Assistive technologies at home for people with a memory disorder

Nauha, L. et al. Dementia. Published online: October 20 2016

The aim of this study was to assess in practice whether assistive technologies support and facilitate the work of a family caregiver or care staff, and whether these technologies support the independence of a person with a memory disorder.

A comprehensive set of supportive devices and alarm systems were experimentally tested in the care of five test subjects in an assisted living facility by eight nurses, and in the care of four test subjects in a home environment by three family caregivers and one care team. Questionnaires, diaries and logged data were used to evaluate the benefits of the devices. Simple aids and alarm systems that did not need much adjusting were considered most useful by caregivers and nurses, though multiple false alarms occurred during the test period. Technical connection problems, complex user interface, and inadequate sound quality were the primary factors reducing the utility of the tested devices.

Further experimental research is needed to evaluate the utility of assistive technologies in different stages of a memory disorder.

Read the full article here

Learning and knowing technology as lived experience in people with Alzheimer’s disease: a phenomenological study

Rosenberg, L. & Nygård, L. Aging & Mental Health | Published online: 03 September 2016

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Objectives: Most research on learning in the field of dementia has studied teaching approaches, while little is known about learning as experienced and enacted by the people with dementia. The aim was to explore the lived experience of learning and maintaining knowledge related to technology among people with mild to moderate stage dementia.

Method: Seven persons with dementia were interviewed in-depth, and data were analyzed with a phenomenological approach.

Results: The participants positioned themselves on a continuum from ‘Updating and expanding is not for me’ to ‘Updating and expanding is really for me’. They used different ways of learning in their everyday life – relying on one’s habituated repertoire of actions, on other people or on technology itself, or belonging to a learning context.

Conclusions: We have much to gain from better understanding of how people with dementia strive to learn and maintain their skills and knowledge related to technology. This is particularly important as they seem to use other approaches than those employed in current teaching methods. The necessity of learning stands out particularly when it comes to the interaction with the current multitude and ever-changing designs of technologies, including assistive technologies developed specifically to support people with dementia.

Read the abstract here

Mobile game to help dementia research

Sea Hero Quest will provide data that will help researchers better understand how diseases like Alzheimer’s affect the brain.

Sea Hero Quest follows the story of a young man who sails the ocean recovering his father’s lost memories. Rather than being given points on a map to follow, players must navigate the world themselves using methods that test their memory and orientations skills. Understanding how people navigate 3D environments is important because the skill is often one of the first lost by people who have dementia.

By playing Sea Hero Quest, researchers hope to create a database of anonymous data about how the healthy human brain navigates, which will then help them determine what causes navigational cognition to go wrong for people suffering from the disease. The more people who play the game, the more valuable data will be created which can then be used by researchers.

The free game was developed by the charity, researchers from University College London and the University of East Anglia, with the backing of communications giant Deutsche Telekom.

Sea Hero Quest is available to dowmload now for Android and iOS.

Related: BBC News Mobile game Sea Hero Quest ‘helps dementia research’ 

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

ScienceDaily. Published online 2nd March 2016.

B0003260 Composite artwork - 8 images of the brain
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