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Overcoming everyday problems with Alzheimer's and dementia through technology


Project researches technical solutions to support dementia patients
The number of dementia patients is growing rapidly and the development of effective treatment methods is progressing, but a cure cannot be achieved for the time being. Therefore, in the short term, the main question is how the everyday problems of those affected can be minimized. Technical innovations offer promising potential here. In the project. MEMENTO is dedicated to researchers looking for technical solutions for dealing with forgetfulness in everyday life.

Scientists from the Medical University of Vienna (MedUni Vienna) are involved in the European research project MEMENTO (Memory and Moments collected). The aim of the project is to develop technical solutions that should make it easier to deal with forgetfulness in everyday life. For this purpose, a program is being developed in which personal pictures, videos and notes can be collected. Subsequently, an intelligent processing of the data takes place in a so-called cloud (online data storage) so that it subsequently serves as a reminder, reports MedUni Vienna.

Rising number of dementias
The term dementia is used to summarize a group of clinical pictures "which impair cognitive functions such as memory, language, orientation, comprehension and judgment," explains the experts at MedUni Vienna. The illnesses can be determined especially at an older age and “have become an important social and health policy issue due to demographic developments.” According to the MedUni Vienna, around 130,000 people currently live in Austria with a form of dementia, the number according to expert estimates up to Year 2050 will double. Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia with up to 80 percent of cases.

Dementia causes far-reaching everyday problems
The dementia diseases lead to considerable impairments in everyday life such as the organization of the household, the handling of financial matters or the attendance of doctor's appointments, which often leads to an additional deterioration in mood, a change in social behavior and impaired motivation, reports the MedUni Vienna. This is where the MEMENTO project comes in, which is carried out jointly by eight research centers in Austria, Italy and Spain.

Provide a feeling of security
"The MEMENTO program should be able to remind patients with mild dementia of daily events, situations and places, and to help them keep new information," reports Elisabeth Stögmann from the University Clinic for Neurology at the MedUni Vienna. The technical solution should give people with dementia a feeling of security and create a familiar environment, Stögmann continues. The program will consist of three components with which personal pictures, videos and notes can be collected. The information is then intelligently processed in a cloud so that the data can be used as a reminder.

Helpful short-term reminder
The short-term reminder could be particularly helpful for those affected because, according to Elisabeth Stögmann, most people with dementia are better able to recall earlier moments than recent events. "It is possible that they remember a large number of facts or experiences, but are very forgetful about current things - such as recent events or things just discussed," continued Stögmann. As a result, people with dementia often find it difficult to remember what happened a few minutes or hours ago, but on the other hand, they can comparatively well remember events that happened when they were much younger.

In the research project, "the technical implementation is accompanied by potential users right from the start," adds Sten Hanke from the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH. Overall, a broad interdisciplinary team of experts from different specialist areas is involved in the project. In addition to scientists from the medical field at MedUni Vienna, the university clinic in Perugia and a care facility in Spain, researchers from the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH and design specialists from the BKM Design Studio are also represented. The industrial partners VirtualWare, WeTouch, Integris and Citard Services are focused on the fact that the developed solution can also be brought to the market, according to MedUni Vienna.

According to the MedUni, the project is funded by the "Active and Assisted Living (AAL)" program, which supports projects that develop information and communication technology in order to improve the quality of life for older people. The AAL program is funding the development and testing of the solution in three European countries for the next three years with two million euros. National funding from the “FFG benefit program” is also planned for the MEMENTO project. (fp)

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Video: Difference Between Alzheimers and Dementia (June 2021).