To raise hope in response to World Alzheimer’s Day, we have gathered some amazing and inspiring examples of the innovations made just this year alone to help improve the quality of life for those with Alzheimer’s.
1. Memesto – Music therapy device helps Alzheimer’s patients.
Reported through a local news station in the USA, Memesto was created by Zach Gordon, a nurse in Berrien Springs, Michigan and is simple in concept, but seemingly powerful in its effects.
The device plays songs to the user from a period before they developed the later stages of Alzheimer’s. Users have stated that the music is highly effective in calming those with Alzheimer’s and is even said to reduce over-all anxieties.
To also try and help with associating and recognising loved ones, the device plays short messages from friends and family in-between songs. There has been no clear correlation as to what causes the calming effect and as to whether the music is more effective with or without the voices of loved ones interjecting, but the trial users seemed much happier with the device according to their families.
2. Timeless – An App Developed By A 14 Year-Old!
A 14-Year-Old has created an app called Timeless that aims to Help those with Alzheimer’s to more easily recognise their loved ones. Inspired at a young age by her Grandmother, who had Alzheimer’s, Emma Yang wants to help as many people all around the world to simply recognise the most important people in their lives.
The app uses the combination of an AI and facial recognition software to offer the user a helping hand. The app allows users to view photos of their loved ones and will give them information on who they are and what relation they have to the user. Using facial recognition, the user can take a photograph of a loved one in person and the app will automatically recognise them and inform the user of their name and relation etc.
(The app is not currently available on the market yet as Yang is currently looking for funding through online crowd-funding site Indiegogo).
3. Animal robots comfort dementia patients?
Whist this may seem like a ludicrous idea, the concept comes as a result from the University of Plymouth. The PhD student, Hannah Bradwell, wanted to encourage the same results from those with Alzheimer’s and Dementia had when interacting with real animals, but with robots from Japan. The animal-like robots were not intended to fool those in Hanna’s study, but rather to comfort them in the same way a real animal would, without the risks of allergies, hygiene or scratching/biting.
The issue with the robots, and the reason for Hanna’s study, is that they cost far too much for individuals/Carers to even consider buying. With the most interactive, but also most expensive, robot costing £5,000, Hanna is hoping to better understand how much interactivity is required from the robot to better comfort the user.
Hanna’s end-goal is to try to develop a more affordable equivalent to these robots specifically designed to comfort those with Alzheimer’s/Dementia.
4. Jelly Drops – Jelly treats for people with dementia.
A Gentleman by the name of Lewis Hornby has developed a new product called “Jelly Drops”. More than just a treat, the product is a solution to the ever-present issue of keeping those with Alzheimer’s/Dementia hydrated.
Hornby said that he was inspired by his own Grandmother who fell ill from dehydration. Spotting that this was a common issue for those with Alzheimer’s/Dementia, he sought out a solution that was appealing and kept people hydrated. He claims that the first time he brought them to his Grandmother she ate the equivalent to one glass of water.
Hornby needed the product to be appealing to encourage consumption. He said that the product being brightly coloured and in a box was instinctively appealing to those with Alzheimer’s/Dementia. The Jelly Drops are solid, which Hornby says he found to be easier for those with Alzheimer’s/Dementia to comprehend, can be held without leaving any sticky/greasy residue and are over 90% water with extra ingredients that make them more hydrating than drinking that volume alone.
5. I Smile For Grandpa: A loving story about dementia disease for young children.
Although not a product strictly for those with Alzheimer’s, “I Smile For Grandpa” is a children’s storybook written by registered social worker and dementia care expert, Jaclyn Guenette and edited and illustrated by award-winning author & illustrator, Kathryn Harrison.
As beautifully illustrated and heart-warming as this book is, it’s incredibly delicate and yet honest exploration into the effects and implications of dementia, all from the perspective of a child, creates an innovative, necessary and simple way for children to understand what may be happening to their own family member in real life.
The overall concept of the story is that the young boy wants to play football with his grandfather but has to find other fun activities for them instead as his grandfather becomes confused quite quickly. Teaching children what dementia is in a real life scenario shows them how to interact with and adapt to those who have it in their own lives.
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