MABLE is a comprehensive Care Management System for people under care and their caregivers to connect, get organized, reminisce, and stay safe. While many apps are looking to solve individual challenges of Older Adults and those with Dementia, the complexity of ‘apps’, ‘operating systems’, and the distinct interfaces to each can be overwhelming for even the most tech-savvy older adults. MABLE is an ‘all-in-one’ solution that can grow as technology advances and needs change.
Behind the scenes, MABLE is a also a powerful research platform for supporting and empowering the next generation of Dementia Research through comprehensive data gathering capabilities.
MABLE supports older adults, helping them remain in-community for longer and maintain a higher quality of life with its networked support system. MABLE helps Researchers collect the vast quantities of data they need to understand early stages or pre-dementia better, in particular with respect to behaviour and cognition. MABLE meets both those needs.
Inspiration for MABLE
The idea started back in 2012 when Rodney and Lori Hoinkes were struggling to coordinate care for Rodney’s older parents with four other family caregivers. They looked online for a solution – but nothing existed that met all the needs. They were looking for:
- Communication – voice, video, and text – with alerts to family caregivers to signal too much or too little communication;
- Scheduling – ensure appointments, visits, and medicines are well known and alerts provided;
- Memories – a way to easily share family memories and current lives in a form suitable to older adults; and
- Safety – ensure support for modern IoT devices to help keep people safer and in their home longer.
And of course, this all had to be super easy to use, especially for Mom and Dad. Clearly nothing like this existed, so they decided they would need to create it themselves. Over the next three years, they made lots of notes, did research and even nicknamed the product MABLE.
HackerNest presents DementiaHack 2015
In the fall of 2015, team MABLE expanded its size and its scope, in response to the challenge put forth by DementiaHack 2015. Dementia has a large impact upon our health system, older adults quality of life, and that of family caregivers. With MABLE, we investigated how the initial capabilities could better support families before and after a diagnosis of Dementia, until they required more substantial institutional care.
Coordination, editing, and reports from MABLE are provided through a Caregiver app, available on mobile phones.
What did we learn and add?
- Depression is one of the most prevalent factors impacting many Older Adults, especially those with Dementia, and their caregivers. Our solution for Communication can be an assist to better manage contact and reduce gaps that lead to isolation and depression.
- The challenges of memory increase significantly with Dementia, but are also significant factors for busy caregivers. Our Scheduling system should be a helpful reminder. Older adults and those with Dementia not only suffer from a lack of contact but can readily be overwhelmed by too much activity as well. MABLE’s Scheduling system can recognize this and provide breaks actively in relation to the load an Older Adult can manage.
- Safety becomes more critical as Dementia progresses and is one of the key issues that divides home care from the move to institutional care. Notification as gentle-to-progressively-serious nature and including Caregivers is critical.
- Many Caregivers face burn-out themselves and enabling a group to assist and support one another and those with Dementia can reduce the personal burdens. MABLE needed to be fully group-aware and mobile.
- MABLE slideshows run automatically (like a screensaver) making them suitable as an ambient assist even later in stages of Dementia. With support for favourite music, MABLE provides comforting imagery and sounds from a time that memory has not stolen – reducing anxiety. This has been proven to lower aggression and can improve appetite when suitable music is available at meal times.
- Diagnosis of Dementia is a fuzzy task. The line between regular aging and Dementia-driven cognitive decline is not always obvious and visible, especially in cases where caregivers are not living with the people under care. Methods exist that can help review, assess and indicate trends in cognition and behaviour that can be enabled in-home through normal activities undertaken by users of MABLE. We built monitoring tools right into the communication and memories (slideshow) capabilities of MABLE.
Some examples of how this all works
There are countless scenarios we have imagined and supported through MABLE. Let us provide a few examples:
- * Mom has been out to a doctors meeting, lunch with a friend, and has come home to 2 phone calls already. As you call her, you are informed that your Mom has not had a break in over 4 hours and you may wish to consider giving her a break before your call. You can continue or consider a break a good idea and hang up before it interrupts Mom.
- * Dad was very happy to receive 3 calls from family and friends on Tuesday but now it is Friday and nobody has called for 3 days and Dad is feeling lonely. MABLE can provide a notification to family (or friends as desired) that there has been no contact in 3 days – perhaps you could take a moment and check in on Dad.
- * While Mom has been watching the built-in slideshow, eye tracking is engaged on a regular basis (MABLE can tell if you are watching the slideshow and turn this on). By introducing old and completely new images in a controlled pattern, short-term memory can be assessed and monitored over time, providing and early-warning system of cognitive decline.
- * While on phone or video calls through MABLE, automated speech recognition is undertaken. Discussions can be assessed via Machine Learning to understand levels of depression, anxiety, and memory over time, providing helpful assists to caregivers about ongoing mental state (theirs included if desired.) Trends in behaviour over time or throughout days can catch issues such as sundowning, some of which can readily be assisted by some medications, providing an improved quality of life where smaller assists may be needed.
The Urgent Need for Dementia Research Data
The above listed capabilities are not where we stopped. We started to explore a number of other features for MABLE but hit roadblocks of unavailable data. As a result we have transformed MABLE into a research platform itself to ensure continuing advancement is possible and not held back by a lack of data in the future.
- MABLE Assist. A smart assistant (phone or via Smart Watch) could help Caregivers to better respond to Dementia sufferers in manners that are constructive. Many challenging situations are faced for the first time in care and immediate advice with followup references (we image something like an end-of-day email with more pointed links) could transform the learning stresses on caregivers and those with Dementia.
- Wandering root cause analysis. While many system exist to try and track those who many wander from a home, MABLE has a system that can track basic activities through a small waterproof beacon (< $10) which can be sewn into clothing. MABLE can monitor the beacon and assess possibilities of why wandering may be occuring – not enough activity during the day, incontinence, hunger, to name a few of the many reasons. If the root cause can be understood, it can more readily be supported and wandering risks reduced from the start.
The above examples are possible only with a comprehensive data solution, empowering advanced Machine Learning algorithms. No existing data resources exist that could feed such systems, and none that could trace down to benefits to an individual and up to the broader realm of Dementia Research. Imagine how governments could better allocate resources if they understood a breakdown of wandering causes with statistics (is exercise during the day the cause of 10% or 90% of the cases, should we and how much should be fund daytime exercise programs.)
How Does MABLE Accomplish This?
MABLE gathers a myriad of data points every day from those under care and their caregivers. It knows about contacts from phone, video, doctors appointments and in-home visits. We even have a simple solution for MABLE to connect better with the community in which users live – engaging people in care as a benefit to all (those under care and businesses and services in the community.) This data can feed back to immediate benefits for the family and if acceptable, can feed the broader Dementia Research community with critical data, even long before any official diagnosis is possible.
Join us in developing, testing, and enabling the future of family care and Dementia research with MABLE. You can Make A Better Life Everyday.