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Publicatie

Communicatieve strategieën om het geheugen voor betekenisvolle anderen te versterken en de levenskwaliteit te verhogen bij de ziekte van Alzheimer

Boek - Dissertatie

Dementia is the problem of the future in health care. Dementia is hard for the person living with it, but even more burdensome for his/her environment. The conversational dialogue between them seems to decline. The loss of recognition and contact is the most difficult to bare. For the elderly adults, retrieval of proper names is a source of unease and distress. This naming deficit is an early symptom of patients coping with neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease (AD). Individuals with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) are at great risk of being in a prodromal phase of developing Alzheimer's disease. Memory enhancement training is an upcoming intervention in the field of Neurology and Geriatrics. These interventions have already proven to increase cognition in individuals with Mild Cognitive Impairment. Yet no studies have attempted to combine two powerful communication strategies (i.e. Method of Loci and Face-Name mnemonic) with virtual reality to improve the memory of significant others. This study has the ambition to optimize these communication strategies by externalizing and customizing memory palaces for subjects in the early phase of AD. We have developed a mobile application which allows caregivers to construct virtual scale models of the residential settings these individuals presently are living in. These models function as memory palaces in which photos of significant others are connected to the architectural, spatial environment. The application can function as an audio-guide through a well-known environment and subjects in the early phase of AD can make the walk together with a caregiver or a family member. Thus (augmented) reality supports and facilitates participants during their familiar walk along the loci route. We hypothesize this to be a convenient instrument to reaffirm the diminishing dialogue between subjects with dementia and their surroundings by positive storytelling. The first testing results are promising. At follow up we expect an increase in quality of life for subjects in the early phase of AD and their significant others.