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Volunteering is not only rewarding, but also good for our physical and mental health. Studies show volunteering helps reduce stress, combat depression, reduce social isolation, provide mental stimulation and give us a strong sense of purpose. Did you know volunteering can also create real-world solutions that will make a meaningful impact on the lives of older Canadians and caregivers?

If you’re looking for a unique and fulfilling way to make a difference, come join us at AGE-WELL. As a national network of researchers, industry and non-profits dedicated to helping Canadians be healthy, active and independent as they age, we are developing technologies and services that address mobility, memory and other challenges that often increase with age.

But cool technologies are useless if they’re not practical or appealing to the target end users. That’s why AGE-WELL is also a network of older adults and caregivers who are actively engaged in the research and development process. More than 4,500 are involved in AGE-WELL projects, and more are always welcome. With over 70 projects underway, there is sure to be something that will capture your interest.

Here are three projects for which we need volunteers, like you, today:

1) Seniors and technology
You are invited to participate in a research study led by Dr. Rosalie Wang about the views of seniors and caregivers on technology, such as computers, mobile telephones and the Internet. By participating in a face-to-face interview lasting up to an hour, you will help us to better understand how these technologies are used in daily activities and social life, as well as how easy or hard it is to get and use these technologies. We are looking for participants who use and do not use such technologies.

The interview will be located at 500 University Ave. (University of Toronto), or a place that is agreed upon by you and the researchers.

For more information, please contact Natalia Zdaniuk by telephone 416-946-8573 or email: n.zdaniuk@mail.utoronto.ca.

2) Early onset dementia
You are invited to participate in a research study led by Drs. Arlene Astell and Jen Boger about the experience of people who are diagnosed with Early Onset Dementia and Mild Cognitive Impairments (EOD/MCI) while in the workforce. Participants will attend an interview or focus group lasting one to two hours. We are interested in the experiences of people who develop EOD/MCI while in the workforce, the reaction of their employer and colleagues, and the impact on the individual and their family. You are invited to participate if you:

a) Were recently diagnosed with EOD/MCI and are currently working or recently gave up work

b) Are a family member, friend, or co-worker of someone who was recently diagnosed who is participating in the study, and agrees to you taking part

c) Are an employer and have worked with someone who has been diagnosed with EOD/MCI

d) Influence company policies and work adjustments for those affected by EOD/MCI.

Interviews may take place in Toronto, Durham Region or Waterloo, Ontario.

Contact: Dr. Parminder Flora 905-430-4055 ext. 6663 or email: florap@ontarioshores.ca.

3) Generation of health records
You are invited to participate in a study led by Drs. Deborah Fels and Patrick Neumann to investigate how individuals can generate their own health records and how those individuals and their health care providers can benefit from the records. To begin this research, focus groups will be conducted to identify specific data needs of the selected user groups and solicit information about the potential benefits of having a unified vital signs repository. One focus group is Older Adults, where individuals and their care providers will be among the recruits. Focus group study will involve group discussions and each study session will take one hour at Ryerson University in Toronto.

Contact: Abidin Akkok at aakkok@ryerson.ca or 416-827-6617.

This is just a taste of the volunteer opportunities available. I encourage you to join the AGE-WELL community to learn about what we do and receive updates on new projects. When you volunteer, it’s good for everyone.

Read: AGE-WELL Volunteers in Action

Read: AGE-WELL Wants Your Honest Opinions

Dr. Alex Mihailidis is scientific co-director at AGE-WELL, a federally funded Network of Centres of Excellence that is harnessing the power of new technologies to benefit older adults and caregivers. The pan-Canadian network brings together researchers, industry, non-profits, government, care providers and end-users to develop solutions for healthy aging. He is also a professor at the University of Toronto and holder of the Barbara G. Stymiest Chair in Rehabilitation Technology Research at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute ‒ University Health Network.