Do You Remember, or Have You Forgotten?

Do You Remember, or Have You Forgotten?

Aníbal Caixinha (Instituto Universitário de Lisboa (ISCTE-IUL), Portugal & Instituto de Telecomunicações, Portugal), Vanessa Magalhães (Instituto Universitário de Lisboa (ISCTE-IUL), Portugal & Instituto de Telecomunicações, Portugal) and Isabel Machado Alexandre (Instituto Universitário de Lisboa (ISCTE-IUL), Portugal & Instituto de Telecomunicações, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-3667-5.ch009
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Abstract

Dementia is, unfortunately, a well-known problem and a product of a set of generational transformations as a result of better life conditions. Since we cannot eradicate this problem, we can try to develop means to minimize the effects. Alzheimer disease is one type of dementia that affects 7.3 million people in Europe. Alzheimer does not only affect the person who is ill but also their families and friends at different levels, such as personal, emotional, social, and financial. In this chapter, the authors present an interactive application that, based on a narrative retrospective of the patient’s life, tries to fight the evolution of the disease and maximize the patient’s cognitive function. With this, the authors aim to minimize the effects of the illness and improve the life not only of the patient but also of his/her caregivers and family.
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Background

Stories have always been part of human culture, and although civilization has passed through several changes (cultural, evolutionary, etc.), they remain inside and around us. Each of us is capable of telling a story about his/her own life, each of us stores in his/her memory what happens in the world in the format of stories, and each of us uses stories to understand not only what surrounds us, but also what our role is in such a big play. And what if some day we wake up and such memories, parts of our stories are gone?

This evidence was the major drive for the development of this project, and in particular of the application MEM+, because if someone has lost the ability to remember some important moments of his/her life, there is the chance that by being presented with a story that tells presents such events, the memories may came back. But how relevant is this for Alzheimer’s patients?

Alzheimer’s disease is the most frequent form of dementia in elderly people (Otto et al., 1998) and for the time being no cure was found. Based on this, we centred our research on a non-pharmacological approach, which has already given some indications of being potentially beneficial for patients (Douglas et al., 2004; Tárraga et al., 2006). In (Tárraga et al., 2006) a randomized pilot study was con-ducted to assess the efficacy of an interactive, multimedia tool of cognitive stimulation in Alzheimer’s disease. The multimedia tool allowed the patients to exercise their memory, attention focus and recognition of activities and emotions (Smart Brain, 2012). In this pilot study, the patients that underwent the multimedia tool also received a pharmacological treatment. The results showed some improvements in their cognitive achievements but because of the multitude of variables involved in the study, the authors could not tell explicitly if they would come only from the use of the multimedia application.

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