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University of Alicante presents its strategy for optimal and healthy ageing

UA Project for healthy ageing (Mayores Salud) is based on three basic pillars, that is, eye care, technology and transfer to society  through the involvement of 300 researchers from 20 UA research groups

 

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Alicante, 15 October 2019

University of Alicante project Mayores Salud was presented to society on Tuesday. The initiative was intended as an strategy for optimal and healthy ageing that brings together all the academic and research activities developed within the institution, as well as the knowledge transfer to society. The goal is to address one of today’s social challenges, that is the ageing population.

UA President stressed that the initiative is part of a strategy to support excellence in research and teaching at the University of Alicante, bringing together research teams, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders in a highly competitive and dynamic setting. Some of the goals included are the following: To promote the exchange and transfer of knowledge, to promote the development of the concept of active and healthy ageing or optimal and smart ageing, through the strengthening of a specialised technological ecosystem; to concentrate sufficient resources and instrumental means to enable the advancement of knowledge, development and innovation in the field of healthy ageing; to contribute to training qualified professionals in response to the sector demands; to promote a collaborative, creative and local economy model based on our Mediterranean tradition and innovative capacity; to become a landmark in both training and research for ageing, both in Spain and internationally.

Palomar pointed out that the project joins scientific efforts and aims to contribute to the challenge of ageing through the involvement of more than 300 researchers from more than 20 research groups. He also assured that this is a look forward to a better future. This is a commitment that has been going on for years through initiatives such as the UA Lifelong Learning Programme for the elderly, created 32 years ago as a scientific, cultural and social development programme to improve their quality of life. The UA has also contributed to better ageing and lifestyle habits in intergenerational environments with more than 20 international projects, as well as a Master's Degree in Active and Healthy Ageing.

Regional Minister Carolina Pascual highlighted the relevance of the project as it unites synergies to promote a positive scenario for economy and health benefits.

Coordinator of the project Ana Laguna pointed out the relevance of the impact of the ageing population and the increase in life expectancy on society and the economy. This new scenario faces new challenges that make health and economy shake hands on the positive side of ageing and in this sense, the university plays a key role in raising awareness and promoting research through training and boosting a technological ecosystem that involves different sectors and industries.

 

The project was presented at the assembly hall of the UA lecture building No. 2 and was attended by UA President Manuel Palomar and Regional Minister for Innovation, Universities, Science and the Digital Society Carolina Pascual. The three main pillars of the initiative are an Eye Care Centre, a Technological Ecosystem and a Health Club.

Core strategies

University of Alicante Professor of Cell Biology Nicolás Cuenca was in charge of presenting the project of the Eye Health Centre which is structured in three main initiatives: a Basic/Translational Research Unit; a Clinical Research Unit; and a Technological Research Unit.

Cuenca stressed that age is a risk factor in vision loss and that this represents a very important loss of autonomy. He explained that this initiative has four strategic lines: bringing research closer to the population and to patients, combining basic and clinical science; consolidating UA research groups of excellence; developing innovative scientific and technological content; and creating a joint centre with the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC).

The Professor also assured that the CRISPR-CAS9 technology developed by UA researcher Francis Mojica has revolutionised research in our field, enabling the repair of genetic mutations.

UA Polytechnic School Director Andrés Montoyo presented the second strategy of the project, that is, a Technological Ecosystem, which is based on three blocks; telecommunications, home and building automation. Montoyo explained that the technology oriented towards the elderly generates a new market niche and a progressive technological research aimed at personal independence and social inclusion.

The Technological Ecosystem defines five lines of action: (1) to promote research into new technologies and apply it to ageing; (2) to connect all groups for joint collaboration and sharing their research work with a view to applying it to ageing; (3) to transfer the knowledge obtained to society through applications and training; (4) to create links with patient associations, private and public hospitals in order to capture their needs and, through technology, to improve the quality of life of the elderly; (5) and to establish customised learning channels. As for their goals, they are focused on: a) improving the quality of life at home for dependent elderly people through home automation systems; b) implementing technological advances aimed at integrating people with disabilities or handicaps; c) offering attractive and easy-to-use services to elderly people; d) offering security, comfort, care, leisure and entertainment to elderly people through digital home technologies, so that they can live autonomously; e) integrating technological solutions to offer a comprehensive solution to all the needs of the elderly; e) taking various considerations into account in the design of products for the elderly. These considerations include: usability of the devices, usability of the interface, modularity and scalability and, finally, moderate prices. Also, ICT with integration solutions for the elderly is included for their physical limitations. They are developing adaptive technologies aimed at preventing or delaying dependency in people with disabilities and the elderly. A training and dissemination programme in the scientific, technological, health and social policy fields has also been included in this part of the project.

Finally, the Health Club was presented by Faculty of Health Sciences Dean José Antonio Hurtado. Here, four main strategies were highlighted: healthcare; life and health styles; most prevalent or frequent diseases; and for women, gender and health.

A project open to society where health is enhanced, aiming to be a space for information dissemination, reflection and participation, through objective and truthful sources. This initiative aims at promoting healthy lifestyles, preventing disease and supporting chronic patients in the care of their own health. The  programme also provides training for health promoters (also known as health agents).

 

 

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