Gradiant | News
The first conference of partners of the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing has taken place on Tuesday 6 November in Brussels. The European Innovation Partnerships (EIPs) are a new instrument promoted by the European Commission which will bring together public and private actors at EU, national and regional level to tackle the big challenges Europeans face such as climate change, energy and food security, health and an ageing population. These challenges also represent opportunities for new business and the Partnerships will aim to give the EU a first-mover advantage in these markets.
Gradiant (the Galician Research and Development Center in Advanced Telecommunications) has played a very active role in the EIP since its launch, and has been present in Brussels as a member of the Action Group A2, which focuses on personalized health management, starting with a falls prevention initiative.
The opening session of the conference has featured speeches from the EC Vice President Neelie Kroes, and the Secretary-General for Health and Consumer Affairs of the Spanish Government, Pilar Farjas, who provided Spain’s views on the ageing society issue. In the afternoon session, the Regional Minister of Health of the Government of Galicia, Rocío Álvarez Mosquera, has participated in the expert panel discussion, where she highlighted the role of the regions in this health area through concrete examples carried out within the Galician Public Health Service (SERGAS).
Over fifteen different regions of European countries have been presented at this conference, which represents an important milestone in the implementation of the EIP. During the event, the action plan and the governance structure of the EIP were made public. The conference has been useful for detecting synergies among members of different groups and parties acting in active and healthy aging.
What is active aging?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “active aging” is defined as “the process of optimizing opportunities for physical, social and mental health throughout life, with the aim to extend healthy life expectancy, productivity and quality of life in old age.” This definition includes not only ageing from a health care perspective, but also all the social, economic and cultural factors impacting aging people .
Active ageing should be considered a primary objective both by society and by policy makers, as a way to improve independence, health and productivity of the elderly.
Society must support a “culture of active and healthy aging” that allows the elderly to:
• Suffer less for disabilities related to chronic diseases.
• Require less health and social care.
• Prevent isolation while maintaining their independence and a good quality of life.
• Keep contributing to society at economic, social, cultural and political levels, both through remunerated and volunteering activities.
This support should be provided in the areas of health, economy, jobs, education, justice, housing and transportation.
Technology for healthy seniors
Gradiant participated in the conference as a member of the EIP’s Action Group A2, which focuses on the use of technology for fall prevention, a problem that hinders the independence of a large number of elderly worldwide.
Falls are the leading cause of injury among older people. Each year, one in three adults over 65 suffers a fall. These falls often lead to long-term disabilities, severe dependence or fatal injuries. The costs associated with treatment and rehabilitation of falls represent a very significant share of the yearly expenditure of any health system. However, falls and harm from fall can be prevented or minimized if certain strategies are followed and the right technology is applied.
Most falls and injuries in elderly people are caused by a combination of age and disease-related conditions and the interaction of individuals with their social and physical environment. Physical activity, training of balance, and exercise are effective tools for preventing the problem.
Gradiant has been contributing to the elaboration of the Action Plan for A2 during the last months. Gradiant provides here its expertise both in new technologies for physical activity promotion, strength and balance training and exercising, and in the streamlining of fall rehabilitation processes. Once again, Gradiant provides the link between research and innovation through the technology transfer of new solutions to our S ociety. In addition, Gradiant will help Action Group A2 develop an European benchmarking tool to support bests practices to be transferred to European regions. Finally, Gradiant will integrate the team that will build a network of partners engaged on fall prevention.
The goal is to get an official programme for early diagnosis and prevention of falls by 2015, validated by the European Commission, and in which at least 10 European countries will be present.