraded. They are painful when I walk or stand. My doctor suggested I replace some joints with implants, but I don't want surgery,” she said.



Smart seniors


Interested in how gerontechnology can help improve the quality of life for older adults, Ms Chan joined the Gerontechnology Practitioner Training Course under Lingnan University’s Gerontechnology & Smart Ageing Project.


The course targets elderly people and caregivers. It introduces them to devices that help seniors get around with ease and live more independent lives.


Ms Chan was impressed by a smart walking stick that is equipped with senior-worthy features like a flashlight with an adjustable safety light, a siren for emergency use and a radio.


“I am grateful for the course because I can learn more about gerontechnology in my free time. After class, I can share my knowledge with others who have no idea about this new technology. It is modern and I want to keep up with the times and progress,” she said.


Youth opportunities


Gerontechnology has also opened up career opportunities for young people.


Cecilia Auyeung recently graduated from Lingnan University with a major in marketing. Last year she set up a social enterprise called Gatherly. It provides a platform for the elderly to teach other people handicraft skills and helps them to sell their products online.


Ms Auyeung joined the Socialpreneur Incubation Course under the Lingnan University project. It encourages the development of social enterprises in Hong Kong, gerontechnology and marketing. She quickly drew inspiration from other socialpreneurs.


“I discovered that my social enterprise has to change every two years according to market demands. For example, fabric bags are popular among youngsters. While the elderly at Gatherly are equipped with blue-dye techniques, I make use of their skills to create products that match the market situation.”


University contribution


According to the Census & Statistics Department, in 2036, the proportion of the population aged 65 and over is projected to be 31%. To meet the needs of an ageing population, the Government is promoting gerontechnology, which combines gerontology and technology. It focuses on providing effective solutions to increase vitality and quality of life.


The Lingnan University’s three-year project aims to enhance public understanding of gerontechnology and support smart ageing socialpreneurship development. The project also covers studies with the goal of building a database for gerontech products and services as well as social innovation and startups. The overall vision is to offer policy recommendations to the industry and Government.


Lingnan University Asia-Pacific Institute of Ageing Studies Project Manager Chloe Siu said: “Most of the participating students are willing to think out-of-the-box, using their creativity and knowledge learnt from their courses and to echo the needs of the society. We are trying to facilitate different stakeholders and community partners to create a co-working atmosphere.”


The university has also built a 2,000 sq ft Gerontech-X Lab to display over 40 gerontech products catered to healthcare, dining, living and transport. Anyone interested can book an appointment for a free visit from November 28.

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