Researchers develop new online platform to improve autonomy of people with Alzheimer's disease

Researchers of Valencia's Polytechnic University (UPV), have contributed to the development of a new online platform that helps improve the autonomy and self-reliance of people who suffer from Alzheimer's disease in its initial stages.

The AD Autonomy platform can be accessed through the following website: www.adautonomy.eu/training, and it makes teaching materials, online activities and real activities available to users in order to strengthen their autonomy in eight dimensions of their daily lives. Thus, for example, the platform makes it possible to learn and put into practice several guidelines to improve postural hygiene, moving around urban surroundings and home safety.

It also includes a personal planner, a tool which gathers all the activities that must be conducted, and which acts as a reminder for people with dementia and their family; materials and activities focused on household finances whose goal, among others, is to help them manage their household expenses; a series of recommendations on nutrition, cleaning and looking after one's home; and different actions to support emotional skills.

Each of the dimensions includes a series of basic materials aimed both at the patient and their surroundings; documents that describe the strategies that must be put into practice in order to improve the level of self-reliance; activities, because the best way to learn it putting the recommendations and support material into practice."  

Antonio Martínez Millana, researcher for the SABIEN-ITACA group of the UPV

The materials have been produced by the AD-AUTONOMY project consortium, which has included the participation of scientists, psychiatrists, sociologists, neurologists, personnel from attention centres for people with Alzheimer's disease, and patients themselves, to achieve a design methodology that is focused on the user.

"In Europe there are around six million people who suffer from Alzheimer's disease; it affects 10% of the population over 65, and almost 50% of people over 85. This disease also affects relatives and carers. AD Autonomy helps improve the quality of life of all of them, taking action in the initial stages of Alzheimer and other dementias, uniting traditional strategies with new TIC tools," highlights Antonio Martínez Millana.

The platform has been assessed by over 160 users from Spain, the United Kingdom, Slovenia, Greece and Turkey, with a high degree of acceptance and improvement of the autonomy both of patients as well as carers and professionals.

The next goal is to conduct a comparative study with which to assess the positive effect that the use of the platform has on people with incipient states of Alzheimer's disease and how the suggested strategies can improve their autonomy in daily actions, such as shopping or managing their personal finances.

The following entities also took part in the AD-AUTONOMY project: the Provincial Association of Relatives of People with Alzheimer's Disease and other Dementias of Castellón (AFA), the Alzheimer's Association of Turkey, the Alzheimer's Association of Slovenia, the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and Bournemouth University.

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