Welcome, JH AITC!

The Johns Hopkins Artificial Intelligence and Technology Collaboratory for Aging Research (JH AITC) launched on January 10 with a website that listed two impressive Requests For Proposals (RFPs) that seek to make an impact on technological projects to improve the health and well-being of older adults.

Funded by the National Institute of Aging Grant P30AG073105, the aging-focused JH AITC is designed to foster the development of novel uses of artificial intelligence and technologies to improve the health and well-being of older adults. The JH AITC is one of three centers at significant leading research institutions resulting from the new $20M federal grant. The other two are at the University of Massachusetts and the University of Pennsylvania.

You can read more background about this coordinated, multicenter effort at Johns Hopkins University here. Collaboratory leaders include members from the Johns Hopkins University schools of MedicineNursing, the Whiting School of Engineering, and the Carey Business School, as well as stakeholders including older Americans and caregivers, technology developers and innovators, and industry partners.  The JH AITC’s tagline nicely sums up their role and goal among their peers: “Engineering Innovations to Change Aging.”

COAH colleagues Drs. Jeremy Walston and Peter Abadir are among the multidisciplinary PIs leading the effort. According to Dr. Walston, this initiative is important because “Many older adults accumulate health problems and have functional and cognitive declines that impact their ability to stay in their own homes and enjoy meaningful social interactions… This new enterprise is attempting to disrupt these problems in ways that will lengthen the years that people have to enjoy independent, highly functional lives, free of cognitive impairment.”

To this purpose, the RFPs can be found here:

Interested applicants are encouraged to attend an informational webinar on January 18 at 3 PM ET. To register, visit here. The applications are due a month later on February 18.

For more information about this program and about JH AITC resources, please email jhu-aitc@jh.edu and follow @JH_AITC on Twitter.

COAH welcomes the JH AITC and looks forward to watching its successes unfold, making a meaningful difference in the real world of older adults.

By Anthony L. Teano, COAH Comm. Spec. & Ann Wiker, JH AITC Admin. Mgr.

Dr. Ravi Varadhan

Variety is the Spice of Life

Ravi Varadhan, PhD, an Associate Professor of Oncology in the Division of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center and a Core Faculty member at the Center on Aging & Health in the Division of Gerontology in the Department of Geriatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine will present “Variety is the Spice of Life: An Exploration of the Various Facets of Heterogeneity in Aging” at the February 7th Scientific Seminar Series.  In person attendance is encouraged.  To attend via Zoom, registration is required at https://bit.ly/3eZo8Qc.

Image of senior couple

The Gift of Caring

Recently, COAH Director Dr. David L. Roth was interviewed by the American Heart Association for an article about caregiving titled, “The risks and rewards of caregiving for loved ones with dementia.” The story is about the struggles of a husband and wife, Pat and John Sullivan, who have been together for forty years. John has Lewy body dementia. Pat is taking care of him.

The act of caring is clearly a gift of love, especially when dementia is involved; that scenario may last for years, and it may be very emotional and physically exhausting, to the point that it might affect the caregiver’s health. Adding to that risk, and what may not be readily apparent at first glance is that Pat needs to take care of her health, too, since she has type 2 Diabetes and is 79 years old.

In the AHA story, Dr. Roth explains, “The main people who are at risk of physical health problems are those who feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities and have been doing it many months or even years, so it has a wear and tear effect on their systems… They feel like they have little control or choice and can’t get additional resources to help them carry the load.”  Yet, Dr. Roth’s research on stress biomarkers among caregivers has shown that the act of caregiving may actually have health benefits, akin to the effects of volunteerism.

Aside from the inevitable heavy responsibilities associated with caring for someone with dementia, the article implies that stress management may actually be the key difference between caregivers’ ability to cope. Pat Sullivan makes time to meditate, practice gratitude, and call upon her family and support system when needed.

As you call, Zoom, or visit with family and friends this holiday season, consider asking caregivers how they are doing, if they need anything, and how you can help.  Be ready to point the caregiver in the right direction. To that purpose, here are a few caregiver resources:

National:

State of Maryland:

Johns Hopkins Affiliated:

In the article, Dr. Roth indicated that one caregiver shouldn’t try to do it alone. There are community resources that can help, and perhaps other family members or loved ones can contribute to respite care. In summation, the gift of caring needs to extend to caregivers, too. And the resources above may offer direct services or help identify providers.

Additionally, here is a short list of Dr. Roth’s research on caregiving:

Dr. Roth also recently wrote this blog for National Family Caregiver’s Month in which you might be interested:

We wish you and yours a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season!

By Anthony L. Teano

image of female with 2 males

Giving Thanks

We have a lot to be grateful for at the Center on Aging and Health, despite the difficult coronavirus pandemic times.

The Center’s programs and researchers continue to marshal new scientific insights in the field of aging and clinical excellence, supporting fellows and trainees in superb educational programs, and gaining international recognition as we strive to deliver the promise of medicine.  Here are a few accomplishments this year for which we are grateful:

  • Most recently, our researchers identified a link between severe social isolation in older adults and biological indicators associated with accelerated aging, yielding a connection with higher mortality and morbidity rates. This finding implies that, especially now, keeping older adults engaged and connected with their friends, families, and loved ones is critical to health, wellbeing, and longevity. Thomas Cudjoe, a nationally recognized expert in social cohesion and social isolation, lead the research team. You can read the paper about it here.
  • The Center’s principal investigators in the Epidemiology and Biostatistics of Aging, Translational Aging Research, Health Services Outcomes for Aging Populations, and Age-Related Cognitive Disorders have remained active in their T32 training programs, providing access to cutting-edge studies and mentoring fellows in rigorous academic programs. Read about our training programs here.
  • COAH’s director, Dr. David L. Roth, received the Gerontological Society of America’s M. Powell Lawton award, recognizing his outstanding achievements in applied methodological research. His research has benefited countless older adults and caregivers around the world. You can read more about his amazing accomplishments and top research papers here.
  • The Accelerometry Resource Core launched this year, paving the way for new wearable medical technology to advance and inform science research and clinical trials. Check out their website here.

Moreover, COAH is very fortunate that federal funding covers most of our programs. Yet there have been gaps, and we are thankful to private donors who have filled them. In particular, private donations support junior researchers who may need financial assistance to defray conference registration fees, among other things.  If you are in a position to make a tax-deductible gift, please visit Support COAH.

Please accept our heartfelt gratitude for your interest in our work.

Thank you!

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