Dramatic changes are happening in the demographics of the US and global population. It is estimated that by 2030, 22% of the US population will be over 65 years of age. People are living longer and are pursuing a more active and independent life styles than past generations. This ‘graying of America’ has brought into focus how we design new infrastructure and systems to meet the needs of older adults. The Colleges of Applied Health Sciences and Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are leading the effort to bring technology to the fore in promoting independent and healthy lives for older adults. From delivery of healthcare solutions, to design of homes, workplaces, transportation systems and communication devices, engineering will play a very important role in the future society.
To cater to this societal change, we will rely increasingly on computer systems, networked devices, smart information and infrastructure grids and improved communications technologies, among other technologies. However, technology is only useful if it is developed with input from the population it serves. Applied Health Sciences is at the translational forefront to assist engineers in developing and implementing effective, user-friendly solutions to promote independence and health in our culturally diverse aging society. As such, the Healthy Aging Community at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is addressing these challenges by bringing a diverse set of experts from engineering, health, and the social and behavioral sciences together to tackle the large challenge that faces us.