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Spring 2017 | New Dementia Applications Lead to Enhanced Care

This article originally appeared in the second issue of SenbridGe SEES in Spring 2017 and was written by David Stoller, Canadian Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation and Sarah Macchione, Goodmans LLP.

According to the World Health Organization, there are currently 47.5 million people worldwide who have dementia, with 7.7 million new cases diagnosed every year.

Given this trend, it is imperative that healthcare organizations work more effectively together to evolve practise standards and improve the management and monitoring of patients with dementia. Leading the way in this endeavour is Baycrest Health Sciences, a century-old senior care provider in Toronto with a world-leading research institute in cognitive neuroscience and the host organization for the Canadian Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation (CC-ABHI).

CC-ABHI was established in 2015 as a solution accelerator focused on improving the quality of life of the world’s aging population. Through the collaboration of a multi-disciplinary team, CC-ABHI seeks to develop transformative solutions, test those solutions in real-world settings, and disseminate validated innovations designed to address identified aging and brain health needs.

One such solution being developed by Baycrest researchers at CC-ABHI is ArtOnTheBrain. This evidence-based application, founded in neuropsychology, seeks to address the problem of reduced access to meaningful recreation among older adults with complex health conditions.

Through a series of educational activities and games, ArtOnTheBrain uses visual art presented in an interactive online environment to stimulate cognition and encourage social connections among users. Designed as a web-based app that can be used on a desktop, laptop, or tablet, ArtOnTheBrain can switch between modes so that it can be enjoyed individually, with a partner, or in a group setting. According to Baycrest Psychologist Dr. Kelly Murphy, “research shows arts-based leisure participation has positive health outcomes, such as enhanced well-being and reduced risk of dementia.”

ArtOnTheBrain is currently being scientifically validated so that healthcare professionals can ‘prescribe’ it to their patients as a non-pharmacological intervention. It is anticipated that a commercial product will be available in late 2017.

Another innovation currently in development through the collaboration of researchers at Baycrest and the Toronto Rehab Hospital, is a first-of-its-kind app that allows nurses and personal support workers to track specific behaviours of their patients, including physical aggression, verbal agitation, and sleep patterns. With an accurate record of such behaviours, this tool allows inter-professional teams to better understand what a patient is communicating and when they are experiencing the most distress. While not yet commercially available, the product is currently being developed for pilot testing on the Geriatric Psychiatry Unit at the Toronto Rehab Hospital. If it proves to be effective in the treatment and care of patients, Behavioural Supports Ontario plans to disseminate the application for clinical use within the province.

These are only two of the many solutions being developed, tested and disseminated through collaborations at CC-ABHI. Given the increase in the number of cases of dementia around the world, it is essential that innovative applications such as these are supported to allow the senior population to age more gracefully in the setting of their choice, and to provide caregivers the resources they need to deliver superior care to their patients.

To learn more about CC-ABHI and the innovations they are funding visit:


Also in this issue:

Redefining Affordable Seniors Housing

Combatting Risk in Senior Care Operations

Becoming a Strategy-Focused Seniors Housing Organization

...and more. Click here to continue reading!

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