Alzheimer's disease is generally considered to be incurable and virtually no treatments have been found to reverse its progression; once it starts it cannot be stopped or reversed, at least with currently available treatments. Thus, tools or treatments that delay its progression and help patients cope with their symptoms are an integral part of managing the devastating effects of Alzheimer's disease – for both patients and their loved ones. Approximately one year ago Azer Jaafoura and a number of his colleagues at Samsung Electronics Tunisia (SETN) decided to develop an app called Backup Memory that does just that, all in their spare time.
Recent studies have demonstrated that cognitive stimulation in the form of regular reminders of past events can slow the progression of Alzheimer's while simultaneously combating one of its hallmark symptoms. Backup Memory, produced with the help of the Tunisian Alzheimer's Association and development company 3SG BBDO, functions as a memory stimulator and database by helping patients identify nearby family members and friends, the relationship they have, and reminds them of memories they have shared through photos and videos. Backup Memory utilizes Bluetooth to search for other smartphones running the app within a 33-foot radius. If a person is found the app displays relevant information about the individual to the patient. Relevant information and multimedia is manually uploaded into the app; during setup individuals to identify themselves as patients or relatives. While the app is fully developed Azer and his colleagues plan on updating the user interface and adding additional features, such as the ability for relatives to access the real-time location of their loved ones with GPS.
The Tunisian Alzheimer's Association, who tested Backup Memory during its development, has reported that patients using the app have experienced positive results thus far. While Backup Memory is not a technological breakthrough, as Azer puts it, it integrates existing technology in a way that improves the lives of individuals suffering from the devastating effects of Alzheimer's. According to Azer, "There is so much good you can do with technology, and I'd like to think that we are just getting started." Those interested can grab the app from the Play Store or by clicking here.