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Digital Initiatives for Dementia Care in Singapore

Image credits: tech.gov.sg

Alzheimer’s disease affects about 1 in 10 people in Singapore who are aged 60 or older. This disease is the most common type of dementia. It affects a person’s ability to remember, think, and act.

As Singapore’s population ages, more people will have dementia. In 2020, about 53,000 people in Singapore already had dementia. However, technology is making a difference in how Alzheimer’s patients are cared for. By 2030, Singapore will have about one million seniors, with approximately 80,000 expected to develop dementia.

Tests for dementia are now reactive and only administered in response to complaints regarding cognitive abilities. They require literacy skills, take 30 minutes to complete, and require skilled workers to administer.

A study on the validity of an exam that requires participants to sketch on tablets is being conducted by GovTech and Singapore General Hospital. Drawings are then graded by artificial intelligence (AI) based on the drawings and the drawing stroke sequence; thus, the exam takes five minutes to complete, and results are accessible right away.

Furthermore, volunteers can be used because the exam doesn’t require any specific expertise to administer. As a result, dementia screening may be carried out much more quickly and on a larger scale.

On the other hand, the lack of knowledge and compassion for those suffering from dementia is one of the most difficult things that dementia patients must deal with. After all, most patients exhibit no outward signs of their condition.

Through an online virtual reality programme, users can experience a day in the life of a dementia patient in Singapore. As they experience the world through the eyes of a dementia patient, they will learn about the anxieties and frustrations a person with dementia faces at home. Users will also learn how their living situation and connections with others who aid people with dementia might facilitate their independence.

With the help of these resources, the public as well as family caregivers can gain an understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and develop empathy for those who are caring for loved ones. Early dementia treatment has been shown to improve disease management effectiveness significantly. Few studies have shown promising results in detecting possible dementia using AI. Researchers were able to create an AI model that used speech recordings to determine whether a person has dementia.

The machine was initially trained using audio recordings from over 1,000 people of varying cognitive abilities. Using Natural Language Processing (NLP), a technology that allows computers to handle human language and powers things like Siri, it gradually became able to distinguish not only between healthy individuals and those with dementia but also between those with mild cognitive impairment and dementia.

In analysing the data, researchers determined that the content of the test subjects’ speech was more essential than their speaking rate and fluency for detecting dementia. This approach can boost the efficiency of screening and has the potential to become an online service where anyone can quickly upload voice recordings for screening, substantially expanding the number of individuals undergoing dementia screening.

Singapore’s life expectancy is increasing, but it also means that the number of individuals living with dementia is projected to increase to 187,000 by 2050. Different groups are always coming up with new ways to deal with this problem, and technology will undoubtedly play a bigger role in helping people with Alzheimer’s.

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