Can observing computer use help detect memory problems in people over 65?
The Software Architecture for Mental Health Self-Management (SAMS) Reliability study, based at the University of Manchester, is looking at whether personal computer use, such as emailing and web browsing, can help detect memory or cognitive problems. The study takes place in the participant’s own home and involves some cognitive assessments with a researcher as well as a brief observation of basic computer skills (i.e. composing a simple email). The SAMS study is looking for people aged over 65 years old with Mild Cognitive Impairment or Alzheimer’s disease as well as healthy participants with no memory problems.
We caught up with Gemma Stringer, part of the research team, to find out more.
What are the main aims of the SAMS Reliability study?
The aim of SAMS is to determine whether subtle changes in the patterns of older people’s daily computer use (e.g. sending emails, browsing the web) might be an early indication of cognitive decline. We are therefore looking for differences between the group of people with no diagnosis of memory problems and the group of those with Mild Cognitive Impairment and mild Alzheimer’s disease.
What does it involve for a participant?
Participants will meet with one of the SAMS researchers for a one-off visit. They will be asked to complete a number of basic tasks on a computer, such as writing emails or browsing the internet, for about 45 minutes. They will then be given a brief cognitive assessment to determine their level of memory and thinking functions, as well as be asked questions about their general health, mood and day to day functioning.
How long is the study for? / Is it a one-off visit?
The study is just a one-off visit, which takes place in your own home (the researcher will come to you), taking about 2 hours in total.
What do you hope the outcomes of the study will be?
If we can show that information about daily computer use can be used to detect change in cognition and daily function, this will provide an opportunity for older computer users to monitor and self-manage cognitive and functional decline at an earlier stage, rather than relying on conventional means of detection and diagnosis.
Where is the study based?
The study is based at The University of Manchester.
How has Join Dementia Research helped with recruitment?
Over 25% of our identified potential participants have come through Join Dementia Research and over 30% of the participants who have taken part in SAMS were identified via Join Dementia Research. As Join Dementia Research continues to grow we hope that these figures will continue to increase.
The study is looking for participants in the North West who use a computer at least once a week and who are:
– over 65 years old with a diagnosis of Mild Cognitive Impairment or mild Alzheimer’s disease
– over 65 years old and do not have a diagnosis of memory problems.
You can see if you are eligible for this study – and others around the nation by logging into your Join Dementia Research account.
Still not registered with Join Dementia Research? Why not sign up today?