Sunday, 12 February 2017
Academics turn to robots to solve aged care dilemma
Remember the Jetsons with their robotic maid?
But how many of us actually thought we’d ever end up with a robotic helper of our own?
It could be a reality sooner than we think, but instead of helping us around the home, robots could find their home in a much more socially responsible role.
We’ve all heard about fears of a future shortage of aged care workers and a big increase in demand for aged care facilities and services, and now academics think they might have the answer.
According to reports in the BBC, a group of academics believe that robots could be the answer to the crisis facing the future of caring for the elderly.
That’s right, researchers from two British universities are working on a multi-million dollar project to develop robots that could help look after us when we get older.
The robots, named Pepper Robots by the researchers from Middlesex University and the University of Bedfordshire, could help with everyday tasks from helping you take your tablets to offering companionship.
While it’s hard to imagine having a social interaction with a robot, it could very well be a reality for aged care facilities that are struggling to maintain their staff to resident ratios.
Professor Irena Papadopoulos told the BBC that the robots wouldn’t be replacing nurses or aged care workers, they’d simply support them provide care.
“As people live longer, health systems are put under
increasing pressure,” she said.
“Assistive, intelligent robots for older people could relieve pressures in hospitals and care homes as well as improving care delivery at home and promoting independent living for the elderly.”
And the robots could expand beyond just caring for residents in nursing homes.
The researchers are hoping that robots could also become acceptable to help care for people in their own homes, keeping them in their own home for longer and reducing the demand for nursing homes and aged care.
So, just how smart are these robots?
Well, the Pepper Robots will apparently be able to speak and move hand gestures.
They’ll also be able to move around without any assistance and they’ll even be smart enough to identify when the person they’re caring for is unwell or in pain.
While some of you probably doubt you’ll ever see this technology, it’s well and truly on its way.
Robots like the Pepper Robots are already helping people in their homes and in hospitals in Japan, and they could be just three years away from being used in the UK.
While the technology has the researchers excited, it’s sure to bring up questions for many older people who are suspicious or doubtful about technology.
It raises the ultimate question, would you trust a robot to look after you or your elderly parents?
What do you think about this?
I was told two weeks ago, that a new dementia Working group is being set up, and I had been invited to get involved with it
The members were drawn from England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
It's been a while since I did anything on this front, due to the fact we were unsure about my diagnosis of Lewy Body Dementia, and my recurring chest problems, which have made things so much worse too. While the LBD diagnosis has been sorted out, my chest problems are still going on.
However the thought of doing something positive, to get others with dementia involved, spurred me into action.
Scotland has had its own Dementia Working group for quite a few years, but the original English working group was restricted in what it was allowed to do
So this is a new start, with a new working group and new participants.
However travelling to London these days is becoming quite expensive if you are unable to book in advance, even with a disabled rail card, which seems to have little effect on the ticket prices now.
Because this was going to be a very early start in London, we decided to go down the day before and stay over for the night, because I struggle with early mornings, and the thought of trying to think clearly in a meeting after a very early start, does not appeal.
In all honestly I would have needed to get up at around 4-30, to get myself ready, and then wait for a service bus to Durham, in order to get the 6-30 train from Durham into London
The meeting was being held at the Alzheimer's Societies new office in Crutched Friars in London, but as we had not been to this office before, I had no idea where I was going.
However we found that we had stayed in the same hotel as others, so it was easier to find out where we were going.
When we got to the meeting we found that we were with some old friends, and one or two new people, who I had heard of but never met before.
The meeting was facilitated by Matt Murray Engagement and Participation Manager, and an Alzheimer's Society Director Brett Terry.
The idea of this meeting is to give people with dementia a voice in these three Countries.
Although this was a group of people with the various types of dementia at the event, we hope to encourage others with the illness, to step up and get involved.
Many regions were represented
Chris Roberts, North Wales, Linda Willis, and South Wales.
Danny Brown & Liz Cunningham, Northern Ireland.
Ken Clasper, North East England. Joy Watson, North West England.
Wendy Mitchell, Yorkshire and Humberside
Shelagh Robinson, West Midlands. Alex Preston, East Midlands
Peter White, East England. Hilary Doxford, South West England
Keith Oliver, South East England. Dianne Campbell, London
It is hoped that we can encourage new members to come forward and take over from us, when our terms of office are over. This can be one, or two years which ever is the best for those taking part
But anyone who is interested can contact there nearest named contact, and put their names forward
It must be remembered that this is a group of interesting people, who want to help others, and they are all very friendly to be with
If anyone in the North East of England would like to get involved, I would love to hear from them and, I will gladly go to any groups in this area to talk about the Working group.
This Working Group is not restricted to Alzheimer's Society groups, but also open to independent groups wanting more information.
I am struggling with my healtlh these days, but I got involved in the hope that sooner or later someone else from the North East will step up and get more involved
This is a wonderful opportunity and a chance to speak up for everyone with the illness, while getting together and meeting new friends from around the UK.
So why not contact me if you live in this area.
I look forward to hearing from people, from the Northumberland and Durham areas, who wish to be involved
Wednesday, 8 February 2017
Early diagnosis beneficial for people with dementia
The Columbus Dispatch
At first, Chuck Brockman started misplacing his keys and wallet.
It must be signs of getting older, Brockman thought. The East Side resident was 56 at the time, which, "while not old, wasn't young, either," he told himself.
He then kept forgetting to punch in and out of work and couldn't remember how to add or the combination to his locker.
His doctor told him he was stressed and overworked and should try relaxing more.
But once he started having hallucinations and vivid dreams, including one in which an angel told him the date of his not-so-distant death, Brockman knew he was dealing with something much more serious.
So he went back to his doctor, who diagnosed Alzheimer's disease, the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States.
A specialist - a doctor treating his mother for Alzheimer's - later confirmed that Brockman had early-onset Lewy body dementia, a neurodegenerative disorder often confused with other disorders because of similar symptoms. People with Lewy body, for example, can experience confusion or memory loss like Alzheimer's, or stiffness, tremors and trouble with gait like Parkinson's.
Though initially reluctant to accept the diagnosis, he now is thankful for the early detection and the opportunity it has given him and his wife, Mindy, to plan for what's to come.
"I've accepted it," said Brockman, now 61, who attends as many support groups as he can to help himself and others. "I figured the good Lord gave it to me for a reason, and maybe it's to be an advocate. I'm at peace with that."
Nearly 1 in 9 Ohioans age 45 or older reported increased confusion or memory loss over the previous 12 months, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But fewer than half talked to their doctors about their concerns, despite the benefits of early detection.
Of the Ohioans surveyed, nearly 52 percent said their worsening memory interfered with work or social activities or caused them to give up activities, cooking, cleaning or paying bills. Almost 36 percent said they needed assistance with daily activities.
"There's definitely a stigma attached to Alzheimer's disease, and many people are afraid to talk about memory changes because they assume the worst," said Vince McGrail, executive director and CEO of the central Ohio chapter of the Alzheimer's Association.
In one survey, Americans said they feared developing Alzheimer's disease more than any other major, life-threatening disease including cancer, stroke, heart disease or diabetes. Because there's no cure, prevention or treatment to slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease, many see getting it as a death sentence, McGrail said.
In Ohio, more than 210,000 people are living with Alzheimer's and 596,000 are providing unpaid care for someone with the disease, according to the Alzheimer's Association. Nationally, an estimated 5.4 million Americans are living with the disease at an annual cost to taxpayers of $236 billion.
While some might have mild cognitive impairment or be in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia, experiencing increasing or worsening confusion or memory problems - "subjective cognitive decline," as it is called - is just a warning sign, he said.
Early and accurate detection allows whatever is causing the problem - whether it's dementia-related or something else entirely - to be targeted before severe deterioration occurs, said Tricia Bingham, director of programs and services for the central Ohio Alzheimer's Association chapter.
"People don't realize it, but research has shown that 9 percent of individuals experiencing dementia-like symptoms actually have a potentially reversible cause such as depression or a vitamin B12 deficiency," she said.
An early diagnosis, even if for Alzheimer's or another form of dementia, also allows individuals and their families to get treatment to help with symptoms, build a care team, enroll in support services and participate in clinical trials, she said.
Affected individuals can be involved in important decisions about their care and finances while they still have the capacity to make them, she said.
Despite hating that he had to stop driving and working, Brockman said he still fells like his old self and now focuses on what he can do, instead of what he can't. He and his wife enjoy the education, encouragement and support they receive at the various support groups they attend.
They joined family and friends in participating in last year's Columbus Walk to End Alzheimer's, raising $900 for Alzheimer's care, support and research.
Brockman, who recently was asked by the national Alzheimer's Association to serve as a Lewy body dementia advocate, also was approved to participate in a drug trial through Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center. And he and his wife are doing things they've always dreamed of, such as attending a Florida State-Clemson game in Tallahassee last fall. No more putting things off, they agreed.
"We're not going to let it stand in our way," Mrs. Brockman said.
"I'm focused on living in a way I wasn't before my diagnosis," Mr. Brockman added.
If you have questions or concerns about memory loss generally or Alzheimer's and other dementias specifically, you can call the Alzheimer's Association 24-7 Helpline at 1-800-272-3900 or go to www.alz.org/centralohio.