Smartphone app technology to 'replace' lost memories for people with dementia gets Alzheimer's Society funding boost

Posted On: 
22nd May 2019

Alzheimer’s Society announces the winners of ground-breaking crowdsourcing ideas programme, with cutting edge technology How do I? and Jelly Drops at their Annual Conference.    

Alzheimer’s Society’s new ground-breaking crowdsourcing ideas programme - which aims to hunt out innovations to help people with dementia live better - is delighted to announce its first two winners:

  • The How Do I? app, which helps people affected stay independent for as long as possible with smartphone videos
  • Jelly Drops, treats to help ease dehydration

The smartphone app ‘How do I?’, which can help people with dementia to carry out everyday tasks like boiling a kettle, by flashing up ‘how to’ videos when their phone scans an object, has today been awarded funding by the UK’s leading dementia charity to bring the product to market.

The videos not only provide prompts of daily routines – how to make a cup of tea or take a bath – but can also remind people with dementia of forgotten memories, with loved ones able to record an explanation of a photo, and the memory it captures.  The app is announced as figures released by Alzheimer’s Society for Dementia Action Week showed that the number of people with dementia who are currently living alone (120,000 people) is set to double in the next 20 years.

Jelly drops – sweets containing 90% water, which can keep people with dementia hydrated for a whole day – also received financial backing from Alzheimer’s Society’s. Jelly Drops were invented by Lewis Hornby after his grandmother with dementia was hospitalised for dehydration – a widespread problem for people with the condition, who often forget or don't want to drink.

The first winners will each receive £100,000 worth of funding and specialist guidance from the charity.

Rachel, whose partner David is living with dementia, said: “When we started working with How Do I?, we experimented with a video diary. We recorded a 360° view of a location that we had been in, and snippets of what we’d been doing there. Video can capture so much more detail than a photograph can. David always enjoys watching himself back in the videos when we get home, and they help to jog his memory.”

Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Technology and innovation has the power to transform lives, and we want to harness this power for the 850,000 people living with dementia across the UK.

“While we work tirelessly to find a cure for this devastating disease, technologies like How do I?’ and Jelly Drops can help improve care and lives for everyone living with dementia today.  Through assistive technology we can transform our understanding of how to best manage dementia - but we need everyone to take part to help us find the most promising and revolutionary ideas. Whether you work in an office, a lab, are living with dementia, or are a full time carer, unite with us by submitting your ideas for a product to help people living with the condition.

“This kind of innovation must go hand in hand with a properly funded social care system, as Alzheimer’s Society proposed this month with the Dementia Fund, or our efforts to improve the lives of people with dementia will be undermined by scarce, expensive and poor quality care.”

Alzheimer’s Society is leading the way in rebalancing investment between biomedical and care research (1). How do I? and Jelly drops are the winners of a cutting-edge programme, which invites as many people as possible – from all backgrounds and occupations - to create and design products and services that will support people to live well and independently with dementia. Alzheimer’s Society is the only charity to be using such innovation to find the best products, offering £100,000 and specialist guidance to the winners to bring their products to market. More information can be found at: alzheimers.org.uk/accelerator

The funding announcement came as part of Dementia Action Week (DAW), at the charity’s annual conference, which covers a range of topics shining a light on how we can all fight dementia locally and internationally, and find solutions to create a society which includes people with dementia, and understands that people with dementia can still play an active role in their community.  Hot topics for discussion at the conference include the Dementia Fund, which will help people with dementia facing horrendous costs for their care right now. Alzheimer’s Society is calling for investment in high-quality, person-centred care through a dedicated the Dementia Fund, ending the dementia penalty people face when paying for care. Find out more at alzheimers.org.uk/fixdementiacare