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Independent living in an ageing society through innovative ICT solutions

Europe is facing a major societal challenge in the fact of a rapidly increasing ageing population. A key challenge is to find real solutions to ensure that our older citizens are able to live healthy, fulfilling and independent lives whilst keeping health and care systems sustainable. Exciting and groundbreaking EU research and innovation efforts look set to deliver these solutions.

Digital Economy icon Digital Economy
Health icon Health

With each passing year, Europeans are living longer. Although this is to be applauded, there will be increasing demands for health, social and informal care services over the coming decades. This will have real effects on how we live, work and shape our external and domestic environments – home, communities, cities and towns. Questions over who is (or who should be) responsible for health and social care will be at the top of political agendas and concrete answers must be provided. At the same time, the changing age structure of our society can also open up new opportunities for innovation in the digital economy and society.

Setting the policy environment

Policymakers have firmly set their sights on putting cutting-edge technology and digital smart innovations at the heart of their efforts to promote Active and Healthy Ageing. The European Commission, through its Horizon 2020 and FP7 programmes, the Active and Assisted Living Joint Programme and the European Innovation Partnership for Active and Healthy Ageing, supports researchers and innovators to develop solutions that can facilitate a shift from acute, hospital-based care to early prevention, community and home-based care. Crucially, this will allow citizens to take an active role in their own care, empowering them to live truly independent lives as they age.

Showcasing innovative solutions

This CORDIS Results Pack highlights how EU-funded projects are seizing the initiative. Each one has developed or harnessed new technologies or ICT solutions that address the pressing challenges of caring for and assisting European citizens in or approaching their ‘golden years.’ For example, game-changing advances in the rapidly evolving field of robotics. The SILVER project has mobilised joint Public Procurement of innovation across a number of EU countries to create a robotic, mobile personal assistant designed to help elderly citizens live independently at home. The MARIO project meanwhile is pioneering advances in Human Robot Interaction to support patients suffering from debilitating cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s. Finally, the ALFRED project has integrated robotic and online components, including a mobile, personalised Butler, into a fully functional system that will provide context-sensitive services related to social inclusion, care, physical exercise and cognitive games. Other projects have created devices and solutions for the prevention and detection of falls. The FATE project set the groundwork for the commercialisation of a portable fall detector that can be worn on a belt with all user/device interactions carried out through an easy-to-use Android app. The IDONTFALL and ISTOPPFALLS projects have also provided solutions and platforms that will help to guarantee the physical safety of older persons. The eight projects within this Results Pack have shown the way forward on how social and digital innovation have crucial roles to play in integrating health and social care and promoting social transformation. We invite you to scroll down and explore further how they are providing the building blocks for a viable ‘Silver Economy’ that will substantially improve quality of life and provide added value for health and care systems that meet the needs of the 21st Century.