eHealth and improvement of health literacy in older adults – best practices and obstacles

eHealth and improvement of health literacy in senior citizens – best practices and obstacles

03.12.2015By: Ioannis Koutelidas

The implementation of the IROHLA pilot programmes showed positive attitudes of senior citizens towards the use of e-health applications (transfer of health resources and healthcare by electronic means) and m-health applications (delivery of healthcare services via mobile communication devices) for improving and managing their health.

Modern information and communication technology (ICT) can help senior citizens overcome difficulties related to distance from health centres and support them to understand their health issues, improve their communication with care givers and service providers, and enhance informed decision making. Additionally, ICT facilitates more targeted public health and medical interventions, as well as remote diagnosis and monitoring. In general, technology offers tools necessary for families, communities, healthcare professionals and the healthcare system to assist older people to age healthily. ICT creates innovative solutions, such as interventions through the internet, mobile phones, tablets, and video games that can improve the health of older people.

IROHLA’s work on e-health and m-health

The IROHLA project examined several promising practices among different groups of participants, including older adults with low health literacy, using different kinds of technical equipment. Some of these were applications that aimed to increase physical activity and track weight loss, while others supported behavioural change and sleep quality, or were games designed to improve cognitive skills.

One of the pilot projects designed by Prolepsis Institute aimed to improve participants’ knowledge about physical activity and healthy nutrition as well as related behaviours, while exploring attitudes towards ICT-based health applications. The content was based on the Greek National Dietary Guidelines for older people developed by the Prolepsis Institute. This tool enabled participants to set their own dietary and physical activity goals and assess them at the end of a specific period (normally one week) regardless of whether they achieved them or not. The system generated personalised messages based on the assessment of goals.

Research conducted during the implementation of the IROHLA project brought to the surface important learning points and obstacles that need to be carefully examined when developing similar interventions. One of the main conclusions was the need for active and continuous collaboration between application developers, healthcare professionals and researchers. Other matters that should be taken into consideration when designing such applications include simplification of the content and use of the application, and the ability to set short-term, personalised goals.

The importance of considering socio-economic status

In an era of technological innovations, a false perception dominates that all people are familiar with computers, smart phones and tablets. But this is not always true, especially when referring to the older generation. In addition, socio-economic status plays an important role in determining understanding of new technologies and the messages it delivers. That is why these factors should not be ignored when designing e-health and m-health applications that aim to contribute to the reduction of both inequalities between different social groups.

Source: news


Where will Alzheimer’s research go in 2017?

Where Does Alzheimer’s Treatment Go From Here?

This article comes to us from NPR (National Public Radio out of the US). It talks about how recent research into Alzheimer’s prevention and treatment and the decades of research before haven’t yielded the positive results we have all been hoping for. But, that there are still people working hard in this field and searching for new possibilities based on the unsuccessful results so far.

It’s not the most positive read, but it does show how there are many hypotheses for how and why Alzheimer’s disease develops and progresses and even more hypotheses for potential treatment.

Whether it’s antibiotics, probiotics or vaccines, the list of potential Alzheimer’s treatments being considered goes on.

“The bottom line is we need to take more shots on goal,” says Isaacson. “The next frontier is recognizing that there probably isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, and that using targeted therapies based on a person’s own biology and genetics will bring the most benefit. The future of Alzheimer’s therapeutics is in precision medicine.”

Dementia: investing against the trillion dollar disease

research*eu results features highlights from the most exciting EU-funded research and development projects. It is published 10 times per year in English. The August/September 2016 issue is a special feature on ‘Dementia: investing against the trillion dollar disease’.

research*eu results magazine - August 2016/September 2016

Issue 55 – August 2016/September 2016


  • Julie Wadoux of AGE Platform Europe in Belgium on ‘Stakeholders join forces to create age-friendly environments across Europe’
  • Hubert Martens of Medtronic in the Netherlands on ‘Brain pacemakers without side effects’
  • Dr. Mark Isalan of Imperial College London in the United Kingdom on ‘The long sought cure to Huntington’s disease’

Other highlights:

  • Chest pain treatment offers hope for the fight against neglected fungal diseases
  • What knowledge societies can learn from foraging societies
  • Disrupting the solar energy status quo
  • A deeper understanding about the causes of sea-level rise
  • New interactive app encourages users to adopt healthier lifestyles
  • EU Scientists use silver to make lights shine more brightly
  • New tools and methods to protect Europe’s Critical Infrastructure
  • Innovative stacking technique results in highly detailed images of Mars


You can download it for free here:;pgid=GSPefJMEtXBSR0dT6jbGakZD0000VCTF9fYd;sid=a9NobXoofeZodS3fMVj2yhgNyRAUPX37bQA=?CatalogCategoryID=Yriep2Ix6ucAAAEvxusQ_v3E

And check out other issues from research*eu results here:

Independent living in an ageing society through innovative ICT solutions

Independent living in an ageing society through innovative ICT solutions

Europe is facing a major societal challenge in the fact of a rapidly increasing ageing population. A key challenge is to find real solutions to ensure that our older citizens are able to live healthy, fulfilling and independent lives whilst keeping health and care systems sustainable. Exciting and groundbreaking EU research and innovation efforts look set to deliver these solutions.
Independent living in an ageing society through innovative ICT solutions

With each passing year, Europeans are living longer. Although this is to be applauded, there will be increasing demands for health, social and informal care services over the coming decades. This will have real effects on how we live, work and shape our external and domestic environments – home, communities, cities and towns. Questions over who is (or who should be) responsible for health and social care will be at the top of political agendas and concrete answers must be provided. At the same time, the changing age structure of our society can also open up new opportunities for innovation in the digital economy and society.
Read more at:

Foreshadowing Alzheimer’s Disease

Researchers found a specific genetic pattern that corresponded to elevated expression of tau and b-amyloid proteins and weak regulation of protein homeostasis, indicating a high likelihood of future plaques and tangles in those with this gene grouping.

Source: BioTechniques – Foreshadowing Alzheimer’s Disease

Researcher testing drugs to treat Lewy body dementia

An Ohio State University researcher is enrolling patients in the first U.S. clinical trials of two drugs being tested in the treatment of Lewy body dementia, one of the most common but least talked about neurodegenerative diseases.

Source: Ohio State researcher testing drugs to treat Lewy body dementia


One trial is testing the safety and effectiveness of RVT-101, a once-a-day pill that researchers think can restore cognitive function, or thinking skills, in people with Lewy body dementia. About 240 people will be enrolled in the United States, Spain and France for this six-month study.

People with the disease, between the ages of 50 and 85, who are interested in learning more about the trials can call the Wexner Medical Center at 614-293-4376.

The NEEDS of older adults in emergency and disaster relief

With renewed inspiration from the recent HelpAge International update on the situation for older adults after the Nepal earthquake (see my post on Rising from the rubble: Nepal earthquake one year on), I decided to publish my recent research on the topic. Continue reading

Carers falling through the cracks

Compensating the kindness of strangers

Mary makes $8.40 an hour before taxes — $1.60 below the Massachusetts minimum wage — from the private agency that employs her. She nets $610 a week for 84 hours of work — and makes no overtime, although state law entitles her to time-and-a-half for every hour over 40. Continue reading

Professor Uses Spice Painting to Slow Progress of Dementia

Dr. Tisone’s scent painting activity involves mixing spices with water to make watercolor paints with the hope that the scents will bring back memories for the patients.  Students are trained to elicit conversation based on reactions to those smells.

– See more at: Professor Uses Spice Painting to Slow Progress of Dementia

New Study Finds Alzheimer’s Disease Composed of Three Distinct Subtypes

This information comes to us from Accelerate Cure/Treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease out of Washington, DC in USA. The information is based on a 2015 research article in the journal Aging. The importance of this article lies in the distinction between three subtypes of Alzheimer’s disease, which has implications for understanding the cause and treatment of the types.

New Study Finds Alzheimer’s Disease Composed of Three Distinct Subtypes

A study from UCLA has found that Alzheimer’s disease, which has long been considered as one disease, may actually consist of three distinct subtypes: inflammatory, non-inflammatory, and cortical. In fact, the cortical subtype may be a different condition than the other two.

The journal article in Aging offers the entire article text with free access but may be a bit heavy to read if you are not used to reading academic research. The UCLA news page provides a news article on the research that may be easier to read.

VPH-DARE@IT: Virtual Physiological Human – Dementia Research Enabled by IT

The expected impact of the project will influence the scientific, clinical and industrial communities across Europe and internationally to improve the healthcare of dementia patients. This will both improve patients’ quality of life, and also reduce the burden on carers and the costs of supporting people with dementia.

The “Virtual Physiological Human: DementiA Research Enabled by IT” (VPH-DARE@IT) project aims to provide a systematic, multifactorial and multiscale modelling approach to understanding dementia onset and progression and enable more objective, earlier, predictive and individualised diagnoses and prognoses of dementias to cope with the challenge of an ageing European society.

Source: VPH-DARE@IT: Virtual Physiological Human – Dementia Research Enabled by IT | Joinup

European prevention of Alzheimer’s dementia consortium

This past January, the European prevention of Alzheimer’s dementia consortium (EPAD) launched and will run until 2019. Their goal is to promote quality research on the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias and to accelerate research and the search for an effective treatment.

Today, research increasingly focuses on ways to prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s in the first place. The EPAD project is pioneering a novel, more flexible approach to clinical trials of drugs designed to prevent Alzheimer’s dementia. Using an ‘adaptive’ trial design should deliver better results faster and at lower cost.

Considerable effort has gone into the search for a cure for Alzheimer’s. However, it is now well known that signs of Alzheimer’s disease can be found in the brain decades before the first symptoms appear. Researchers are therefore increasingly focusing their efforts on finding ways of stopping the disease in its tracks during this pre-symptomatic phase to prevent the disease entirely or at least delay the onset of symptoms.

Challenges here include the difficulty of identifying people who are likely to develop Alzheimer’s dementia, our poor understanding of these earliest stages of the disease, and a lack of flexibility in the way clinical trials are carried out.

The EPAD project is addressing these problems in a number of ways. Firstly, it will draw on existing national and regional registers of people at risk of developing Alzheimer’s dementia to create a single, pan-European EPAD register of around 24 000 people. Of these, the 6 000 deemed to be at greatest risk of Alzheimer’s dementia will be invited to join an EPAD cohort of at risk subjects. This group will undergo standardised tests and follow-up. Finally, the project will select around 1 500 people from this EPAD cohort to take part in early stage ‘adaptive’ clinical trials of drugs designed to prevent Alzheimer’s dementia.

The EPAD project does not operate alone. Together with IMI’s EMIF-AD and AETIONOMY projects, it forms the IMI Alzheimer’s disease platform. It is also working closely with other, similar initiatives worldwide, including the US-based Global Alzheimer’s Platform.

In addition, all data collected from the EPAD cohort and trial will be made publicly available for analysis to help researchers everywhere improve their understanding of the early, pre-dementia phase of Alzheimer’s disease.

Ultimately, the hope is that this project will reinvigorate the development of treatments for one of the most challenging diseases facing our ageing societies.

The EPAD website is devoted to inform different audiences including the scientific community, companies, people with dementia, families and carers, Alzheimer associations and the general public, about the project’s existence, its progress and its achievements.

The European Prevention of Alzheimer’s Dementia (EPAD) is a research initiative to improve the understanding of the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease and how it leads to dementia. The project provides a platform to investigate new treatments that aim to prevent or delay the onset of clinical symptoms in people at risk of developing the condition. It involves more than 36 organisations across Europe including universities, pharmaceutical companies and patient organizations.

Check out their website here:


Sorting through evidence on dementia

I came across this website earlier this week. is a tool for you to find and use high-quality clinical research evidence. Just type in what you want to search for and start your researching.

It’s great that there are tools like this out there, since there is so much information on the internet and in social media about dementia, it can often be difficult to tell good, high-quality research from media hype.


Healthy Aging at Culture Night in Copenhagen

This upcoming Friday, October 9, 2015, there is Culture Night in Copenhagen!

The Center for Healthy Aging out of Copenhagen University is offering insight into the latest research from a multitude of different angles – there is something for everyone. Continue reading