A report in GP Online about a Medical Research Council (MRC) study published in the Lancet raises questions about what lies behind a 24% lower rate of dementia in older people in 2011 than was predicted by a previous study. Dementia rates ‘falling in UK’, research shows.
MyHomeHelper, a product for dementia clients to stay independent in their own homes, beat off competition from over 200 nominations to become one of three products selected as a finalist at this year’s Technology4Good awards. They are up against some big companies such as Barclays Bank and would appreciate votes for them on that page and, as tweets count in addition, they are also hoping for tweets about them using hashtag: #T4GMyHomeHelper.
Steinkrug, a UK based research and development company has developed an Android app for tablet-based devices that monitors users’ responses to sound and images. The technology has been designed for use in dementia research but has potential for wider applications within and beyond the healthcare sector. Whereas Google Glass looks outwards into the wearer’s environment, Steinkrug’s application tracks the user’s response to media displayed on the device. Press release: Android App For Dementia Research and Therapy.
Not telehealth or telecare directly, but relevant to many TTA readers, a new Europe-wide research findings from the King’s College London’s Cicely Saunders Institute and Project BuildCARE explores people’s preferences when it comes to decision-making at the end of life. Dr Daveson, lead author of the paper, said that when thinking about scenarios of lost capacity, for example, most people in Europe do not want to make decisions about their healthcare in advance. Some people decide not to make end of life decisions about their care before they absolutely have to because:
- They believe that they will not know what they will want to choose until they are in the situation
- It is easier not to think about it
- They think that avoiding making decisions beforehand will avoid burdening family members
However, 53% of survey respondents wanted their partner or spouse to be involved in helping them make their decision and 40% also wanted other relatives to be involved. This means that for many people these will be family decisions. Preferences for self-involvement in decision-making – new research findings from across Europe: What would you choose? KCL main site. Infographic (PDF download)
According to a BBC TV report (may not be viewable outside the UK), Sussex Police has become the first force in Britain to pay for GPS tracking to help people with dementia. They are using the £27/month Mindme device.
UPDATE 2 May: Mike Clark on the 3millionlives LinkedIn group has pulled together links to items that are appearing in response to the above BBC report. For readers without access to the group they are from the Guardian; the Telegraph, the BBC and the Alzheimer’s Society. Judging by the comments on the Guardian article, the National Pensioners Convention badly misjudged the public mood on this one, and their press release muddles the issues of service funding, who should be responsible for people with dementia, and social isolation.
Clevermind for dementia, cognitively disabled
The new Clevermind app/user interface for iPad is designed to simplify the internet for active use by those with Alzheimer’s disease, dementias or others who are cognitively impaired for a variety of reasons. According to founder Glenn Palumbo in an interview with Neil Versel, “The initial release, set for June will have limited functionality, serving as the front end for communication and social hubs like Skype, Facebook and Twitter, with a simplified display including a basic Web browser.” Depending on the stage that the dementia is in, it can be a boon in mental stimulation or as their website terms ‘neuroplasticity’, if presented appropriately–or, based on your Editor’s knowledge of working with dementia sufferers, potentially quite upsetting. The secondary markets that Mr. Palumbo mentioned, stroke patients and children with disabilities, may be more favorable. Clevermind is on Kickstarter with an initial goal of $10,000 but has raised a low $1,717 with 23 days to go. (Hint: try a healthcare- oriented crowdfunding site like Medstartr or Health Tech Hatch for your next round.)
GeriJoy’s ‘virtual pet’ to engage older adults
Another iPad and Android tablet app, GeriJoy, uses the interface of a virtual pet to respond to the user both by voice and touch to lessen isolation, loneliness and increase connectivity to loved ones and friends. Another asset of these tablets is that they have two-way capability, and that active monitoring can help an older person in a bad situation. From the release: (Co-founder Victor) “Wang describes how a customer adopted a GeriJoy Companion for her elderly father, who lives alone. One day, the companion woke up to a loud sound, and heard a paid caregiver screaming at the elder. GeriJoy reported the abuse to the customer, who was very grateful and replaced the caregiver that week.”
Sideline and ringside voice testing for concussion
Researchers at the University of Notre Dame have developed a tablet-based test that can detect injury through before-and-after voice analysis. For instance, an athlete recites a series of words before a game, recorded on a tablet. If there’s a suspected concussion or brain injury, the same words are used and software compares differences. Injury indicators can be pitch, hyper nasality, distorted vowels and imprecise consonants–and the tests are far more difficult to fake. In action in this video, the tests also appear to include spatial and balance. Associate Professor Christian Poellabauer describes the research below using Notre Dame’s boxing teams.[This video is no longer available on this site but may be findable via an internet search]
Somewhat overshadowed this week by the high profile O2 launch, but highly complementary to it, was the launch of Just Checking’s (JC) new version for the general public. For many people concerned about relatives living with dementia the JC system of in-home sensors and text or email alerts triggered by various events or non-events will have great appeal.
Until now, JC systems have been primarily sold to services for assessment purposes. The new version is designed for easy self-installation and online management by carers and can be set up to trigger an alert under the following conditions:
- Exit property: if an exterior door is used and no activity is detected in the property.
- Not up and about: if there is no sign of life by a specified time in the morning.
- Visitor late: with carers expected at certain times an alert can be sent if the front door is not opened as expected.
- Door left open: if a door is left open for longer than a specified time. This will send an alert if the door has not been shut securely.
It does not have an alarm button and it does not track the person when outside – but there are other systems which can do that.
Follow the ‘Read more…’ link to see a video from 2010 showing ease of Just Checking self-installation. (more…)
For most of us, brushing our teeth is part of the daily routine; though we may not brush to our dentist’s standards, we generally get the job done. For someone with learning disabilities or dementia, the routine can be filled with gaps, leading to loss of dental (and other) health. This bit of artificial intelligence dubbed TEBRA monitors each of the many steps in tooth brushing and helps guide the user when a step is missed. Developed by a team at Germany’s Bielefeld University, it’s currently in test locally and will be presented at the International Conference on Health Informatics in Barcelona, Spain next week. This is a possible model for other behavior guidance systems–perhaps a partnership between TEBRA and the HAPIfork? Time to rinse! AI assistant helps clean your teeth (New Scientist) Hat tip to TANN Ireland’s Toni Bunting.
Telecare and sensor-based monitoring may now be occupying a smaller, quieter corner of the health tech boom, having been through its own hype curve, but worth noting is the story of Vigil Health Solutions of Vancouver BC Canada which has concentrated on sensor-based support of dementia patients living in assisted living ‘memory care’ areas, hybrid call systems and bed monitoring, hardwired systems, perimeter monitoring and resident check-in. Steve Moran’s interview with CEO Troy Griffiths touches on tech that looked like it met a need, but proved impractical; the need for unobtrusive assistance to improve the quality of life for residents with dementia; the fragmented marketplace in call systems; system integration difficulties; how Wi-Fi is not proving ideal for networking; and how fall detection is still the out-of-reach Holy Grail. (Caveat–Mr. Moran is with Vigil but also blogs on a wide variety of topics on his Senior Housing Forum) A perspective on Emergency Call Systems and Senior Housing Technology
Telecare Soapbox: A woman died of starvation and dehydration after her home care ceased. A question for telecare services (UK)
Editor Steve picks up on a sad situation and poses a question.
Mrs Foster was an 81-year-old Surrey woman with dementia who lived at home supported by visits from agency carers four times a day. This appears to have been a reasonable state of affairs until the UK Border Agency closed down the agency owing to allegations that they were employing illegal immigrants. The local council had been notified in advance so that it could put alternative arrangements in place for the agency’s clients but Mrs Foster seems to have slipped through the net. Unable to look after herself, she was left starving, dehydrated and without her medication. Nine days later she was found by (more…)
As part of the publicly-funded Trygge Spor research project, more than fifty people with dementia have been using GPS for periods from several weeks to up to a year. The results show that “localisation technology helps achieve an increased sense of security, freedom and quality of life, both for sufferers and their next of kin.” The results are being presented now at a major seminar held at Gardermoen, and will be followed throughout 2013 by scientific articles. Dementia sufferers benefit from GPS. SINTEF. It will be interesting to see over the coming months the types of technology they have tested and the different results received as well as their ideas on what a whole service will look like. Mike Burton, Telecare Officer, Hull City Council.
A US study has found that older people with hearing loss experience 30-40% greater cognitive decline over six years than their peers, bringing forward the onset of significant cognitive impairment by over three years. The connecting link seems to be social isolation… Hearing loss ‘linked to dementia’ GP Online item.
First ever trial to measure how much longer people with dementia can live in their own homes with telecare (UK)
We missed the announcement by the Department of Health (DH) just before Christmas about the UK’s first ever trial (‘The ATTILA Trial’) to measure how much longer people with dementia can live safely and independently in their own homes when they are provided with a specialised telecare package. Kings College London and sites in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Oxford and Norwich will be involved in a £1.8m four-year randomised controlled trial, with publication expected in…2018. DH announcement. Trial details here and here. Heads-up thanks to Celia Price of JustChecking.
“Are the best run care homes…the ones where, on the face of it, staff display the least respect.?” An interesting question posed on the Alphadaughters website to kick off research by Steinkrug, with Manchester Municipal University, on a project to develop technology that will help the family carer come to terms with the emotional aspects of dementia and which could possibly be used as a therapeutic aid for the people with dementia themselves. Why Do They Talk To Your Mother Like That?
The Hogeway care home near Amsterdam provides an environment for dementia sufferers which is quite unlike what we see in memory care units. It is an eight ‘house’ community built around a large enclosed courtyard where residents are free to walk and sit. Each house is structured like a large family home with eat-in kitchen and a lifestyle theme (e.g. urban) that influences the decor, food and experiences. ‘Alternate reality’ is what it is dubbed in the 1:26 video from BBC News, but what it does is give a resident understandable surroundings with appropriate stimulation and most importantly, socialization that seems to work within their limitations, for some happiness and improved quality of life. Editor Donna would have liked more observation of the residents, but appreciates that even the most discreet film crew would be profoundly disruptive of their everyday routine and potentially upsetting. It should give senior housing people in the US and UK at least a few ideas away from the isolation that tends to pervade many memory care wings. Dementia patients in Dutch village given ‘alternative reality’.
March and June 2013, York and Newcastle UK
- Preventing the need for long term care and re-hospitalisation using re-ablement strategies, University of York, Thursday 7th February 2013
- Assistive technology and telecare for learning disability services, University of York, Thursday 14th March 2013
- Technology and innovation for managing people with dementia, Newcastle University, Wednesday 19th June 2013
- Prevention of falls and loss of independence in the frail elderly – including technology, Newcastle University, Thursday 20th June 2013
Details on website: http://www.cuhtec.org.uk/