AI in Elderly Care: Enhancing Lives for Individuals with Dementia

The integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) into elderly care has shown remarkable potential in providing support, enhancing cognitive functions, and improving overall well-being for those living with dementia.

The Role of AI in Dementia Care

Research in the field of AI and dementia care has unveiled innovative solutions that cater to the unique needs of individuals facing cognitive decline. These advancements not only assist in daily tasks but also contribute to a more enriching and engaging quality of life.

1. Cognitive Assistants

AI-powered cognitive assistants have been designed to offer personalized support for individuals with dementia. These assistants can provide reminders for medication, daily routines, and important events. Additionally, they can engage in conversations, helping to stimulate cognitive functions and alleviate feelings of loneliness.

Reference: Smith, J. et al. (2021). “Cognitive Assistants for Dementia: A Review of Current Developments.” Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare, 7(2), 45-62.

2. Environmental Monitoring

Smart home technologies utilizing AI have the ability to monitor the environment and ensure the safety of individuals with dementia. Sensors can detect unusual activity patterns, such as wandering or potential hazards, and send alerts to caregivers or healthcare professionals.

Reference: Johnson, M. et al. (2020). “Smart Home Technologies for Dementia: A Comprehensive Review.” Journal of Ambient Intelligence and Smart Environments, 14(4), 385-401.

3. Reminiscence Therapy through Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality (VR) applications, powered by AI algorithms, enable individuals with dementia to engage in reminiscence therapy. By recreating familiar environments or experiences, VR can trigger positive memories and emotions, promoting cognitive stimulation and emotional well-being.

Reference: Chen, L. et al. (2019). “Virtual Reality Reminiscence Therapy for Dementia: A Systematic Review.” Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology, 12(3), 178-191.

The Impact on Caregivers

AI in dementia care not only benefits the individuals directly but also has a profound impact on caregivers. Automated monitoring and assistance systems relieve some of the caregiving burden, allowing family members and healthcare professionals to focus on providing emotional support and improving overall caregiving quality.

Challenges and Future Directions

While AI has demonstrated significant potential, there are challenges to address, such as ethical considerations, data privacy, and the need for user-friendly interfaces. Ongoing research is essential to refine existing technologies and develop new solutions that address these concerns while maximizing the benefits of AI in dementia care.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the integration of AI in elderly care, particularly for individuals with dementia, represents a groundbreaking approach to improving quality of life and providing much-needed support. The examples mentioned above showcase the diverse applications of AI, from cognitive assistants to virtual reality therapy, offering a glimpse into the transformative potential of technology in the field of dementia care.

As technology continues to advance, it is crucial for researchers, caregivers, and technology developers to collaborate in shaping the future of AI in elderly care, ensuring that these innovations are accessible, ethical, and tailored to the unique needs of individuals facing cognitive challenges.

Dementia Villages: A Comprehensive Overview

Dementia villages, also known as memory care villages or Alzheimer’s villages, are innovative residential communities designed specifically for individuals living with dementia. These villages aim to provide a supportive and safe environment that caters to the unique needs of residents while promoting a sense of autonomy and normalcy in their daily lives.

How Dementia Villages Operate:

Dementia villages are typically structured to resemble a small town or neighborhood, featuring familiar elements such as houses, shops, gardens, and communal spaces. The design is purposefully created to trigger positive memories and reduce confusion among residents. Trained staff members, often referred to as “companions” rather than caregivers, assist residents in their daily activities.

Residents in dementia villages are encouraged to participate in various activities that align with their interests and abilities. Common activities include gardening, arts and crafts, music therapy, and simple household tasks. The goal is to create a sense of routine, purpose, and social interaction, which can be beneficial for individuals with dementia.

Pros and Cons:

Continue reading Dementia Villages: A Comprehensive Overview

Unlocking the Keys to Alzheimer’s Prevention: Lifestyle Strategies for Cognitive Health

As we age, maintaining a healthy mind becomes increasingly important. Alzheimer’s disease, a form of dementia, poses a significant threat to cognitive function. While there’s no foolproof method to guarantee immunity, adopting certain lifestyle habits may help prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s. Let’s explore key strategies to safeguard your cognitive well-being.

1. Stay Physically Active

Regular physical activity has been linked to a reduced risk of cognitive decline. Engaging in exercises that get your heart pumping increases blood flow to the brain, promoting the growth of new neurons. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week, such as brisk walking or swimming, coupled with strength training exercises twice a week.

2. Adopt a Brain-Boosting Diet

A nutritious diet is crucial for brain health. Embrace the Mediterranean or DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, both of which emphasize fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish (salmon, trout), walnuts, and flaxseeds, have shown promise in supporting cognitive function.

3. Challenge Your Brain Regularly

Mental stimulation is akin to exercise for the brain. Engage in activities that challenge your cognitive abilities, like puzzles, crosswords, or learning a new skill. Consider taking up activities that require both physical and mental coordination, such as dancing or playing a musical instrument.

4. Prioritize Quality Sleep

Adequate sleep is vital for overall health, including cognitive function. Poor sleep has been associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Strive for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. Establish a consistent sleep routine, create a comfortable sleep environment, and limit screen time before bedtime to improve sleep quality.

Continue reading Unlocking the Keys to Alzheimer’s Prevention: Lifestyle Strategies for Cognitive Health

The Vital Role of Medication Adherence for the Elderly

Introduction

Medication adherence is a crucial aspect of elderly care, as it directly impacts the health and well-being of seniors. Proper adherence to prescribed medications is essential to manage chronic conditions, prevent complications, and maintain a high quality of life. In this article, we will explore the importance of medication adherence for the elderly, the consequences of not taking medication as prescribed, and provide various strategies to help seniors remember to take their medications.

The Importance of Medication Adherence

Managing Chronic Conditions

Many elderly individuals suffer from chronic medical conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis. Proper medication adherence is fundamental in managing these conditions effectively. Non-adherence can result in uncontrolled symptoms, disease progression, and a reduced quality of life.

Preventing Complications

For seniors, failing to take medications as prescribed can lead to serious complications and hospitalization. For example, missing doses of blood-thinning medications can increase the risk of stroke, while non-compliance with insulin therapy can result in uncontrolled blood sugar levels and potential diabetic complications.

Continue reading The Vital Role of Medication Adherence for the Elderly

Understanding Dementia: Caregiving and Preventing Burnout

Introduction

Dementia is a challenging and complex medical condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It is a progressive and degenerative disorder that primarily affects older individuals, leading to a decline in cognitive abilities and the ability to perform daily activities. Dementia can be a heart-wrenching experience for both the individual diagnosed and their caregivers. In this article, we will explore what dementia is, provide advice for caregivers on how to care for their elderly loved ones with dementia, and offer tips on preventing caregiver burnout.

What is Dementia?

Dementia is an umbrella term for a range of cognitive impairments that interfere with a person’s daily life. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, accounting for around 60-70% of all cases, but there are several other types, including vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, and frontotemporal dementia.

Dementia is characterized by symptoms such as memory loss, confusion, disorientation, and difficulties with problem-solving and language. As the condition progresses, it can lead to personality changes, mood swings, and behavioral issues. These changes can be challenging for both the person with dementia and their caregivers.

Caring for a Loved One with Dementia

1. Educate Yourself: Understanding dementia is the first step in providing quality care. There are many reputable resources available to help you gain insight into the condition. The Alzheimer’s Association, for instance, offers valuable information and support for caregivers. Alzheimer’s Association

2. Seek Professional Help: It’s crucial to consult with healthcare professionals to develop a care plan tailored to your loved one’s specific needs. They can provide guidance on medication, therapy, and strategies for managing symptoms.

3. Create a Safe Environment: Dementia can lead to impaired judgment and safety concerns. Ensure the home environment is secure by removing tripping hazards, locking away harmful substances, and installing handrails or grab bars.

Continue reading Understanding Dementia: Caregiving and Preventing Burnout

Helping Loved Ones Who Have Cancer

Some people think that just because they are not a scientist or doctor, they are unable to meaningfully assist people who have cancer. This is simply not true, though, as there are many ways to help someone experiencing a chronic health condition that do not require a medical or scientific background. Here are some specific ways to help loved ones who have cancer.

Offer To Cook for Them

Three common side effects of chemotherapy include tiredness, nausea, and loss of appetite. All three of these symptoms can lead to someone not being able to cook or even feeling like eating. Ask your friend or loved one if they would like you to cook for them, either by bringing a home-cooked meal over to their house or by cooking a meal in their own kitchen. Of course, always ask before using their home and kitchen supplies. Chances are, someone feeling tired and stressed will appreciate the gesture, and at the very least appreciate the company. A good option is to cook a healthy meal that you know they will enjoy, perhaps a twist on a favorite childhood meal.

Continue reading Helping Loved Ones Who Have Cancer

Memory Walk London

Some of us participated at the London Memory Walk last month. Over 4000 walkers, lots of fun and plenty of sunshine…

Here are some pictures from the event:

Memory Walk London October 2018 - 1
Memory Walk London October 2018 – 1
Memory Walk London October 2018 - 2
Memory Walk London October 2018 – 2
Memory Walk London October 2018 - 3
Memory Walk London October 2018 – 3
Memory Walk London October 2018 - 4
Memory Walk London October 2018 – 4

Memory Walk are family friendly sponsored walks which bring thousands of people together across the country walking to make sure no one faces dementia alone. The events help raise money to fund vital research.
So for the next memory walk, why not join the thousands of people united against dementia.

Our latest guest blog post

Check out our latest guest post on Tena Scallan’s blog, the the ultimate caregiving expert. Tena Scallan is a passionate healthcare professional, business owner, consultant, and published author with over 25 years of experience in the health care industry.

Tena has dedicated her life’s work to serving others in hospitals, running her own in-home caregiving agency, and providing consulting and guidance for family caregivers.

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Podcast with “the bow tie guy”

Hi there,

Listen to our founder talking about Memo24 to Christopher MacLellan (aka the bow tie guy) from the Whole Care Network.

Listen to “For Medication Management its Memo24″ on Spreaker.

Christopher MacLellan, known as “The Bow Tie Guy” in the caregiving community and author of What’s The Deal With Caregiving?, Chris MacLellan brings his soothing style and personal caregiving experience to Healing Ties podcast. Featured in a 2015 Pulizter Prize nominated caregiving story In Sickness and in Health: A Couple’s Final Journey, Chris is creating a life to love after caregiving ends through writing, radio, travel, and advocacy.

4,000 steps a day for a better brain

A recent study by the UCLA research, published in the pre-print December edition of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, showed that walking more than 4,000 steps a day can improve attention and mental skills in adults 60 and older.

The study participants were divided into one of two groups: those who walked more than 4,000 steps a day and those who walked fewer steps.

The results and more details on the study can be found here.

Dancing can reverse the signs of aging in the brain

As we grow older we suffer a decline in mental and physical fitness. A new study, published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, shows that older people who routinely partake in physical exercise can reverse the signs of ageing in the brain, and dancing has the most profound effect. This article in “Science Daily” has more details on this study.

playful-couple-dancing-outdoors_23-2147562102

Credit: Created by Freepik

Discover your Alzheimer Risk Reduction Score

This is an online test you can take to discover what your Risk Reduction Score is. The test is provided by brainsalvation.com.

The Risk Reduction Score is a crucial component of the brainsalvation system. The score provides a clear guideline for understanding how your lifestyle increases or decreases your chances of developing dementia and/or Alzheimer’s. The Risk Reduction Score incorporates findings from recent, peer-reviewed medical research, and was developed under the supervision of Medical Care Corporation, a data analytics company specializing in the measurement of cognition.

background-topPicture taken from www.brainsalvation.com

Stop Alzheimers Now – Great initiative and an opportunity to Donate

This is an organization committed to increasing Alzheimer’s and Dementia awareness. Their mission is to raise private funding for Alzheimer’s research with the goal of eradicating the disease by the year 2020. Founded in 2013 by Shaun McDuffee, and a small group of fellow financial advisors, who decided to set a goal  of walking 3652 miles, the distance from the east coast to the west coast of the United States, to raise awareness for Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Check out their website on www.stopalzheimersnow.org.

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A Glimpse Down the Dementia Road

A GLIMPSE DOWN THE DEMENTIA ROAD

A guest post by Vicki Tapia.

It’s difficult to say for sure when Mom’s dementia symptoms actually began, but certainly long before they were evident to any of the extended family. My parents lived in another town, 2 hours away, and that distance provided a type of disguise for her cognitive decline. It took several years before I began to put 2 and 2 together. Sure, there were the odd behaviors of forgetting certain things such as how to correctly follow a recipe, what an eggbeater is used for or how to send email on her computer. I simply attributed it to old age, the stress of taking care of Dad (who had Parkinson’s disease) or plain old forgetfulness. The day Mom didn’t recognize her granddaughter standing before her, however, was probably the day my uncertainty took root. That was when I began to have vague suspicions there was something more nefarious happening to Mom’s brain beyond simple “old age.” Even so, it took yet another year beyond that incident before she was finally evaluated. And, by then, the diagnosis was already moderate Alzheimer’s disease.

I’ve learned that it’s not uncommon to miss clues of cognitive decline when someone we love acts in ways that go beyond normal aging. And when we do observe behaviors out of the ordinary, we often normalize or simply deny there may be an issue. If you’re close to someone who displays any of the following symptoms, it’s worth a medical evaluation.

  • Becoming more forgetful
  • Having trouble concentrating
  • Struggling to perform familiar tasks
  • Difficulty recalling names or words, or perhaps substituting words out of context
  • Getting lost in a familiar neighborhood or forgetting how to reach a well-known destination
  • Repeating the same thing or asking the same questions over and over
  • Misplacing or putting items in strange places
  • Family or friends noticing changes in behavior, mood or personality
  • A lack of desire to engage socially

Continue reading A Glimpse Down the Dementia Road

Great initiatives for our elderly

Lately I came across these 2 great initiatives focused around improving the lives of our elderly that I wanted to share with you.

nursing

*: Photograph from www.presentperfectfilm.com

1. The first one is about an initiative in Seattle, USA where they have put up a pre-school and a nursing home under the same building. It is amazing to see how the children and the elderly seem to enjoy and cherish their social interactions and the time spent together. A documentary film called “Perfect Present” was made where the day to day life in such a magic place is displayed to us.

Continue reading Great initiatives for our elderly

Thank you for the Amazing feedback from some of our most loyal users

I wanted to personally thank Val and AnneMarie for the great feedback they have given us during all these past months on their use of Memo24. Not only have we gotten some great constructive comments from them, but also some really kind words that I wanted to share with you.

Val, from Birmingham UK, is one of (if not the) the early adopters of Memo24. Val was of great help in better understanding the need of our users in general. She was also the one who, through her experience using the service, pointed us in the direction of developing a way to record the message (originally one could only type the message which was then converted into speech), so that the voice heard by her father sounds familiar.

This is what Val has to say about Memo24:

“I’m glad I found Memo24 to help in reminding my 94 year old father to take his medication from a distance of 150 miles. It’s an easy system to use, and a very reasonable price. It’s flexible, and can be altered simply to prevent the messages becoming so predictable that they’re no longer ‘listened to’! Also useful for one-off reminders of appointments etc. No system can guarantee compliance when short term memory is failing, but this does help. Very easy to check whether the message has been received. A helpful team in the background too.”

AnneMarie, from Ontario Canada, is one of our newest users, and started using Memo24 to help her Dad while she was away on holidays. But she continued using after her return as she and her Dad both “fell in love” with the service :-) .

This is what AnneMarie has to say about Memo24:

“I subscribed to the Memo24 service this past October to assist my Dad in remembering to take his medication while I was away on vacation. Memo24 reminds my Dad to take his medication twice daily. We both loved the service so much that we’ve continued using it upon my return from vacation. It has allowed me to free up some while still ensuring that my loved one is receiving the reminders that he requires to take his medications on time. As my Dad’s primary care giver, I love the fact that Memo24’s interface is customizable and so user friendly! Thank you for this wonderful service…it really has been so helpful to our family.

It is indeed this kind of testimonials that makes us feel proud to know that Memo24 is helping people around the world and keep us pushing the service to the next level.

We deeply care about our users and we are always happy to hear from them and especially to learn from their experience in order to better our service.

To all our users, Thank you.

*: image from freepik.com

Great article: Alzheimer’s and Dementia Prevention

I came across this article the other day on “Alzheimer’s and Dementia Prevention”.

The article is well written and informational, it mentions 6 pillars for preventing (or at least delaying) Alzheimer’s and other dementias. 

These 6 pillars are:

  1. Regular exercise
  2. Healthy diet
  3. Mental stimulation
  4. Quality sleep
  5. Stress management
  6. An active social life

Although these seem to be obvious steps to maintain a healthy lifestyle in general, you will be surprised to know some of the details on these 6 pillars. I encourage you to read the full article here.

*: image designed by Freepik.

Recording your reminder message is finally here.

Hello everyone,

Today we are excited to introduce to you the long-awaited recording feature in Memo24.

From now on, when specifying your reminder’s message, you can either:

  1. Enter some text, or (and this is the novelty)
  2. Record a message in your own voice

We have added this feature following the request from many of our users who find that playing a message with a familiar voice would lead to a much greater acceptance of the service by the recipients of the reminders.

And indeed for example, for elderly people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease hearing a voice which is not familiar can lead to the person to completely ignore the phone call medication reminder.

So, we are hoping that this new feature will greatly improve the usefulness of Memo24 and result in higher levels of medication adherence.

* image taken from www.freepik.com

 

Telephone call reminder that saves lives

One of the latest features addition to Memo24 is the so called “SOS alert” feature.

The way it works is very simple, when adding your telephone call medication reminder, simply add an email address or a mobile phone number where you wanna get the SOS alert.

alert

When such an alert is set, an email or an SMS* will be immediately sent in case the callee (i.e. the recipient of the reminder) did not pick up the phone after all call attempts.

In this scenario, one can think that may be something indeed went wrong with the person you care for, and receiving such an alert prompts you to take immediate action (such as trying to reach your loved one by other means or trying to call the neighbor and ask him/her to go and check up on your loved one).

That is why we think Memo24 SOS alerts can be very useful and even a life saver in some circumstances.

*: Email SOS alerts are always free and there is a nominal fee for sent SMS SOS alerts (check this link for pricing).

Top European Startups working on eHealth Elderly Care.

These days, some of the most exciting startup initiatives is coming out from the European FIWARE initiative which aims at creating a sustainable ecosystem to take advantage of the new opportunities generated  by a new wave of Internet technologies. Some of the FIWARE accelerators have focused on the promotion of eHealth and a few excellent startups have been funded to develop technologies to promote healthy, active, and independent living in particular among the elderly.

Some of my favorite startups that are focusing on elderly care:

  1. Alzhup: This App seeks to improve the quality of life of people with Alzheimer’s by integrating actual memories and scientifically-proven therapies in a single platform, slowing the cognitive decline of the patient, as well as facilitate the active participation of the entire family and care team in the treatment process.
  2. Increasetime: The main focus of this startup is to promote the quality of life of the general population, with a special focus on patients with chronic diseases and on the independent, active and quality ageing. They develop health care solutions based on ICT (information and communications technology) and wireless sensors.
    The solutions allow a continuous monitoring of the elderly person’s health state and, through a leading edge alarm system, they allow a quick intervention in case of an emergency.
  3. Sentimoto: They develop novel methods for the analysis of long-term physical activity, physiological and environment data collected by wearable sensors, with the aim of identifying social withdrawal and altered behavioral patterns that are predictive of decreased quality of life and a need for social care intervention. They aim to provide easy, trusted sharing of these insights, putting well-being information into the hands of older people and their circle of care.
  4. InCitytogether: Is another useful App that empowers the elderly and promote healthy and active ageing. In addition to monitoring some of the person’s vital signs (e.g heart beat rate, blood pressure, sugar level) and securely sharing this data with your GP and/or a relative, this App also provides real time information from city sensors, which warn seniors about environmental changes (heat, cold, rain, etc.) and health issues (pollution, pollen count, etc.). The App (and provided sensors) can also monitor your activity level and sleep patterns, and it will even inform you about your city’s cultural, educational, and fun events happening around you :-).

In short, these initiatives all have a common goal which is to empower the elderly and allow them to remain at home* and enjoy an independent life for as long as they can.

 

*: According to research by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP),  nearly 90 percent of seniors want to stay in their own homes as they age, often referred to as “aging in place.” (source: www.iyhusa.com/AginginPlaceFacts-Data.htm)

Useful Medication Reminders Tips, but Scary Statistics!

Hi,

Today I found this pretty cool infographic by canadadrugcenter.com on simple tips to remember to take your medication and improve your medication compliance / adherence. The infographic was partly inspired by this blog post on psychcentral.com.

The scary thing though is that, according to this source, more than 50% of seniors forget to take their medications and that in the USA alone there are 125,000 yearly deaths from improper taking* of medications :(.

*: which can be forgetting to take medication, taking the wrong medicine, etc.

3 ways to remember your medication

There is a variety of products and services on the market which you can use to set up your (or someone else’s) reminders and in particular your medication reminders. However, one can roughly divide them into 3 main categories:

1.     Hardware devices

These can be from simple, compartmentalized boxes to very sophisticated electronic devices. Compartmentalized pill boxes (like these https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pill_organizer) are simple plastic boxes where one can place pills in separate compartments for each day of the week and time of the day (typically morning, afternoon, and evening). These are in fact to be considered more as pill organizers rather than medication reminders. A step up in this category are electronic pill boxes, which can be seen as pill boxes with the addition of some kind of visual or audible alarm that will trigger with a given schedule. Some will even have a locking mechanism to control which compartment to open at which given day/time (http://www.medminder.com/). And some more advanced versions can be even equipped with some kind of a caregiver alerting mechanism and/or a two-way communication with a medical emergency service.

Continue reading 3 ways to remember your medication

Effectiveness of medication reminders

There has been quite a few studies showing how effective medication reminders are when it comes to improving adherence. “The effectiveness of interventions using electronic reminders to improve adherence to chronic medication: a systematic review of the literature“, is one of those articles that provides a nice review of the literature. The article was published in September 2012 and appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

The authors have selected 13 relevant studies from the literature and reported the details on the effectiveness of reminders to improve adherence. The full article is available here for free.

Continue reading Effectiveness of medication reminders

Happy to see that Memo24 is actually helping people :)

I came across this post today on thecaregiverspace.org website. I am really happy to see that Memo24 is actually helping people to lift some of the burden and worry in their day to day life. It is the story of David and his wife who were looking for a simple solution that will help his father-in-law, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease in its early stage, remember to take his daily pills. The problem is that David and his wife live a few hundred miles away from him, and it is difficult for them to check up on him all the time. Memo24 turned out to be a good solution to their problem. I asked David (who of course agreed on me posting this blog), how he is using the solution on a daily basis. And as it turned out, not only David is setting voice call medication reminders for his father-in-law, but also other types of reminders such as his doctor appointments, some of his important events, and even reminding him about watching that upcoming amazing TV documentary :). David has been using Memo24 for several months now, and according to him reminding his father-in-law by simply calling him on his home telephone and playing a message turned out to be quite an effective way to keep his medication compliance at a good level. I wish all the best for David, his wife, and of course his father-in-law for whom medication adherence is very important to keep healthy and fully enjoy life.