Volunteers are being sought to test technologies from phone apps to movement sensors Anglia Ruskin University launches a new research institute aimed at improving life for older adults.

Anglia Ruskin University has this week launched the Positive Ageing Research Institute (PARI), committed to address the growing challenge of ageing populations. PARI brings together a multi-disciplinary team representing many backgrounds including medicine, nursing, technology, business and the arts who have research interests and projects in the field of ageing.

As part of the institute’s work, Anglia Ruskin is working with several technology companies and public sector partners, both in the UK and in Europe, on a series of innovative projects to promote independence and wellbeing for older people.

The individual projects are part of an overall scheme called Seas2Grow, for which Anglia Ruskin has received 456,000 Euros from the European Regional Development Fund, and local volunteers are required to test the products being developed.

The projects include:

• Sensors which map out the normal movement patterns of an older person living alone. If an unusual pattern is detected, such as inactivity suggesting the person may have fallen; a change in sleep pattern; or visiting the toilet more frequently, relatives or carers can be alerted.

• An app which is aimed at organising family members centred around an older person living alone. It enables family and caregivers to keep in touch more easily and alert one another when a visit might be appropriate.

• Underwear for mild incontinence which negates the need for inconvenient pads even if the wearer is taking part in vigorous exercise.

• A walking aid designed for people who have emerging balance problems, mobility issues, decreasing muscle strength or have trouble getting up and walking around. It is designed to be a walking support, mobility aid and rehabilitation enabler all-in-one. Volunteers are sought to be part of a group to test this product either in an assisted living home, in a day centre, or in their own homes.

Professor Patricia Schofield, Deputy Dean for Research within Anglia Ruskin University’s Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education, said: “The East of England and the UK as a whole is facing new challenges brought about by people living longer.”

“Over-65s are expected to make up a quarter of the population by 2045, and PARI will bring together a series of research projects to improve the lives of older people at a time when local health services and councils are facing unprecedented pressure on their budgets.”

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