University of Southern California
University of Southern California
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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USC-designed smartphone app aims to get older adults “Moving Up”
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Less than 10% of people aged 65 and up meet the national guidelines for physical activity. USC researchers are seeking to increase this figure through Moving Up, a mobile phone app geared toward older adults.

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By Rishbha Bhagi / USC Viterbi School of Engineering

Moving Up app logo

Stacey Schepens Niemiec has long been passionate about using technology to improve the health and wellness of older adults. She became concerned with the widening of a “digital divide” among older adults that was limiting their access to technology-based health resources and services that are typically more widespread with younger populations.

Schepens Niemiec, an assistant professor of research at the Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at the USC Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry, has made it her mission to help close this digital divide however she can. One way is through Moving Up, a mobile phone app designed to help improve physical activity in older adults. The research project includes co-investigators from the USC Keck School of Medicine and Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, and is built on the innovative DERIVA data management platform through a collaboration with researchers from the Informatics Systems Research Division (ISRD) at the Information Sciences Institute (ISI), part of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. To date, Moving Up is the only smartphone app that offers a suite of features specifically optimized to address inactivity in older individuals.

As Schepens Niemiec, the PI on the project, pointed out, most ads for health and wellness apps and wearables target younger demographics, or late-midlife at most, and the specific issues older populations may have with physical activity end up getting ignored. “The issue isn’t just about to whom [health and wellness] products are marketed,” she continued. “These technologies rarely include consideration of the unique factors relevant to older adults that may facilitate or hinder utilization of these tools to assist them in living a healthy lifestyle.”

This is something Schepens Niemiec aims to change as part of her research. “I want health technology to be equally accessible to adults across the lifespan,” she said. “Moving Up is just one of those efforts to bring a healthy lifestyle app directly to older adults.”

Read the full article at USC Viterbi School of Engineering.