As Canadians live longer, investigations into the factors determining their health and well-being are crucial for improving outcomes for older individuals, communities and society, says Elizabeth Saewyc, director of the UBC School of Nursing.
“We need to create an environment where seniors can remain active and have social connections,” she says. “In many cases, seniors experience a number of chronic health conditions, and it is essential to involve nurses in developing the places, technologies and policies that affect elder care.”
UBC’s Faculty of Applied Science, which integrates expertise from community planning, nursing, architecture and landscape architecture and engineering, can serve as a model for developing comprehensive solutions, believes Dr. Saewyc.
“Nurses are increasingly interacting with technology. For example, smart homes, which are connected to the Internet of Things, can advance health monitoring and facilitate a timely response to health events,” she explains. “Another example is the use of virtual reality software for managing chronic pain.”
Technology solutions can help to improve the quality of life for seniors, yet an abundance of “machines, noises and lights can also be distracting,” says Dr. Saewyc, who calls for “engaging with technology in ways that are ethical and ensure that people’s humanity and needs remain central to the care we provide.”
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