|Specially Appointed Professor||Hiroyuki MURATA|
The Division is responsible for planning and promoting projects to spread the concept of Smart Ageing and to apply the research results obtained at the Division of Research and Development to the society through (1) industry-university collaboration with companies in different industries, (2) intergenerational exchanges between elderly and younger students, and (3) collaborative research with leading-edge overseas research institutions.
1. Industry-university collaboration with companies in different industries
(1) Smart Ageing Square
The purposes of the Smart Ageing Square are to create a practical healthy ageing system that enables elderly individuals to maintain and improve their mental and physical health and improve the quality of life through industry-university collaborative research, and to propose such a system to the society.
The results of the basic research obtained at the Center will be related to industry through liaison activities at the Division of Strategic Planning, and industry-university collaborative research will be carried out to examine the effect of the healthy ageing system on the Smart Ageing of individuals.
In experimental studies, the local residents can directly gather in the area for the industry-university collaborative research allocated within the Smart Ageing Square. This will enable the establishment of a research and development environment that is directly related to the local residents. The Smart Ageing Square aims to establish the new style of industry-university collaboration required in a super-aged society for consistent product development from research and development to the commercialization of products.
Four factors, i.e., cognitive stimulation, regular exercise, balanced nutrition, and engagement to the society, are particularly important to maintain and improve the quality of life of elderly people. The Smart Ageing Square provides the opportunity for local residents who participate in the experimental study to develop a relationship with society.
(2) Neurosocial-economics Study
Nursing care prevention currently promoted by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry only focuses on the improving the function of locomotorium, valance of nutrition, and function of oral cavity. This approach has lack of viewpoints on prevention of dementia and depression as well as on return on investment of preventive care cost. We are anxious that current care prevention program cannot follow the predicted increase of dementia population which will cause hypanthia increase of social welfare cost.
To avoid this, the Center promotes “neurosocial-economics study” which reduces the cost of medical and care at present and future, and stimulates economic demand of individuals by life intervention such as muscle training and brain training which enable older adults to improve their brain function and mental health.
2. Intergenerational exchanges between elderly and younger students
(1) Smart Ageing College
The Smart Ageing College provides a forum where elderly people, graduate students, and young faculty members can get together to learn how to achieve Smart Ageing at the campus of Tohoku University. Approximately one hundred members of the general public, including elderly people, are publicly sought; one-year lecture courses and various seminars of different themes are organized by faculty members and young researchers at Tohoku University. We plan to give outstanding participants the chance to serve as mentors to young researchers.
In this super-aged society, how elderly people fulfill their potential and play active roles in society is particularly important. To this end, the Smart Ageing College aims to serve as an academy where social education for young students is combined with the provision of a field for elderly people to fulfill their potential.
In addition, it also aims to serve as a catalyst for the local community to transform into a “Smart Ageing Community” that can effectively deal with the various problems related to ageing. Therefore, the Smart Ageing College is an innovative project in that it provides social education for young students and utilizes the abilities of local residents.
Through the Smart Ageing College, we create a forum where elderly people and the general public can engage in direct exchange with young people and the elderly people can pass on their knowledge and wisdom to younger generations. With these activities, we will propose social system for promoting the positive social participation of
elderly people, considering them as a valuable human resource.
3. Collaborative research with leading-edge overseas research institutions
The Center is the first Japanese national university who entered into an academic partnership agreement with AARP, world’s largest nonprofit membership organization for age over 50. We sent a graduate student as the first intern for AARP, and co-hosted an international symposium held in Orlando, Florida, in fiscal 2010.
The Center and AARP conducted jointly promoting the “Smart Ageing Initiative,” which encourages the Learning Therapy, a non-pharmaceutical method to improve dementia developed by the Center, to spread out in the US. Over 1,400 nursing homes and municipalities in Japan, amounting to over 20,000 people, have tried Learning Therapy and attained outstanding results on the improvement and prevention of symptoms of people with dementia. The number of demented people in the US is approximately 5 million and the demand for the improvement and prevention of dementia is much higher than that in Japan. Therefore, high expectation is placed on Learning Therapy in the US.
4. Educational campaign of the philosophy of Smart Ageing
Prof. Ryuta Kawashima and Prof. Hiroyuki Murata published The Smart Ageing Way in 2012 from Fusosha. The book tells the philosophy of Smart Ageing and promoting the life style for Smart Ageing.
More than 300 articles and writing contribution have been published. Media and research organizations from overseas often interviews our Center.
(3) Speech engagement
Prof. Ryuta Kawashima and Prof. Hiroyuki Murata conduct more than 100 times speech engagement a year about the Smart Ageing.