Helping people with mild dementia to navigate their day


Which one of our four interest areas do you think is the most important to improve the life of a person suffering dementia?
Help he/she to remember
Help on maintaining social contacts
Help on performing daily life activities
Enhance their feeling of safety
Total votes: 73



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Embracing the Challenge: Citizenship & Dementia

Embracing the Challenge: Citizenship & Dementia

6th - 8th May 2008 - Stormont Hotel, Belfast


Citizenship is the theme for the 1st International Conference to recognise the contribution people with dementia make to society and the challenges confronting services in responding to the needs of people with dementia and their carers. This conference will bring together expertise, opinion and debate from many parts of the world, including the USA, Canada, Australia, Germany, Greece, the UK and Republic of Ireland.

Programme available here

AAL Congress - 1 February 2008

The Ambient Assisted Living EU Congress took place today in Berlin. Among the speakers were Dr Gerhard Finking, Head of Department at the German Ministry for Education and Research and Dr Paul Timmers, Head of Unit - ICT for Inclusion, European Commission.

Wolfgang Gessner, the Head of Department Innovation Europe from VDI/VDE-IT explained the rationale behind AALIANCE while Michael Huch also from VDI/VDE-IT did a great job in managing all of the speakers.

The key issues discussed across the Congress were:

    * How to integrate users;
    * Key requirements to validate technology and service innovations;
    * Creating products and services for the market; and
    * What kind of business models and concepts are now required

Over 200 people attended the event. And of course, the COGKNOW project was presented by Ferial Moelaert El-Hadidy, Telematica Institute, The Netherlands.

Spanish scientists develop a tomographic camera that will allow to anticipate five years Alzheimer diagnose

Scientists of the Corpuscular Physics Institute (CSIC-UV) of Valencia are developing a tomographic camera by positrons emission that will allow detecting “with the maximum resolution and sensitivity” Alzheimer’s disease five years before than any other currently known method.

The project of this camera, “Neuro PET”, which is used only in the brain, with a budget of about 300,000 euros, has been approved by the Ministry of Culture last December and has a period of implementation of three years.


José María Benlloch, main researcher of this project, has informed about the details of it and has specified that “in Spain, there are more than 600,000 persons diagnosed with Alzheimer, according to the data supplied by the Spanish Confederation of Carers and Relatives of Alzheimer and other dementia Patients”.

Benlloch has pointed that, at the moment, PET cameras are essentially used for cancer detection. “It is - he has pointed out - about whole body devices, which do not allow getting results as much exact and accurate as the ones that would be obtained with a head specific PET”, such in the one these investigators are working on.

This neuro-PET camera will help to improve and put forward the Alzheimer’s diagnosis, what will work in a more effective treatment for the patient.

A PET scan can detect mild physiological changes in the brain even when no signs or symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are evident and before severe damage to brain cells and memory loss occur. PET scanning may help scientists to better understand the progression of Alzheimer and it can also be a valuable tool in differentiating this disease from other types of dementia disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease.

tomographic imageIn this project collaborate the Corpuscular Physics Institute - mixed centre of CSIC (Scientifics Investigations Superior Council) and the University of Valencia - as well as the ITACA (Information and Technologies Applications and Advanced Communications) department of the Polytechnic University of Valencia.

The main investigator has marked that the Alzheimer affects today approximately 25 million of persons all over the world and, in the next 20 years, 70 million of new cases are expected to be registered.

As far as he is concerned, the professor of the Polytechnic University of Valencia, Ángel Sebastiá, has explained that “the camera is based in an innovative gamma rays sensor, which will improve the space resolution and will increase the sensitivity of detection an illness - it will help to locate and diagnose it earlier -, with an effectiveness higher than 90 percent, by means of new detection techniques”.

“The high sensitivity will involve besides a decrease in a factor 10 the possible negative effect of the radiation to the patient”, he said. “The fact that it has higher sensitivity in detection allows getting greater data rates with smaller doses of radiation to the patient”, Ángel Sebastiá added.

“Likewise, among the camera advantages, it amounts a drastic cost reduction with regard to the current whole body PET devices, whose price fluctuate between 1.8 and 2.5 millions of euros” he pointed.

The sensor will be developed at the IFIC laboratories. Meanwhile, ITACA researchers, under the coordination of the Sebastiá professor, will be in charge of implementing the electronics that allows to obtain the maximum sensor features.

“The best way of generating nowadays the nervous tissue injured by the Alzheimer is early diagnosis of the illness and setting an effective treatment”, professor Sebastiá indicated.

In the project, funding by the Ministry of Education and Science, also take part in the Valencian Institute of Oncology (IVO) and the enterprise Oncovision.



The IAHSA 8th International Conference - Leadership Beyond Borders

The IAHSA 8th International Conference - Leadership Beyond Borders
20-22 July 2009, London, England

IAHSA's 2009 International Conferences will be the premier international event where leaders and leadership teams from our Global Ageing Network gather for three days of networking and shared learning.

The Conference theme — Leadership Beyond Borders — provides an excellent opportunity to showcase the most innovative programmes from around the globe, along with an exciting forum for the exchange of both practical knowledge and new strategies focused on the provision of care and services to older adults.

Important Dates

  • 1 May 2008: Proposal Submission Deadline
  • 1 October 2008: Notification of Decision
  • 1 June 2009: Presenter Registration Deadline

IAHSA encourages colleagues from all corners of the globe to submit proposals for consideration in our conference programme. Accepted proposals will also be eligible for consideration for the 2008-2009 IAHSA Excellence in Ageing Services Awards.

All prospective proposal submitters are welcome to visit the IAHSA Website to learn more about our association, the IAHSA Eighth International Conference Sessions, and the IAHSA Excellence in Ageing Services Award.

SenseCam, a camera to help remembering your life

SenseCam is a wearable digital camera developed by Microsoft Research that is designed to take photographs passively, without user intervention, while it is being worn. It is fitted with a wide-angle (fish-eye) lens that maximizes its field-of-view. This ensures that nearly everything in the wearer’s view is captured by the camera

SenseCamIn around 2005 Microsoft started a trial with a 63-year-old patient from the Memory Clinic and Memory Aids Clinic at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge (United Kingdom), with amnesia resulting from a brain infection.

After wearing SenseCam for the duration of a ‘significant event’, Mrs. B, the patient, would spend around one hour reviewing the images every two days, for a two-week period.

Without any aids to recall, Mrs. B typically can only recall around 2 percent of events that happened the previous week, and she often forgets who people are. However, during the course of this period of assisted recall using SenseCam, Mrs. B’s memory dramatically improved, and after two weeks she could recall around 80 percent of the event in question. She could remember most nontrivial events after she had spent around one hour reviewing the SenseCam images.

“After an initial period of consolidation, SenseCam appears to lead to long-term retention of memories over many months”, says Emma Berry, a neuropsychologist who works as a consultant to Microsoft.

Besides this, the technology has been engineered so a whole day’s imagesSenseCam2 can be reviewed at high speed, with a day’s events condensed into a few minutes’ short movie. That not only helps users to remember events which would otherwise be lost from their minds, but also to re-experience the emotions attached to events and conversations. “Key to the effect the camera’s films have had on patients so far is the fact that is not only about pictures (…). It recovers memories of events, and also feelings and details not captured by the lens and displayed on the screen”, says Dr. Moulin, a neuropsychologist of Leeds University, Yorkshire (United Kingdom).

On the other hand and more recently, scientists in Cambridge have done trials with the SenseCam as an aid to memory for people suffering memory impairment through a variety of neurological conditions. In tests done by Addenbrooke’s Hospital, among 20 people suffering conditions including Alzheimer’s, researchers say results were not just encouraging but spectacular, with patients experiencing markedly improved memory.

“Many people with memory problems find aids such as diaries can offer psychological benefits. This new camera could potentially act in the same way (…). Assistive technology is an exciting area of research”, Alzheimer’s Society comments in their website. Nevertheless, Alzheimer’s sufferers will have to wait some time until this device goes out to the market since Microsoft says wider research and development are needed before the company can make any decision to commercialise the camera.

Information extracted from:


Less Risk of Alzheimer with Education and Leisure Activities

An investigation of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (USA) reveals that the persons with a high level of studies are not exempt from the Alzheimer.  Nevertheless, the symptoms of the disease take more time to appear, but when they do it, their progress is faster than in persons less educated.

Education“When memory begins to be lost, the cognitive deterioration progresses quickly and reaches a point in which it is the same than in persons less educated”, Charles Hall, expert in biostatistics and principal author of the study, says. Therefore, somebody with 16 years of studies could experience a decrease of the memory a 50% faster than one with only 4 years.

From the 488 elderly persons who were object of the investigation, 117 developed the typical dementia of the neurological illness. The level of studies varied from less than three years of basic education to university career. The research showed that per each year of official education, the Alzheimer symptoms were delayed an average of 2.5 months. However, after the first symptoms appear, the more educated individuals experience a 4% faster intellectual deterioration by each additional year of education.

There are numerous reports which show that a high level of education is protective factor. It is demonstrated that there are complex environmental stimulus that increase neurons growth and brain weight. Moreover, the education also provides resources and strategies to solve problems and reduces the risk of dementia.

In this way, COGKNOW system can help persons who suffer dementia since they will come into contact with new technologies and, hence, their level of education will also grow.

On the other hand, researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Syracuse University conducted a study, which follows a large group of people between the ages of 75 and 85 over a period of time of 3 years, to examine whether participation by elders in leisure activities could reduce risk of dementia.

Physical_ActivityThe subjects participated in 6 cognitive activities (reading books or newspapers, writing for pleasure, doing crossword puzzles, playing board games or cards, participating in organized group discussions and playing musical instruments) and 11 physical activities (playing tennis or golf, swimming, bicycling, dancing, group exercises, team games such as bowling, walking for exercise, doing housework and babysitting).

Dementia developed in 124 subjects and among cognitive activities, playing board games, reading, playing a musical instrument, and doing crossword puzzles were associated with a significantly reduced risk of dementia. Dancing was the only physical activity associated with a significantly lowered risk of dementia.

This latest study adds strength to the view that participation in leisure activities is associated with lower risk of dementia. While elders who are in the early stages of dementia tend to participate less in leisure activities, studies like this one suggest that the reverse may be true: the more an elder participates in leisure activities, the less likely it is that he or she will get dementia in the first place. Contributing to this, COGKNOW has developed both cognitive activities such as listening to music, playing games or even participating in organized group discussions, and ways of help Alzheimer people carrying out physical activities. So patients have a solution which helps them to do a crossword puzzle, read a book, talk with their friends and relatives, or supports them when they go for a walk, activities that are good for the body, soul and mind.

Information extracted from:

Alzheimer and Diabetes

There are more and more researches that point out that diabetes increases the risk of developing the Alzheimer disease. “The relation between Alzheimer and diabetes has very important implications for public health”, Ronald Petersen, vice-president of the Alzheimer Association scientific and medical council, has explained.Medication

Among the different researches about the matter, an investigation of the Karolinska Institute and the Gerontological Investigation Centre of Stockholm stands out, which have demonstrated the association between dementia and diabetes. During nine years, the researchers followed 1,173 persons elder than 75 years. Pre-diabetes was diagnosed to 47 of them. Approximately a third of the sample (397) developed dementia during the follow-up; 307 cases were Alzheimer.

On the other hand, in the Rush University Medical Centre in Chicago, a research, coordinated by the Alzheimer Disease Centre, was made in different religious orders. 824 members of religious orders, who were submitted to clinical studies and evaluative tests of the psico-cognitive functionality, participated for more than nine years of follow-up.

During a period of 5.5 years, 127 developed diabetes (15.4%) and 151 had a clinical diagnostic of Alzheimer. In a model fitted by age, sex and educational level, diabetic patients had a 65% of suffering from Alzheimer versus the no-diabetic ones.

 “This is one of the first studies in the short term that gives a follow-up to people who begin without evidences of suffering Alzheimer, and tracks how the diabetic patient increases his/her risk of developing it”, said William Thies, vice-president of the Alzheimer Association medical and scientific office. “It is a powerful argument so that persons do everything they can to control their blood-sugar level”.

DrugsBesides this, at North-western University, scientists have discovered why brain insulin signalling, crucial for memory formation, would stop working in Alzheimer's disease.  The question now is how that process gets initiated.

The studies have also shown that Alzheimer could be a “type3” of diabetes and according to William L. Klein, professor of neurobiology and physiology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, a proper research and development of the type 2 diabetes drugs could allow develop new drugs for the Alzheimer disease.

Information extracted from:


Mediterranean Diet and Alzheimer

Mediterranean diet could help people who suffer from Alzheimer disease to enlarge their life expectancy, according to a research carried out by the University of Columbia Medical Centre in New York (United States) which is published in ‘Neurology’ magazine.Mediterranean diet

In the research 192 patients with this neurodegenerative illness participate, who were observed for an average of four years and a half, period during which 85 of them died. The researchers found out that those patients who follow more faithfully a Mediterranean diet, were 76 per cent less prone to die during the research period.

Mediterranean diet include a high consumption of vegetables, fruit, cereal, fish and mono-unsaturated fatty acids, and a low consumption of saturated fatty acids, milk products, meat and poultry, besides a low to moderate alcohol consumption.

According to Nikos Scarmeas explains, main research author, “The more the patients follow the Mediterranean diet, the most they reduced their mortality”. As an example, Scarmeas show that the Alzheimer patients who adhered to the diet in a moderate level, lived an average of 1.3 years more than those who less followed these dietetic habits. “Patients that followed the diet more faithfully, lived an average of four years more”, the author adds.

Elderly dietPrevious  researches from the same investigation team, have demonstrated that healthy persons who follow a Mediterranean diet decrease the risk of developing the Alzheimer disease. These investigations also show that healthy persons who follow this kind of diet, live more than those who have a western typical diet, high in saturated fats and meat and short of fruits and vegetables.

The researcher points out that new data about the benefits of this diet are appearing. “We need to carry out more investigations to determine if consuming Mediterranean diet also helps Alzheimer patients to reduce cognitive decline, keeping their daily ability and getting a better quality of life”, Scarmeas explains.

Information extracted from:

State of the art of services regarding dementia care

In order to determine the future COGKNOW situation inside the market, COGKNOW partners made an analysis of current services. There were services with similar characteristics to COGKNOW, more than a half of the analyzed services do not exceed 40% affinity with COGKNOW. But none of them fulfils all the functionalities of COGKNOW in an unique system. According to our measure scale the most similar services would be:

Nowadays, the most developed field is location. Any patient with mild dementia can suffer disorientation and cannot be able of situating in his/her own environment. Decorated wallA location service can be the necessary help to return to the normality. There are different versions of this service in the market: from those devices that make phone calls to those ones with GPS. COGKNOW goes further over including a location service with detailed information, both outward and home inside. When that information is necessary, it can be sent to the carers who decide if the patient is in danger. This aspect makes COGKNOW not as restrictive as other existing services, which delimit a specific security area and whenever patients leave it they are considered to be in danger.

As it is known, Alzheimer is characterized by a progressive and irreversible damage of the brain functions, memory among them. Patients who suffer mild Alzheimer, sometimes, are not been able of reminding activities they had planned or how to carry out the daily tasks. COGKNOW provides a reminder service that will help these people enhancing their memory. While other currently available services exclusively notify and/or remind patients the events and activities they should do, COGKNOW besides interacts with the person. COGKNOW system allows the patient to reject or not the proposed activity, as well as personalize it by choosing among some options the one that appeals more to him/her at this moment. For example, if it is a patient’s relative birthday, COGKNOW will notify him/her about it and will give the option of phoning him or not.

Old person being huggedOn the other hand, although patients are affected by this ailment, carers and relatives also worry and attempt to get an environment as much favourable as possible for them. So, knowing these preferences, safety is a very valued and requested aspect by Alzheimer sufferers’ relatives. Over the last few decades, detection devices and alarm systems for health problems and safety have been developed for different diagnostic groups. On COGKNOW side, with a minimum intrusion of the person environment, it offers a set of services specially designed to guarantee and increase the security for both patients and their carers and relatives.

Among other exclusive characteristics COGKNOW has, the fact that Alzheimer sufferers can make their own decisions is a great innovation in the field of help systems to patients who suffer this disease. In that way, COGKNOW contributes to keep their independence when they have to do the daily activities life, which, as studies made by experts have disclosed, is an aspect that improves the well-being and boost the self-esteem of these people. All this, combined with the use of the latest technologies and the specific design of the services provided, turns COGKNOW into a great value system which, not only helps people with dementia to face up to their main needs, but also makes possible they lead a normal life daily

Current products for dealing with alzheimer and other dementia ailments

Nowadays there is a wide range of associations and companies along the EU that are offering some kind of support for the Alzheimer sufferers and their carers. Most of them are informational websites that offers helpful information for carers, but seem less attuned to the person with dementia and do not offer personalized information. As far as COGKNOW is concerned, its solutions aimed at compensating for disabilities, demonstrate that people with mild to moderate dementia are capable of handling simple electronic equipment and can benefit from it.

Old man looking through a window

In the current market, there are hardly companies that provide a similar service to the one of COGKNOW and also have all the necessary devices to cover the service. In that way and, although there are some projects with similar characteristics to COGKNOW, as for example the “TunstallTown”, these projects are focused on the general public and not on an specific group as Alzheimer people are.

Other projects, as “ENABLE”, provides devices of similar intention than those of COGKNOW, but they do not allow patients’ participation, limiting in this way their feeing of independency, which is a highly valued aspect by people who suffer this disease.

People with dementia have many needs during the progression of their disease, varying from memory support in mild dementia to support in almost all aspects of daily functioning in severe dementia. In order to be able to provide the most suitable solutions for these needs, COGKNOW has developed a set of devices capable to cover all the functionalities and characteristics its system offers, since there were no device in the market capable to satisfy all of them. COGKNOW is developing an integrated assistive device providing effective solutions for many top needs of persons with mild dementia. The services are adapted to the current situation and delivered on a stationary touch screen and a mobile device with very easy-to-use interfaces. Services are user-selectable and adaptable to the specific needs and abilities of the user.


Image of COGKNOW mobile deviceAs we have already said, memory support is one of the main needs of people with dementia. In the market there are several products, such as pill-dispensers, forget-me-not calendars or locators for lost objects, designed to help Alzheimer people in this matter. However, patients should have all of them to cover their needs and this can be a mess for them. COGKNOW system, by using the two devices mentioned previously (the mobile device and the fixed one), can do all these tasks and the patient would only carry one device.

Although supporting for memory could be the principal need for patients, their relatives and carers are also worried about their security. In this way, some manufacturers, such as Tunstall, have developed a set of sensors and devices that can be used to improve Alzheimer patients’ security. However, some of these systems are considered excessively invasive by the patients. COGKNOW, through the person’s participation, achieves its devices improve Alzheimer sufferers feeling of independence and, therefore, their well-being.

Other highly valued devices, not only by patients but also by carers and relatives, are those location and help devices when the person with dementia is lost. We can find products such as Sazo GPS or Flextrack’s Lommy, which have been developed in that way. COGKNOW, besides locate the person when he/she is lost, offers the possibility of showing the way to return home or even of calling for help. So, with COGKNOW, the Alzheimer patient not only can feel safe inside home, but also outside.

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COGKNOW is funded by the European Comission within the IST-2005/2006-2.5.11 (Unit H3 - eInclusion) Contract #034025

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