The Alzheimer's statistics according to The Alzheimer's Association are that over 5 million Americans (Ad) currently suffer from the disease. It is the sixth leading cause of death worldwide. More than 15 million caregivers provided 18.1 billion hours of unpaid care at a value of $221.3 billion.
Cognitive Assessment Tools
Most tools for assessing cognitive abilities have been in the traditional written form, as offered by the Alzheimer's Association. The ability of digital tools to detect early diagnosis of Ad is important in medical and social planning for the patient and family. Some have taken traditional diagnostic tools, transforming them into a digital platform such as Quest Diagnostics' CogniSense.
Another approach is one seen with utilization of the Anoto Pen which measures writing up to 80 times per second. A study by Lahey Medical Center and MIT looked at using the pen versus traditional cognitive assessment tools in response to Ad.
“… while healthy adults spend more time on the dCDT [digital clock drawing test via Anoto] thinking (with the pen off the paper) than “inking,” memory-impaired subjects spend even more time than that thinking rather than inking. Parkinson’s subjects, meanwhile, took longer to draw clocks that tended to be smaller, suggesting that they are working harder, but producing less — an insight not detectable with previous analysis systems…”
A digital platform called Neurotracks claims to be able to detect Ad at the earliest of stages by assessing recognition memory which is a function specific to the hippocampal region of the brain. Digital assessment tools like these save clinician time and offer a better objective patient assessment.
A handful of studies that shown that 'brain exercise' in the form of cognitive augmentation games decreases the risk of Ad. An older review of studies showed that while they suggest brain exercises slowed progression of cognitive decay they did not affect mood or the ability to care for oneself. It is worthy to note that patients with larger baseline 'cognitive reserve' do better to a point then characteristically have a rapidly progressive course.
Music should be considered as a potentially much appreciated and useful tool. An intriguing interactive game/tool is Tovertafel, a Dutch technology which projects via suspended box visuals onto a table. There are various exercises and games on the platform which are both enjoyable and mentally stimulating. Less sophisticated yet popular games are offered by the Alzheimer’s Association.
Tools To Monitor Daily Activities
Technologies have been developed to aid patients with mild to moderate Ad and their caregivers all to make daily activities easier as well as safer. SmartSole makes an innersole with built in GPS that hooks up to an app and call service for alerts.