Digital Assistance System offers aid for dementia patients

2012-08-20:

Salzburg Research launches 2.8 million EURO research project
Ageing in our society results in an increasing number of people suffering from dementia. Coping with everyday life and living independently as the illness progresses becomes increasingly more difficult for sufferers. A 2.8-million Euro research project headed by ‘Salzburg Research’, an Austrian research company, is working on a support system that will help people suffering from dementia to be able to live actively and self-determined at home for longer in future.

As life expectancy increases, so does the risk of developing dementia. It is currently estimated that in Austria around 126,000 people suffer from dementia and in Europe 7.3 million. At the beginning the illness often progresses slowly. Those affected often feel unsure in their daily routine, are fearful as a result of the increasing sense of disorientation and consequently will gradually lose their independence and mobility. Common routes and tasks such as shopping, housekeeping or simply taking a walk become a daily challenge. “This not only poses problems for those concerned; the situation can also become very challenging for their families. This is where information technology can provide support and assistance”, DI (FH) Mag. Cornelia Schneider, Head of Project and Coordinator of the 2.8-million EU project, explains.

EU project supports dementia sufferers and their families

What type of support this can actually be is shown in the recently launched European research project headed by the Austrian research company, Salzburg Research. Also on board are nine high-calibre profile partners from Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Romania – such as Hilfswerk Salzburg, Swisscom Participations, ilogs mobile software or the dementia researchers from the Ana Aslan International Foundation. “The aim is to make a support service available for available for sufferers and their families a support service to ensure mobility that people suffering from dementia will remain mobile and active as long as possible”,, according to Schneider. What is remarkable is: at the end of the 3-year project, the service developed and tested provides support when out and about to ensure a safe arrival at a destination and subsequently a safe return, in a combination of personal assistance with supporting technologies.

Mobility safeguarding assistance service support system with numerous functions

The functions of the support service for dementia patients at mild to moderate stage will be numerous: “The system will, for example, begin support at home with a prompt to switch off appliances when leaving, giving tips on appropriate clothing for the weather and providing information on the route to imminent appointments”, Cornelia Schneider reports.

System users with orientation problems can call up information on their current location and navigation aid at any time using the service on a mobile phone. When the service is activated a care giver is called and the user can speak directly to the person concerned and receive information. In this way it is possible for family, volunteers (carers, neighbours, etc.) and mobile home carers to offer help, using different channels (language, video and location monitoring).

Besides the spoken interaction with a person of their confidence it is often an advantage, depending on the situation, if this person can see the local conditions in order to provide adequate support. This is possible via a video channel. To support patients in the orientation of their surroundings, people can be electronically located via the system. The actual location and the routes taken are displayed on an electronic map so that directions can be given.

Figures, Data, Facts on Research Project ‘Confidence’

The European research project ‘Confidence’ is subsidized by the EU and the BMVIT (the Federal Department of Transport, Innovation and Technology) under the Ambient Assisted Living Joint Programme. A budget of 530,000 Euro is at the disposal of Salzburg Research as coordinator.

In addition to Project Coordinator Salzburg Research, the partners are iHomeLab, Raiffeisenlandesbank Kärnten Rechenzentrum and Revisionsverband, reg. Gen.m.b.H., ilogs mobile software GmbH, Presence displays bv., Ralph Eichenberg Szenografie, Cinematografie, Fotografie, Hilfswerk Salzburg, terzStiftung, Ana Aslan International Foundation and Swisscom Participations Ltd.