The University of Kansas Gerontology Program Presents: “A Creative Aging Performance”

The University of Kansas’ Gerontology Program is sponsoring its 2017 Spring Speaker series lecture/performance, with co-sponsorship from the Departments of Psychology and Theatre, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, and the Center for Research on Aging & Disability Options (CRADO).  On April 10th at 4:00 pm (KU’s Alumni Center), we will bring you “A Creative Aging Performance”, performed by Arts & AGEing KC.  The group will present an interactive theatre arts performance and visual arts exhibit. This event will highlight developments in the field of Creative Aging and its influence on physical and mental health. The group will present selections from Dancing With Crow’s Feet©, a play to be performed at the 2017 International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics World Congress (IAGG) in San Francisco, CA.

*A reception will be hosted after the performance, and parking is available*

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KU: Building a home that helps residents stay healthy

What if your house could help keep you healthy?

That’s the notion that University of Kansas School of Architecture, Design & Planning Associate Professor Joe Colistra and his students will explore this semester through a couple of grants that aim to incorporate big data and sensing technology into the warp and woof of homes of the future.

In October, the American Institute of Architects awarded Colistra a $30,000 Upjohn Research Initiative grant. In December, Colistra received word that Mozilla’s Gigabit Community Fund had given him an additional $21,000 grant. He is pooling those grant funds to build a housing unit – or at least part of one – that will feature embedded sensors to collect residents’ biometric data, with the goal of monitoring their health. The project will be executed by fifth-year students in the school’s East Hills Design-Build Center.

“With Kansas City having Google Fiber, you ask yourself: What would you do with unlimited bandwidth? So we proceed to the question of big data collected through the built environment,” Colistra said. “What if your house could capture your heel strike, the number of times you left your apartment, the number of times you go to the bathroom, how much sleep you got last night? The idea with connectivity and the Internet of Things is to link all that data together.”

Colistra explained that the idea of a floor that could monitor heel strikes “can tell if someone has fallen, if there is a stutter in their step that is a precursor of Alzheimer’s disease. These are not your normal sensors, but ones sensitive enough to use predictive algorithms on. They would be most useful to seniors, so we are working with scientists, including Jessie Huisinga at the Landon Center on Aging2 at the (University of Kansas) Medical Center, who work on Alzheimer’s disease. They can already do gait analysis with a device like a Fitbit, but this would be in the background. You would not have to turn it on. The monitor would be in the floor. It’s an accelerometer, linked to GPS. There could be smart mirrors, smart toilets …”

Smart mirrors, he explained, look for changes in the skin – moles, lesions, the effects of stroke. Smart toilets monitor hydration and evacuation.

“We are looking at the possibility of taking hydration readings that might lead to adjusting your diuretic or heart medication on the fly,” Colistra said. “It could revolutionize geriatric medicine. Your housing unit could be like a medical device; it takes care of you.”

Colistra said the project will be done with an eye toward creating a smart house with prefabricated components (e.g., walls, floor panels) so that such items become economically viable if implemented on a large scale.

Colistra said the project will be completed by the end of the school year – with as many rooms as the funding will allow. The results will then be displayed at conferences, including Maker Faire Kansas City June 24-25 at Union Station.

“It grows out of the New Cities3 research initiative,” Colistra said. “The question there is, ‘How do we make lifelong neighborhoods?’ That includes daycare, jobs, walkable streets, and, for seniors, rehab clinics and doctors.”

Colistra said working with health insurance companies on creating such dwellings would be ideal. They might be motivated to do so with the idea of bringing down their own costs, he said.

“It’s a possible new way to make smart cities,” Colistra said. “We know all this stuff is coming. The question is how to build architecture to use it. It’s all existing technology. It just hasn’t been put together yet.”

Image: Diagram of senior living prototype unit, courtesy of Joe Colistra.

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Passive Health Monitoring: Arming Caregivers With The Right Tools

Jeff Bell from one of our corporate partners, Keystone Technologies, has written a post explaining the benefits of ‘passive health monitoring’ for supporting caregivers and patients.

“Passive Health Monitoring is a system of interlocking technologies that provides more timely response to crises. It pulls together sophisticated hardware, software, and infrared images to achieve ongoing monitoring. Such systems include sensors designed to read various aspects of motion, along with heart rate, respiratory rate, and other key indicators. These measures are then processed using sophisticated artificial intelligence software to track and interpret a resident’s normal patterns and recognize potentially dangerous deviations.”

To learn more about the benefits of passive health monitoring technology, visit:




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Inter-professional Education in Aging for Law and Healthcare Students

The UMKC health professions schools (Nursing and Health Studies, Dentistry, Medicine, and Pharmacy) along with the School of Law were recently awarded a national grant to work together to advocate for older adults.  This project team includes representatives from each of these schools, and involves three Consortium members:  Lyla Lindholm, Ann Marie Marciarille, and Joan McDowd.  The goal of the project is to promote empathy for older adults among student professionals who typically may not relate well to seniors.  Currently the team is developing a curriculum designed to get students comfortable with older adults, to listen to them, and to work together with other professions for the good of the older adult.  It is a 2-year project that will involve a total of 100 students, and is funded by the National Center for InterProfessional Education, the Josiah Macey Foundation, the Hartford Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation.  The goal of this project is to develop a model program for training professionals to work with older adults.  

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Mid-America Regional Council

The Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) is a non-profit organization that promotes ‘regional cooperation and develops innovative solutions through leadership, planning and action’ in the Kansas City metropolitan area. One MARC publication which may be of  particular interest to members of the I-70 Corridor Network on Aging is: “The Economic Impact of an Aging Population in the KC Region” report.  A link to this report can be found below.

To learn more about the MARC “Communities for all Ages” initiatives, visit


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Squaring the Life Curve with Supportive Technology

Marjorie Skubic, Ph.D., Professor Electrical and Computer Engineering and Director, Center for Eldercare and Rehabilitation Technology, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, served as the keynote speaker at the  Global Telehealth Conference  in Auckland New Zealand. In her talk Squaring the Life Curve with Supportive Technology, Dr. Skubic described the ongoing interdisciplinary research in the Center for Eldercare and Rehabilitation Technology at the University of Missouri.

For more information about her talk at the Global Telehealth Conference, please visit

For information about research at the Center for Eldercare and Rehabilitation Technology at the University of Missouri, visit

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Gerontology at UMSL

Students at the University of Missouri – St. Louis recently created a YouTube video describing the field of gerontology and promoting the undergraduate, certificate, and graduate gerontology programs at UMSL. Have a look!

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AARP Policy Innovation Challenge: Call for applications for funding

AARP has put out a call for applications for funding for their “Policy Innovation Challenge: Social Security Adequacy and Solvency” initiative.

Notice of intent to apply is due August  31st, 2016

Application for funding is due September  30th, 2016

More information can be found through the following AARP link.

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TEDx Talk: Redefining our Expectations of Aging

Ann Fisher-Jackson, Director of Marketing at Keystone Technologies, recently presented for TEDx at North Central College about how a preventative model of care could be used to improve quality of life in our later years. Read below to learn more about Keystone Technologies, Ann Fisher-Jackson, and to view this inspiring and informative TEDx talk.

Keystone Technologies

Keystone Technologies is a leading health IT services and solutions company whose mission is to improve health outcomes through innovation with a vision of enabling and empowering every person to control his or her own health. Keystone provides a broad array of cutting-edge health IT services and products, including: 1) IT infrastructure assessment, design, and installation, 2) regulatory and compliance consulting, 3) HIPAA-compliant cloud services, 4) managed services and support, and 5) health applications and solutions. Based in St. Louis, MO, Keystone Technologies brings years of experience and success to the health technology space.

Ann Fisher-Jackson

Ann joined Keystone Technologies in the summer of 2015 as the Director of Marketing. In this role, she is responsible for the development and implementation of the Keystone Technologies brand. She coordinates and manages all internal and external marketing and communications. Ann has spent her career marketing within the healthcare industry and feels a deep personal connection to improving the quality of life and quality of care for seniors. As such, her passions and values align directly with the mission of Keystone Technologies. Ann digs into Keystone’s technical world and is able to explain and easily communicate the innovative and complex services and products Keystone Technologies provides. Ann has a Masters in Public Administration from Saint Louis University and a Bachelor Degree in Political Science and Communication from North Central College. Ann is on the Board of Directors for Lupus Foundation of America, Heartland Chapter. She is happily married to her husband, Aaron, and is the proud mother of her daughter, Althea.

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KU Department of Architecture Health and Wellness: Joint Design Studio Project

LAWRENCE — During the spring semester of 2015, Assistant Professor of Architecture Hui Cai of the Department of Architecture’s Health and Wellness program organized a joint design studio with the School of Architecture at Nanjing Tech, China. That led to an agreement that paves the way for future collaboration.

The success of the class, which brought KU and NJ Tech students together to design an intergenerational community, led to the signing of a Technical, Cultural, Educational and Scientific Cooperation Memorandum of Understanding between the two schools. Under it they agree to continue to collaborate on joint research, study and educational activities, and to exchange scholars, faculty and students.

“The signing of this memorandum is one of the many ways our school is fulfilling our vision, to be a force for regional and global urbanism through design,” said Dean Mahesh Daas.

“The joint studio has established the foundation for a series of international collaborations between KU and Chinese universities,” Cai said. “And because of it, our students are more prepared for the opportunities that are present for health care designers in the global market.”

The first activity under the new memorandum is another joint studio on rural health care design that is taking place on campus through May 4.

Last year’s studio was led by Cai, Professor of Architecture Kent Spreckelmeyer and Associate Professors Zhichang Cai and Yao Fang from Nanjing Tech. Associate Professor Emeritus Dennis Domer and Dennis Cope, co-chair of the American Institute of Architects Design for Aging Knowledge Community, served as their external advisers.

It was recently announced that two of projects produced by the students during this initial studio won a third place and an honorable mention in the 2016 Chinese National Competition on International Joint Studio Design Projects. The project was the master planning of an intergenerational community near Rock Chalk Park and the result of collaboration with architecture students Ryan Falk, Holton; Justin Gomez, St. Peters, Missouri, and James McLarty, Eureka, Missouri.

“These design awards are evidence of our schools’ success in promoting design excellence through cross-cultural knowledge exchange and communication,” Cai said.

“Stacked Garden Intergenerational Community for Senior Living, Health and Wellness, Rehab,” designed by Xiaohan Chen, won third place in 2016 Chinese National Competition on International Joint Studio Design Projects out of 250 entries.

Mo Liang and Xing Ji’s “Rooftop Hiking: Intergenerational Community for Senior Living, Health and Wellness, Rehab” won an honorable mention in the same competition.

To see the projects visit

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