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Ulster Computer Scientists Spearhead International Dementia Project

University of Ulster healthcare scientists are leading a $200,000 international research project aimed at helping people with dementia live independently in their own homes.

The Ulster research team is working with two partners in Utah – Utah State University and the University of Utah – to analyse more than 5,000 medical histories of people with Alzheimer’s disease.

They hope to gain new insights into the factors which may influence how sufferers cope with the disease through the use of assistive technology.

The team will also gather data from 125 participants in Utah over a 12-month period.

Funded by the US Alzheimer’s Association, the three-year project is led by Chris Nugent, Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Ulster’s Computer Science Research Institute.

“Very often, people with dementia must eventually move from their home environment into a care facility due to their increased care requirements,” Professor Nugent said.

“In this project, we will be exploring the factors which influence the successful adoption of new technologies that can help people with dementia remain at home for longer.

“New assistive technologies which offer voice or video-based reminders throughout the day can give people with dementia improved levels of independence.

“People are however, sometimes afraid of having to learn to use new technologies and devices.

“That’s why this research project is so important – it will enable us better understand the kind of factors which influence why and how people with dementia adopt – or do not adopt – the kinds of new technologies that could give a new level of independence to their life at home.

“According to recent figures, there are currently 800,000 living with dementia in the UK, with annual costs per annum in the region of £23 billion.”

Professor Nugent leads a project team of four Ulster researchers, including Professor Sally McClean, Professor Bryan Scotney and Dr Mark Donnelly.

It is one of a series of Connected Health technology research projects at the University of Ulster, within the Smart Environments Research Group (http://scm.ulster.ac.uk/~scmresearch/SERG/), Computer Science Research Institute.

Work within this group is aimed at developing and implementing new kinds of technological aids to independent living for people with various health and social care needs.

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Audrey Watson

Media & Corporate Relations

University of Ulster

Tel: 028 90366386

E: a.watson1@ulster.ac.uk