Authors abstract : Mariet Theune, Frédéric Ehrler, Nicolas Szilas, Henk Herman Nap, Pia Vandebergh, Razvan Craciunescu and Martijn Vastenburg

At the beginning of this year, the Posthcard project team submitted an abstract at the Supporting Health by Technology Conference. This edition would take place 11-12 June in Enschede on the campus of the University of Twente. (https://healthbytech.com)

The focus is on the progress in the development of eHealth interventions and the introduction of new methods and models for change using monitoring technologies. 

The abstract on Alzheimer Care Trainer: a personalized simulation to practice daily care situations with people with Alzheimer’s disease has been accepted for oral presentation at the conference. According to the reviewers, the technology is well explained and fits within the theme of the conference.

The conference did not take place because of the COVID-19 pandemic and is rescheduled for June 2021. But all accepted abstracts for 2020 are now published in a Digital Abstract Book 2020 for Supporting Health by Technology. (click here to download).

Caring for people with Alzheimer’s by family, relatives and health professionals is a challenge.  Quality of life for everyone, that’s what it’s all about. If something is no longer possible or is more difficult, there are tools that can help the caregiver and the person with Alzheimer’s disease in their caring tasks and communication.

The ACT (Alzheimer Care Trainer) offers help in finding the most appropriate interaction style according to the profile of the person in need of care.

You can read the full text below (and in online Abstract Book on page 8 and 60)

Alzheimer Care Trainer: a personalized simulation to practice daily care situations with people with Alzheimer’s disease

Authors abstract : Mariet Theune, Frédéric Ehrler, Nicolas Szilas, Henk Herman Nap, Pia Vandebergh, Razvan Craciunescu and Martijn Vastenburg

In this presentation we introduce the Alzheimer Care Trainer, a personalized simulation that allows informal caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s disease to practice daily care situations in order to identify the most adapted interaction style towards the person they care for.

Background

Alzheimer’s disease impacts not only the life of the people themselves but also that of their caregivers. Many people with Alzheimer’s disease are supported at home by their relatives or home caregivers. The behavior changes induced by the evolution of the disease can alter the quality of the relationship between the person with Alzheimer’s disease and his/her relatives, transforming simple daily activities into overwhelming challenges and therefore impacts the quality of life of these informal caregivers. One source of tension is the misunderstanding of the person with Alzheimer’s behavior and the incapacity of the caregiver to adopt the proper behavior when interacting with this person, in the event of insufficient knowledge and training or lack of experience. Learning strategies to cope with the daily life activities is a recognized intervention to mitigate caregivers’ burden and stress.

Methods

In the POSTHCARD project, we develop the Alzheimer Care Trainer, a narrative simulation that allows caregivers to practice daily living situations they might encounter with a person with Alzheimer’s disease. The simulation lets caregivers enter a virtual 3D home environment, where they can explore and experience real-life interactions with the person they care for. They can customize the simulation according to the specific characteristics of the illness as well as their own coping style, allowing them to practice multiple scenarios and explore different strategies. This will make informal caregivers aware of the appropriate behaviors to care for people with Alzheimer’s disease and to interact positively with them in a meaningful and constructive way. Examples of daily situations that can be practiced in the simulation include eating (learning how to react positively to the patient’s loss of appetite and changing abilities to eat) and toileting (learning to deal with negative attitudes of the patient towards personal hygiene and care activities such as taking a shower or simply washing hands).

Findings

Informal and formal caregivers dealing with people suffering of Alzheimer have been involved in the testing of early mockups of the Alzheimer Care Trainer. Through questionnaires and interviews they have provided feedback on the design, as well as input for the desired functionalities. Based on this input, a first working prototype of the Alzheimer Care Trainer has been developed.

Discussion

Currently we are working on improving and extending this prototype based on heuristic evaluations by usability experts. The next step will be to carry out a pilot test among end-users in three countries: the Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland.

POSTHCARD is co-funded by the AAL Joint Program and the National Authorities and R&D programs in The Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and Romania. In the Netherlands the project is being made possible by ZonMw under project number 735170004.