From apps to devices, contest seeks technology for seniors

Tuesday, October 15, 2013 - 15:59

DENTON (UNT), Texas — By 2030, 72.1 million Americans will be over the age of 65, almost double the number today. Yet the country faces a severe shortage of home aide workers to assist the growing senior population.

To fill that gap, technology will play an increasingly crucial role in the delivery of care and services to seniors.

LeadingAge — an association of more than 6,000 not-for-profit aging service providers nationwide — in partnership with the University of North Texas and others, has organized the first-ever LeadingAge HackFest, which will be Oct. 25-27 in Dallas.

Participants will compete to create a technology-driven tool to improve the lives of older adults and their families and caregivers. The tool can be an app, a website, an interactive online experience or a device.

“Older adults increasingly want to live at home rather than senior living facilities,” said Kim Mathis, director of UNT’s Coalition for Leadership in Aging Services (CLAS.) “Our challenge is to develop new and innovative technologies that will allow older adults to live as independently as they can while receiving the care and assistance they need.”

HackFest will bring together professionals and students from UNT and other universities in a wide range of disciplines, from science and engineering to gerontology and business marketing.

Four- to six-person teams will brainstorm, develop, design and market a tool. Judges will evaluate entries on originality, usability, feasibility, design relevance and on being most developed by the end of the session.

First place will win $5,000, and two runners-up will earn $2,000. A people’s choice winner will get $1,000. All cash prizes are donated by The Asbury Group.

Majd Alwan, executive director of LeadingAge’s Center for Aging Services Technology, said the competition aims to engage students and young professionals, whose help will be needed in coming years to develop technologies for seniors.

“The upcoming dramatic surge in the aging population, the desire of those seniors to remain independent as long as possible and the shrinking long-term care workforce constitute a mandate to create and promote aging-services technologies,” Alwan said. “Now is the time to engage more innovators to develop meaningful solutions in partnership with providers and create awareness. This HackFest will help do just that.”

HackFest is sponsored by LeadingAge and Ziegler and organized by LeadingAge, The Asbury Group, It’s Never 2 Late and UNT.

The mission of LeadingAge is to expand the world of possibilities for aging. Its members touch 4 million lives every day and include 6,000 not-for-profit organizations representing the entire field of aging services, 39 state partners, hundreds of businesses, consumer groups, foundations and research partners. LeadingAge is also a part of the International Association of Homes and Services for the Aging that spans 30 countries across the globe. LeadingAge is a 501c3 tax exempt charitable organization focused on education, advocacy and applied research.

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