Technology-based tools and services for people with dementia and carers

Klara Lorenz et al. Technology-based tools and services for people with dementia and carers: Mapping technology onto the dementia care pathway. Published in Dementia, February 2017

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This paper provides an overview of the role of technology in dementia care, treatment and support by mapping existing technologies – by function, target user and disease progression.

Technologies identified are classified into seven functions: memory support, treatment, safety and security, training, care delivery, social interaction and other. Different groups of potential users are distinguished: people with mild cognitive impairment and early stages of dementia, people with moderate to severe dementia and unpaid carers and health- and social care professionals. We also identified the care settings, in which the technologies are used (or for which the technologies are developed): at home in the community and in institutional care settings.

The evidence has been drawn from a rapid review of the literature, expert interviews and web and social media searches. The largest number of technologies identified aim to enhance the safety and security of people with dementia living in the community. These devices are often passive monitors, such as smoke detectors. Other safety interventions, such as panic buttons, require active intervention.

The second largest number of interventions aims to enhance people’s memory and includes global positioning systems devices and voice prompts. These technologies mostly target people in the early stages of dementia. A third group focusing on treatment and care delivery emerged from the literature. These interventions focus on technology-aided reminiscence or therapeutic aspects of care for people with dementia and their carers.

While the review found a range of technologies available for people with dementia and carers there is very little evidence of widespread practical application. Instead, it appears that stakeholders frequently rely on everyday technologies re-purposed to meet their needs.

Delirium could accelerate dementia-related mental decline

When hospitalized, people can become acutely confused and disorientated. This condition, known as delirium, affects a quarter of older patients and new research shows it may have long-lasting consequences, including accelerating the dementia process. | via ScienceDaily

 

 

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New research by UCL and the University of Cambridge shows delirium may have long-lasting consequences, including accelerating the dementia process. Episodes of delirium in people who are not known to have dementia, might also reveal dementia at its earliest stages, the research found.

Scientists looked at three European populations — in Finland, Cambridge and UK-wide — and examined brain specimens in 987 people aged 65 and older. Each person’s memory, thinking and experience of delirium had been recorded over 10 years towards the end of their life.

When these were linked with pathology abnormalities due to Alzheimer’s and other dementias, those with both delirium and dementia-changes had the most severe change in memory.

Journal Reference: Daniel H. J. Davis et al. Association of Delirium With Cognitive Decline in Late Life  A Neuropathologic Study of 3 Population-Based Cohort Studies JAMA Psychiatry, January 2017

Effects of smartphone-based memory training

Seo Jin Oh et. al. Effects of smartphone-based memory training for older adults with subjective memory complaints: a randomized controlled trial. Aging & Mental Health.  Published online: 10 Jan 2017

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Objectives: We explored whether newly developed application (Smartphone-based brain Anti-aging and memory Reinforcement Training, SMART) improved memory performance in older adults with subjective memory complaints (SMC).

Method: A total of 53 adults (range: 50-68 years; 52.8% female) were randomized into either one of two intervention groups [SMART (n = 18) vs. Fit Brains® (n = 19)] or a wait-list group (n = 16). Participants in the intervention groups underwent 15-20 minutes of training per day, five days per week for 8 weeks. We used objective cognitive measures to evaluate changes with respect to four domains: attention, memory, working memory (WM), and response inhibition. In addition, we included self-report questionnaires to assess levels of SMC, depression, and anxiety.

Results: Total WM quotient [t(17) = 6.27, p < .001] as well as auditory-verbal WM score [t(17) = 4.45, p < .001] increased significantly in the SMART group but not in the control groups. Self-reports of memory contentment, however, increased in the Fit Brains® group only [t(18) = 2.12, p < .05).

Conclusion: Use of an 8-week smartphone-based memory training program may improve WM function in older adults. However, objective improvement in performance does not necessarily lead to decreased SMC.

Device to combat memory loss from brain injury, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease created

ScienceDaily. Published online 2nd March 2016.

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Image source: Heidi Cartwright – Wellcome Images

UT Southwestern Medical Center has joined a consortium of seven leading universities to develop new technologies to improve memory in people with traumatic brain injury, mild cognitive impairment, epilepsy, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Specifically, UT Southwestern is part of a study with the goal of developing an implantable neural monitoring and stimulation system by the end of 2018 that would treat memory loss.

Researchers plan to use safe levels of electrical stimulation to test new ways of improving brain function and memory in neurosurgery patients who already receive brain stimulation as part of their therapy for epilepsy. Their goal is to determine whether brain stimulation delivered when these individuals play memory games will improve their memory ability.

Read the full story here