Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Computer Assisted Interactive Reminiscence Assistance Software for Alzheimer’s

My Life Software has developed an innovative software solution that provides communication, education and interactivity for older people, people with dementia and Alzheimer’s, people with learning difficulties and people with brain injuries.

Designed by caregivers for caregivers, the product emanates from meticulous research and field testing involving frontline care workers, patients and family members – helping the family and the support groups to provide a person-centered assistance to support the patient.

The software includes a variety of therapeutic tools for reminiscence and digital life story books to aid in memory-related activities, with the additional value of gaining mood and wellbeing outcomes automatically as the system is being used.

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The program was designed to support conversations, interaction and engagement between people with dementia and caregivers, friends and family. The computer system contains a huge range of photographs, video clips, music and lyrics dating back to the 1930's. This material was specifically chosen to spark recollections that can form the basis of conversations and promote well-being. Content can be regionally selected to target the audience even more specifically. Memories and stories from the past can be evoked so that people can share in one-on-one or group discussions.

The concept of the system and its therapy is to reduce the intake of so many sedative-type drugs, as confirmed by Professor David Jolley of the University of Manchester: "Therapy of this nature is powerful and effective for the person with memory problems and for their caring family. Such therapies will surely be available on prescription in the near future. This will reduce the use of tranquilizers, avoiding their side effects and costs."

Since the original field testing was carried out, the developing and refining process has continued due to the help and feedback from healthcare workers and their suggestions. My Life Software is also building a user community through social networking, such as Facebook.

In all cases results have been outstanding, proving our Digital Reminiscence Therapy Software allows effective engagement, communication, and interaction with individuals who have a diagnosis of dementia.

These evaluations have shown how quickly the software can be understood by people with dementia and other cognitive impairments, as well as families and care staff. The database of media content makes it easy for caregivers to offer people a choice of what they would like to look at or listen to. People with cognitive impairments can easily make choices too, by simply touching the screen. These evaluations have shown how the software stimulates people with dementia to start lively discussions, debates, and telling of anecdotes of long-forgotten tales, with many occasions where people with dementia educated their caregivers and family members about events from the past.

Personal media items can also be uploaded, allowing families, caregiver’s and people with dementia to view images from the past or other relevant images. This ensures everyone can have a meaningful and personal experience.

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The program is loaded with over 1000 regional photographs, dating back to 1868, of towns and villages across Britain and the Republic of Ireland, from Jersey to the top of Scotland. More images can be added through simple software updates, so people with dementia can always have an extensive range of reminiscence experiences.

Pieces of media which prove to be particularly good at encouraging communication and facilitating well-being can be saved to a ‘favorites’ list specific to each person’s profile. Alternatively, those which are disliked never need to be seen again, through using the ‘don’t show again’ button.

If a small aspect of a picture or film is particularly relevant, a ‘zoom’ feature can allow for this part of the image to be increased in size, focusing attention on it and allowing caregiver’s to tailor media to each individual’s personal preferences.

For families of people with dementia and care staff, it is an easy-to-use activity, providing a great way to communicate and pass the time, in both group discussions and one-to-one sessions. It requires no preparation and the ability to randomize content provides different permutations of material each time. The ‘favorites’ in each profile, and the regional list, allows caregiver’s to bring up particularly relevant material for every person with dementia and tailor the program specifically for them. The wide range of media opens up a whole world of content and the potential to have a different reminiscence experience every time it is used.

For people with dementia, it is a program that encourages cognitive function and promotes well-being, opening the door for a great range of meaningful communications and reminiscence experiences with other people.

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