PROJECTS   - PAGE UNDER TRANSLATION -

 

2012-2014 • ALEARN (Active Ageing Learning Community)

- Funding entities:

- Collaborators:

- Budget: 399.199 € (72.440 € UDC)

- Abstract:

Ageing severely affects Europe today. However, the challenge confronting the EU now is not the very ageing but how to age actively so that ageing is considered a benefit rather than a burden for the individuals, communities and governments. According to EU data most people over 60 follow sedentary life styles, which leads to an increase in chronic diseases, psychological problems and a decrease in vitality, social contacts and learning. In addition, the reported low use of and access to Internet communication deepens their social isolation.

Thus the main aim of the project is to develop an Active Ageing Learning Community where 60+ will learn how to age actively in terms of their health, physical and cognitive ability, social communication and intergenerational solidarity, and will be supported by 16-35 age. Learning modules in Health Self-Management, ICT for Social Networking and Intergenerational Volunteering will be offered. The expected impact is:

1. Both 60+ and 16-35 will be provided with LLL related to active ageing that corresponds to their needs to prepare for ageing in a positive way from yearly years and throughout their life course.

2. They will acquire skills how to manage their health and live independently at an older age by disease prevention, physical and cognitive activity and healthy nutrition, which will improve their self-esteem and quality of life and keep them active in the society for a longer period. They will learn how to rely on themselves rather than on institutional care and relatives.

3. 60+ will have access to Internet, learn new ICT skills for social networking and practice them in order to improve their social contacts.

4. Both target groups will acquire volunteer skills by working together and supporting each.

5. They will have an opportunity to reconsider their life styles, understand the benefits of active ageing and adopt more active way of living so that they can better cope with the demographic challenges of ageing in Europe.

- Documentation:

- Information leaflet

- Project introduction

2011-2013 • ENVEJECIMIENTO+ACTIVO (New cross-border official protocols on active aging)

- Geographic area of intervention:

The activities of the +Active Aging Project will be developed within the eligible area of the POCTEP 2011-2013 program, particularly within the territorial cooperation area: Galicia- North of Portugal.

- Objetives:

The project main objective is to promote a joint planning and use of cross-border (Galicia and North of Portugal) innovative social equipment, programs and services for an early detection of future dependence needs by the elderly, and the promotion of a healthy and active aging. This general objective is divided into the following specific objectives:

Objective 1. Capitalize, transfer and disseminate at a cross-border level those good practices and innovative advances in early detection of dependency, intergenerational solidarity or active aging which affect the project geographical area, broadening the analysis to a national, transnational and European level.

Objective 2. Advance in the prevention and early detection of dependency by means of a greater cross-border cooperation: interdepartmental and institutional, and in the protocols innovation and areas of intervention.

Objective 3. Develop new cross-border technologic tools and services for the attention of older people.

Objective 4. Promote the aging values at a cross-border level.

- Actions:

The main actions to be developed by the different partners are:

1. Cross-border committee of experts in prevention and detection of dependency.

2. Promotion of innovative solutions for healthy habits.

3. Pilot experiences on the care of dependent persons and personal autonomy.

- Results:

The main expected outcomes are:

1. Promotion of good practices in early detection of dependency.

2. Experimentation with new technologies on the attention of older people, and in particularly, TELEGERONTOLOGÍA®.

3. Increase efficacy in the management of resources by means of a new institutional structure of cross-border cooperation.

- Stakeholder partners:

- Xunta de Galicia.

- Consellería de Traballo e Benestar.

- Secretaría Xeral de Política Social.

- Universidade da Coruña.

- Asociación Provincial de Pensionistas y Jubilados (U.D.P.) de A Coruña.

- Asociación Amicos.

- Centro Distrital de Segurança Social de Viana do Castelo do ISS, IP.

- Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Arcos de Valdevez (SCMAV).

- Serviços de Acçâo Social da Universidade do Minho.

2008-2012 • COMPANIONABLE (Integrated Cognitive Assistive & Domotic Companion Robotic Systems for Ability & Security)

- Abstract:

As the number of persons suffering from cognitive disabilities in Europe increases because of the increasing number of elderly people and pathologies associated with ageing such as Alzheimer´s disease (AD) or depression (see 1.1.4 Background and prognosis at the end of this section), there is a social and economical pressure for staying at home as long as possible. However, both AD and depressive persons suffer from memory and executive disorders as well as lack of motivation and self-esteem which reduce learning skills and induce decreased contact with the environment, impairment of daily activities and loss of autonomy. Those people need the support of carers and are at risk of social exclusion, this, as well that the burden of care for the family carers, is representing a new challenge for social inclusion not yet well addressed by ICT technology.

Care-recipients at home have an increasing need for help from their family and professional carers. Familial carers feel powerless to help and support their care-recipients and so carry a heavy burden. Both cared for person and carer have a reduction in their quality of life and need increasing support. However, the number of both professional and non professional carers at home will not increase in proportion with the number of patients. Familial carers suffer from a heavy psychological, social and financial burden. Both professionals and familial carers might lack support as well as knowledge, education, adequate advice and training skills in caring for disabled persons. For both families and professionals, training sessions are difficult to implement because of the high cost.

Moreover, the personal feelings and likes/dislikes of elderly people must be considered. With this aim, the Spanish Centre of Sociological Research (CIS, Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas)-IMSERSO1 has made a survey in order to find the preferences of elderly people regarding staying in their own home or being cared at a "residential home care centre". This survey shows that more than 70% of the people surveyed prefer to stay in their own homes, avoiding nursing homes for as long as possible. And if they need help, they still prefer to stay in their own homes, adapting them to their needs. The same study shows that according to the age of the person surveyed, for more than 80% of the people aged over 65, the preferred option is their own home rather than nursing homes and assisted living centres.

- CompanionAble:

Addresses the issues of social inclusion and homecare of the aforementioned persons suffering from chronic cognitive disabilities prevalent among the elderly. The Consortium will concentrate its efforts on care-recipients with slight and moderate dementia, in the sense of lowering the progression of the dementia, and, with the same aim, for those elderly and disabled who have a potential risk for dementia, with the aim of prevention.

People with far advanced dementia, totally unaware of what is happening to them, are explicitly excluded from the target clientele, in particular because of ethical questions and risks that cannot be reliably estimated. Furthermore, people with a high degree of dementia typically do not live in their own home environment for several reasons, beginning with the risk of self-induced accidents (e.g. forgetting to turn-off the oven) and ending with the rising need for being under direct human observation around-the-clock. Therefore, our main goal to allow people to remain in their familiar home environment as long as possible is not valid for this group of care-recipient, but is suited to the clientele described above.

One unique selling point of the CompanionAble project lies in the synergetic combination of the strengths of an embodied mobile robotic companion with the advantages of a stationary smart home environment since in typical care scenarios the exclusive use of a mobile robot on the one hand or a smart home solution on the other hand cannot accomplish the demanding tasks to be solved. Positive effects of both individual solutions shall be combined to demonstrate how the synergies between a stationary smart home solution and an embodied mobile robot companion can make the carer and the care-recipient´s interaction with their assistive system significantly better, because it is expected that the sum of both aspects is more than its parts. Moreover, the combination of robot mobility and user-adaptive interaction modes (e.g. via emotion recognition) would better suit the elderly person through their cognitive stimulation, and the flexibility giving cognitive stimulation anywhere in the home will constitute an interesting benefit and impact for the elderly person suffering from loneliness. CompanionAble complements the stationary smart home environment in bringing to bear its capability for integrative continuous observation and detection of critical situations.

Starting with exhaustive requirements engineering for ICT-supported care and therapy management, a number of enabling technologies for multimodal user observation and human-machine interaction will provide the fundamentals for the development of a stationary smart home system and a mobile robot system. This system will be dedicated to assisting the human being and building the cornerstones of the overall system integrating the promising solutions from both parts. Evident support comes from the research activities focusing on an architectural framework, allowing that such a complex care scenario solution can be achieved at all. After the realisation of the smart home and the robot companion scenario, for evaluation and testing extensive field experiments will be carried out. Through the results of these, both scenarios and the corresponding solutions can be evaluated, and their strengths and weaknesses will become obvious. This will be the point of departure for the development of a concept for an overall care scenario, integrating both, the stationary smart home and the mobile robot companion. The realisation of this comprehensive approach to modern ICT-based care and support for those elderly people with moderate cognitive disabilities is to be seen as the in-principal vision of CompanionAble.

- Partners:

- University of Reading. United Kingdon.

- Technical University of Ilmenau. Germany..

- Hospital Broca. France.

- GET/ Inst. National des Télécom. France.

- Tecnalia Research & Innovation. España.

- AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH. Austria.

- LEGRAND. France.

- AKG Acoustics GmbH. Austria.

- Cámara de Comercio e Industria de París CCIP (ESIEE). Francia.

- AGESIGETEL. Francia.

- Universidad d'Evry Val d'Essonne. Francia.

- METRALABS GmbH NeueTechnologien und Systeme. Alemania.

- Stichting Smart-Homes. Holland.

- CURE. Austria.

- University of A Coruna. Spain.

- In-Ham. Belgium.

- Fundación Instituto Gerontológico Matía. España.

- Verklizan B.V. Holland.

2007-2009 • STU-RET ILC (Students-Retirees Intergenerational Learning Circles)

Aging in Europe imposes the provision of more attractive LLL offers for seniors, which correspond to their learning needs for personal development and self-determination. In addition, today seniors are healthy and capable to work after retirement but the low level of some Lisbon key competences makes them unable to meet the demands of the knowledge-based society and stay active and socially included longer in life. There is also a lack of understanding between seniors and young in relation to their values and how they can be mutually respected and used for the benefit of both groups, and the community as a whole, i.e. intergenerational learning is underestimated.

- Core objectives:

To develop a supportive intergenerational learning environment where intergenerational learning circles of retirees and students will be formed so that they can get aware of their cultures and respect diversity; To elaborate learning materials in order to improve some of the European key competences as well as the physical activity and health awareness; To use the blended learning approach with both retirees and students so that they can self-determine their learning environment, self-manage their time; To enhance the teaching competence of both target groups thus contributing to the mutual transfer of knowledge, skills, and experience for the benefit of the community.

- Outputs/Results:

Intergenerational e-learning environment based on intergenerational learning circles of students and retirees, implemented by: 1. intergenerational curriculum; 2. learning materials in Social skills, Adapted Sport Games and Health Issues; Basic ICT and English Language Skills 3. teaching material for both students and retirees; 4. team portfolios and country portfolios; 5. reports on the research findings; 6. reporting, quality and evaluation procedures. 7. partnership e-communication system. 8. evaluation and progress reports.

- Impact:

The target groups will have an access to an attractive LLL environment where they can understand each other better and mutually transfer their competence and experience so that they can enhance their personal growth, self-esteem and self-fulfillment. They will learn to learn in order to enhance their interpersonal, intercultural, social and digital competence, communication in foreign languages and their physical fitness and health awareness so as to stay active and socially involved longer in order to meet the demands of the European knowledge-based society. In this respect they will be more motivated to continuously improve their knowledge and skills and participate more actively in LLL provisions. They will also get aware of European cultural diversity and use it in favour of European socio-economic and cultural development.

- Partners:

Department for Language and Specialized Training. Gabrovo. Bulgaria.

Gerontology Research Group. University of A Coruña. Spain.

Cyprus Adult Association. Cyprus.

Pirkanmaa Westcome, Adult Education Unit. Ikaalinen. Finland.

Pirkanmaa Department of the Pensioners´ Union. Mouhijärvi. Finland.

The Academy of Humanities and Economics in Lodz. Lodz. Polland.

2006-2008 • ADD-LIFE! (ADDing quality to LIFE through inter-generational learning via universities)

- Participating institutions:

- Associate partner institutions:

- Summary:

Not only the economy and the labour market but also our European civil society cannot afford to lose the skills, competences and experiences of older people. The overall aim of the project ADD-LIFE! is to develop universityaccredited modules for non-traditional students, especially senior citizens. The curricula specify scientific learning as well as instruction for training promoters in the specific topic taught.

- Objectives:

Explore different models of inter-generational learning, collaborative learning between older and younger learners, and inter-generational collaboration on designing new modules.

Develop learning opportunities that will promote participation of individuals in European civil society as promoters and facilitators/mentors with others.

Design 12 modules of learning using these different models and different flexible approaches, and pilot 6 of these.

Evaluate the pilots systematically and report on the lessons learned from inter-generational teaching and learning, and from collaborative design; and evaluate systematically and report on the lessons learned about universities´ potential role in training promoters for different fields of voluntary and paid work, identifying the need for further development, including concrete recommendations.

Disseminate and valorise the outputs and products of the project among the professional communities in European universities and beyond.

 

2012-2015 • AGAD-TIC (Apoyo Gerontológico A Domicilio (AGAD) a través de las Nuevas Tecnologías (TIC): Domótica y Telemedicina)

- Funds:

- Participants:

- Budget: 431.791,08 € (Grant: 42.058,08 €)

- Summary:

The main objective of the AGAD -TIC project is to promote industrial development in the fields of health and social welfare, particularly with regard to technologies that support older people to stay at home. To achieve this objective, this project aims to increase the functionality of a product already existing in the market (Telegerontology®) to provide more and better services in the field of telemedicine, remote alarm and telecare, incorporating new devices and home domotics management.

Telegerontología® is a device which was first developed in year 2001. Some of its functionalities are:

- Static Files: socio-sanitary training and support issues developed by experts.

- Professional at Home: videoconference to establish direct contact with professionals.

- Group therapies: allow access to physical and/or cognitive therapies through videos.

- Cognitive Assessment and Training: using the own developed application, Telecognitio®, different mental areas such as memory, attention and concentration are trained by means of activities that allow the monitoring of the user´s cognitive state while interacting with the system.

It also includes a remote record of biomedical parameters. These types of devices offer a lot of possibilities, for example control and monitor chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, cardiac disorders, lung diseases and others... So far and in a simple and accessible way, Telegerontology® offers the user the possibility to check the blood pressure, the pulse rate and the oxygen saturation level in blood. All registered data generate a diagnostic algorithm that informs the users about the "normality" of the data or the need to be controlled by their GP. In any case, when the Control Centre detects values that fall outside normality, it implies that a professional sets up a videoconference with the user recommending the measures to take.

The specific objectives of the project are:

- Research in the area of home domotics to include in the Telegerontology® device a module addressed to the older people and/or their caregivers, which would integrate the following controls: turn on/off lights; open/close curtains and/or blinds; turn on/off/ regulate heating temperature and/or air conditioning; open/close water supply.

- Research in the field of telemedicine, in order to integrate in Telegerontology® services and devices such as wanderer control, fall detection or diaper moisture detection.

- Reduce the socioeconomic cost of the care of dependent people by extending the Telegerontology® program, proposed in the digital agenda of the city of A Coruña (Smart city) to improve the quality of life, promote personal autonomy and independent life through personalized services, to as many users as possible both in their homes and in public centers.

2008-2011 • GERO-HEALTH (Prevention and health promotion program addressed to the elderly)

- Funds:

- Summary:

Aging of European population is a crucial fact of XXI century, particularly in Spain. With the introduction of the so-called "Dependence Law" (Personal Autonomy Promotion and Attention to people who are in a dependence situation), it is necessary to design and manage programs promoting the personal autonomy including prevention, treatment and rehabilitation. Besides, education in health and autonomy values are a main part of the Well-Being integral attention. The aforementioned Law implies the necessity to establish actuations promoting healthy life conditions and specific preventive and rehabilitation programs addressed to the elder and disabled people. This project aims to develop a prevention and health promotion program addressed to the elder and their carers and which will work at different levels:

- Sanitary, with healthy prevention and promoting purposes.

- Social, promotion of social knowledge and civic education so improving the person social and communicative skills and,

- Functional, of intervention on the capacity to carry out daily activities, looking for the consequent repercution on the carer´s environment.

In this sense, we pretend to obtain a specialized information net in the attention to the elder and/or their informal carers and a feasible and efficient educational guide to improve their quality of life by promoting a healthy aging and putting prevention criteria before those of intervention.

2008-2009 • "ON LINE" RECORDING DEVICE FOR BIOMEDICAL PARAMETERS

- Resumen:

Actualmente, vivimos en una sociedad envejecida, donde un porcentaje importante de personas mayores viven solas. La edad es un condicionante del estado de salud, reflejando la vejez, de alguna manera, el resultado del estilo de vida anterior, donde aquellas personas con mejores hábitos llegaran en mejores condiciones que aquellos que no los han seguido de manera adecuada. Por ello, nos encontraremos personas mayores en condiciones de salud muy diferentes pero siempre con un incremento considerable, en relación a otros grupos etarios, de procesos morbosos que condicionarán que sean los mayores demandantes de atención sanitaria, consumiendo la mayor parte de los recursos sanitarios, que en la mayor parte de los casos se van a ver colapsados y con grandes listas de espera.

A fin de paliar en la medida de lo posible esta situación, con el proyecto que presentamos pretendemos aplicar los grandes avances de las TICs al campo de la atención sanitaria, mediante el desarrollo y puesta a punto de un sistema de recogida remota de parámetros biomédicos en el propio domicilio de la persona mayor, sin necesidad de intervención directa del personal sanitario. Los datos recogidos serán incorporados a una base de datos que permitirá su seguimiento y control por parte de los profesionales. Se desarrollarán un conjunto de aplicaciones que permitan la recogida, transmisión y análisis (tanto automatizado como manual) de datos, que serán testeados en el domicilio de una persona mayor.

En resumen, se pretende mejorar la red socio-sanitaria de apoyo domiciliario, mejorando la calidad de vida del entorno familiar y, a la vez, descongestionar los servicios sanitarios, mediante la monitorización y control domiciliario de diferentes parámetros biomédicos.

- Objetivos:

El objetivo general del proyecto es Desarrollar dispositivos para la recogida y monitorización continua on line de parámetros biomédicos adaptados a las personas mayores. Siendo objetivos específicos:

- La selección de un conjunto de dispositivos de recogida de parámetros médicos (presión arterial, pulso cardíaco, temperatura corporal, saturación de oxígeno) que sean usables por personas sin entrenamiento, siempre atendiendo a las necesidades especiales de las personas mayores y a la accesibilidad económica.

- El desarrollo de un sistema de recogida de parámetros médicos basado en estos dispositivos e integrables en TeleGerontología®.

- El desarrollo de un sistema on line de transmisión de parámetros biomédicos seguro y estándar.

- El desarrollo de un sistema que permita la visualización de los datos por parte del personal sanitario y el análisis automatizado de los mismos.

- La demostración del concepto de un servicio de estas características.

- Conclusiones:

En este proyecto, el desarrollo de un dispositivo que permite la medición de cuatro parámetros biomédicos desde el propio domicilio, sin necesidad de desplazarse, entendemos que aporta múltiples beneficios al entorno de la atención socio-sanitaria como serían:

a. Posibilidad de registrar los parámetros biomédicos sin necesidad de desplazarse del domicilio.

b. Comodidad y facilidad en los registros, de tal manera que el sistema ha sido diseñado para que la propia persona mayor aun viviendo sola sea capaz de manejarlo. Está demostrado que la usabilidad de un dispositivo es determinante para la aceptación y eficacia del mismo.

c. Posibilidad de hacer seguimiento longitudinal del paciente mediante el envío de la señal a un centro de control, detectando de esta manera las alteraciones en los registros (detección precoz) y la posibilidad de poner en marcha las medidas correctoras. Estas medidas de prevención permiten una mayor calidad de vida sin hospitalizaciones innecesarias.

d. Descarga de trabajo de los centros de salud en los seguimientos periódicos de las personas con patologías crónicas (Ej. Hipertensión arterial). Un profesional en el centro de control podría ser capaz de evaluar cientos de registros por día, con el consiguiente incremento del rendimiento sociosanitario.

e. Asimismo, estos seguimientos periódicos favorecen la tranquilidad del usuario al saberse monitorizado continuamente por un profesional, al tiempo que fomentan el progresivo empoderamiento por parte del paciente/usuario, al ser parte activa en el control de su evolución.

f. Disminución del gasto sanitario. Las TIC tienen un papel muy relevante en la sostenibilidad del sistema sanitario. La relación coste-beneficio del empleo de las TIC es una variable a tener en cuenta.

2008 • AGAD PROGRAM (Home Gerontologic Integral Support Program)

- Collaborators:

- Introduction:

The Association of Retired and Pensioners from A Coruña (UDP) in collaboration with Fondo Social-Caixa Galicia, starts up an Integral Program of Home Gerontologic Support (AGAD), addressed to dependent elder caregivers in the province of A Coruña. Specialists in the field of intervention with caregivers and old people will provide a home support that aims to improve the quality of life of the beneficiaries and create a long-lasting support network.

It will be a yearly program with the participation of different specialists in the field of the gerontology and geriatrics such as one social worker one physiotherapist and one occupational therapist, who will be coordinated from "La Milagrosa" Centre.

The program is addressed to patients with dementia and/or dependence and their family caregivers and it will consist of the following home personal services offered by the corresponding professionals:

- Physiotherapist: Musculoskeletal rehabilitation with intervention on back and neck pains, muscular overload..., and education in postural care and hygiene.

- Occupational therapist: Adaptation to environment, re-education in the basic daily life activities and education of the caregiver.

- Social worker: Attention to demands, support and socio-family advice; individual monitoring.

- Information and registration:

Due to limited vacancies, those people interested should contact:

Complejo Gerontológico La Milagrosa

Av. de Cádiz, n° 5.- 15.008 A Coruña

Tlf: 981-169075 / 981-169174 - Fax: 981 169131

Timetable: Mornings 10,00 to 14,00 hours.

2006-2007 • AVANZA ("On line" support to caregivers)

- Summary:

The lack of functional skills which affects different groups of people (physical and/or, intellectual disabilities, accidents..) but above all affects old people has generated an important sensibilization in the social and official agents which has been synthesized in the Bill of Promotion of the Personal Autonomy and Attention of Persons in Situation of Dependence which will probably start as the so-called "Law of Dependence" in the beginning of 2007. In its wording it will include the recognition of the task carried out by the families in the care of old dependent people.

Nowadays, people live longer and the age interferes in their capacity to take care of themselves. Hence, dependence becomes one of the main present problems based on the necessity to satisfy the demand of help, generally demanded by the family cares who represent 70% of the care structure.

The care load assumed by the family-carer, normally without the necessary professional skills to develop a suitable attention, can originate different alterations in their own health: physical, psychical or socio-labour. That´s why it will be fundamental to promote the home-support structure taking advantage of the resources at our disposal such as the new technologies (ICT).

The main aim of this project is to guarantee the participation of the old people in the Information Society, especially the disabled elderly by establishing an "on line" SUPPORT NET which will allow them to introduce themselves in the use of the ICT as suitable means for their social integration, for improving their quality of life and that of their carers and for improving the offered care itself; avoiding also the risk of institutionalization. All these improvements will positively affect the socio-sanitary system.

- Applied technology:

In this sense and according to the available support resources (insuffient and with a high cost of implementation), it is necessary to look for new alternatives which, at low cost, allow to maintain the balance in the binomio family carer-patient with dependency and preferably at home, natural habitat where most of the elders want to stay.

The project specific objectives include:

- To establish an "on line" system in pilot homes.

- To get involve with the users (disabled elders) and carers through an interaction with the assistencial center via the operation capacity of the following services: "on line" contents, cognitive stimulation, professional at home and tele-alarm.

- To valuate the intervention effects.

- To obtain a feasible "on line" support program.

With this project, we pretend to advance forward from the classical tele-assistance as it only consists of a 24 alarm system but with social coverage. The project we propose and which could be included among the gerontological resources fulfilling the "Design for everyone" standards, also includes training programs and continuously and unlimited assistance by experts facilitating the quality of the care and avoiding the early institutionalization; and all these offered at a very much lower cost than the rest of the at home support resources. These aspects support the socio-economic impact that such a resource might mean.

Regarding the territorial impact of the project, it is out of any doubt in the case of a Community such as Galicia due to the important number of people to which it is addressed with an important dissemination of the population. Besides, the resource we present does not have boudaries: everyone with an Internet connection available can benefit from it.

2006-2008 • GERONED (Needs detected by dependant people. Intervention models)

- Summary:

The development of the Spanish 4th Welfare State pillar, together with the setting up of the National System on Dependency will mainly affect the dependant people over 65; it is therefore necessary to face the development of this System taking into account that absolute needs do not exist but they depend on the environment and on an specific socio-cultural characterization. We then propose (by consulting experts (Delphi technique) and the affected people) the creation of a Model of Intervention for the Promotion of the Independence reflecting the real interests of this heterogeneous group. This Model of Intervention will be based on a differential study on the needs perceived/detected by this group in the Galician rural/urban areas taking into account the existing gender differences within this heterogeneous group.

- Methodology:

The target group will be constituted by a population fulfilling the following criteria: older than 65, dependant person according to Law specifications and living in an urban (> 5000 people) or rural (< 5000) population.

A Coruña is a town located in the northwest of Galicia with 243.349 inhabitants (INI. Municipal register, 2005); while the Council of Mondoñedo will be considered "rural" as the number of inhabitants according to the municipal register is below 5000 (García, 1997), 4863 in particular (INE. Municipal register of inhabitants, 2005).

We want to highlight that the selected people will be informed that according to the Organic Law 15/1999, December 13th, on Personal Data Protection, only those who clearly accept to participate will take part in this study. Moreover, they will also be informed about the Organic Law 15/1999 for their permission for their data to be included in a computerized file and their automated treatment.

The sample size will be established by proportional distribution taking into account the total population over 65 in each municipality (A Coruña, 44.137; Mondoñedo, 1.743) and particularly, the variables object of this study and which channel this project.

The sample will be stratified based on the following parameters: type of environment, which will be divided in rural/urban and gender: man/woman.

Due to the lack of specific data on dependant people over 65 in both municipalities, we have used the data from the eleventh chapter, referred to the Galician Autonomy (EDDE, 1999) considering the following regarding the municipalities object of this study:

2.001-10.000 inhabitants (case of Mondoñedo): 21'8% population of/over 65.

50.001-500.000 inhabitants (case of A Coruña): 30'1% population of/over 65.

Considering the above mentioned population over 65 in A Coruña and Mondoñedo, and the dependency percentages based on the municipality size, we deduce that 13.285 old dependant people are estimated to live in A Coruña, and 380 in the case of Mondoñedo.

From this data it can be determined that the size of the sample is established in 200 interviews in A Coruña and 70 in Modoñedo for a reliable level of 95,5% and p=q=0,05, guaranteeing a maximum error of 5%, and including all heterogeneity of the group object of the study.

Following criteria of representation will be considered when carrying out the semi-structured interviews and the consequent analysis: gender (more women interviewed than men due to the masculinity relation), institutionalization or residence at their own homes and cultural level.

On the other hand, and due to the features of the research techniques to be applied (Delphi Technique and semi-structured interviews), we consider convenient to use two types of sampling, both non-probability sampling.

Firstly, a quota or accidental sampling will be used for the selection of the Experts on Delphi Technique Panel, based on the good knowledge that the Gerontology Research Group has about the most representative or suitable population for the aims of the research. This previous knowledge comes from an important number of multidisciplinary projects and studies related with this concrete subject. In this type of non-probability sampling, with resemblances with the stratified random one, we will fix quotas consisting on an adequate number of individuals who have specific conditions related with their work and knowledge of the Galician dependant elder.

In this concrete case, we will choose a representative number of professionals and experts in old people, dependency, gender, etc of the Galician Community. The representation will be borne out depending on the presence of the professional collective in the different gerontological areas (public and private, academic, etc.).

Secondly, to carry out the semi-structured interviews to dependant elder in A Coruña and Mondoñedo, we will use other type of non-random sampling, in particularly, that known as casual or incidental sampling in which the research Group will directly select the individuals for the study. As previously explained, besides the methodical adaptation with the data collection, we will use this procedure due to the facility for the access to the individuals.

The way of collecting data will be by interviews with semi-structured questions followed by an interview aimed to evaluate the quality of life and the perceived needs (Aguado, 2003) already used in eleven Spanish Autonomous Communities. These interviews will be video-recorded for a more detailed later analysis because as it is known in Social Sciences, the most correct way to analyse the perceived demands is by the speech analysis.

Regarding the project limitations, they have to do with the net coordination and establishment for the carrying out of the interviews and Delphi questionnaire; besides, it must be taken into account the communication difficulties derived from the type of dependency suffered by the selected people. For all the above, some kind of dependency may prevail over others.

Nevertheless, and considering both aspects we have developed a contingency plan by which the first handicap will be solved by the establishment of agreements for the carrying out of the foreseen techniques with associations, gerontology centres and remaining institutions in municipalities of similar characteristics as those of A Coruña and Mondoñedo.

The second possible problem can be solved by asking a questionnaire as hoc to the main caregivers in those cases in which the communication with the elder is extremely difficult or in cases of deep cognitive deterioration.

2005-2007 • TELEGERONTOLOGÍA® (Design, elaboration and validation of a new on-line caring resource addressed to the elderly)

- Financed by:

- Collaborators:

- Introduction:

It is a new resource of home support addressed to elder people and/or persons with functional and/or cognitive loss. It´s born thanks to the evolution of the classic tele-assistance basing its development in the great advances in the communication and information technologies.

Following the basic principles of gerontological attention, TELEGERONTOLOGÍA® favours cognitive valuations "on-line" and personalize the therapeutic actuations.

And all this through a conventional telephone line, the TV set and a "home bridge" of self development.

- Functionalities at present:

The possibility to transmit rehabilitation sessions.

The possibility to have live consultations.

The possibility to carry out cognitive intervention.

The possibility to do emergency calls.

- Functions under development:

The domotic control.

The bio-medical parameters control.

The localization of users via GPS.

- What have we done up to now?:

To develop the residential bridge. (Integration of new technologies (ICT) in daily life, audio-visual communication centre/user, use of conventional home TV set, new necessities: possibilities of future growth. Galician design, development and manufacture).

To develop the management applications: Geropad (Allows to eliminate barriers user/services, ergonomics and easy use, functional requirements, accessibility: physical, sensorial and cognitive).

To develop the browser device.

To develop the telealarm-finder system.

To develop the application of cognitive tele-stimulation.

- What is still left?:

The integration of biomedical and domotic devices, improvement of some functionalities and economical resources to continue with development.

- Conclusions:

New resource of gerontological attention.

Possibility to keep people at their own homes for more time with a 24 hours/day, 365 days/year support.

Fully developed in Galicia.

Consortium of entities.

In collaboration with the administration.

No distance limit (INTERNET).

2002-2003 • MENTAL DISABILITY (Research, development and innovation projects connected with the strategic action on ageing)

- Introduction:

In parallel with the increase of life expectancy in the developed countries, the advances in the health and social fields have favoured that more and more people with intellectual disabilities reach ages above 30 and 40. Estimates are that more than 60 million people all over the world may have some king of disability and that within the next decades this group of population will even increase outliving their parents in most of the cases.

In 1992, The American Society on Mental Retardation (AAMR) published the definition, classification and systems of support to people with this disability. With that publication started a period of deep study on the knowledge of the adaptive behaviour, the philosophy of the support services and of the good practice in the mental retardation (MR). This concept is used to identify the low intellectual and adaptive functional level of a person.

The AAMR defines the MR as a disability characterized by significant limitations both in intellectual functioning and in adaptive behaviour as expressed in conceptual, social, and practical adaptive skills. This disability originates before age 18.

A person behaviour is determined by the answer -based on his capacities, to the stimulus received from his environment. In the MR, the limitation refers to the functioning, not to the individual, in accordance with the interaction of the limited capacities of the person with his environment. This conceptualization is specially designed to outline and plan the supports needed by a specific person in a specific environment, as well as to improve his functioning or quality of life within his environment.

- Reference framework:

In general terms, researchers have paid very little attention to the elderly population suffering from mental retardation. Demographic studies find the difficulty of delimiting this population group according to their age. Though calculations of the population size of old people with deficiency go from 0,5 to 3% of total population, a reasonable projection of the number of old people with mental retardation is 0,39%, which means 4/1000 old persons of the world population. According to data provided by the INE (census 1996), 5% of Spanish population with mental retardation are over 65 years old (the percentage would double if including population between 50 and 65). In 1999, the INE made a survey on disability, deficiency and health condition of the Spanish population. Mental retardation rates according to age were 4, 39/1000 for people between 6 and 64 and 0, 84/1000 for people over 65.

If we consider the population sex, women proportion was higher than men in advanced ages, which means that life expectancy in groups with mental retardation is higher in women. These data coincide with those provided by the WHO (World Health Organization) for people with intellectual disability world wide.

- Situation of people with intellectual disability (ID) in the ageing process:

The characteristics of the people with mental retardation are at the same time equal and different from those of the people over 65 in general. Physical ageing, biological changes and service needs are similar to those for the elders. The differences are better explained by the retardation they have suffered during all their life than by their age. Anyway, everyone lives his own ageing process so the variability of the ageing process is the constant in all individuals. This process also differs depending on the origin and type of mental retardation. These people suffer an acceleration of the physiological ageing process so we find people who become old at early ages. This premature ageing justifies that several authors have established 45 as the age of initiation of the ageing process for this group. Besides, the fact that the mortality rate in people over 45 is so high in the mentally retarded persons has contributed to establish this age as the ageing initiation.

If ageing is already a handicap in the present society, it will be even more if the person suffers mental retardation as it may imply a double risk of being sent to an institution. Very often when becoming old, the necessity of help for each autonomous aspect and in particular for everyday life activities comes up.

- Health in persons with ID:

The elders normally have a more delicate health condition due to illnesses and looses associated to ageing. It is well-known that people with mental retardation suffer more physical problems because of their genetic problems, brain damages and life style imposed by their social disadvantages. Furthermore, normal physical problems associated to ageing must be added. Old people with mental retardation have significant higher rates of psychiatric diseases as compared with younger adults with mental retardation, mainly due to the appearance of dementia. Dementia rates are much higher in persons with mental retardation as compared with general population of the same age. Moss considers that people over 50 with mental retardation have better health conditions than those who die younger due to the differential mortality. This means that more young people die with deeper mental retardation and multiple physical disabilities. Cooper shows his disagreement with Moss´ hypothesis by suggesting that even if a deeper mental retardation increases the probability of dying young, the effects of the advanced age on the physical health overpass the effects of this differential mortality. Some investigations have been carried out comparing the physical health of young adults and old people with mental retardation. They have shown a high rate of mobility problems in the old people (32, 1%). In Holland, Evenhuis found in a 10 years longitudinal study that the cancer incidence in old people with ID was similar as compared with the general population of the same age. Mobility problems had a high prevalence (58%). Arthritis and orthopaedic problems show up in percentages of 48, 55%. High percentages of cardiovascular problems show up in the most aged persons. Hypothyroidism is more frequent in the elders with mental retardation as compared to general population. Breath diseases are also more common in the elders with MR. Incontinence is a common symptom in people with MR, especially in those suffering the most severe version what suggests that the physical effects of advanced age have a bigger impact on the incontinence than the intellectual level. The aforementioned study carried out by Cooper (1998) shows a higher percentage of cerebrovascular and hypertension diseases in the group of old people with MR than in the young people with MR. Epilepsy was found in 25% of persons with advanced age against 20% in the youngest group. In summary, if we compare the elderly people with MR with the general population, the elders with MR represent a higher percentage of cerebrovascular diseases, epilepsy and Parkinson disease. Elders with intellectual dementia consume more medicines for physical diseases such as HTA, constipation, bronchospasm, cardiovascular diseases, etc, being more frequent the comsuption of psychotropic drugs by the younger.

- Health cares and promotion in the elders with ID:

Present studies on the quality of life suggest going deeper in the factors which contribute to improve the person welfare and in the psychological processes which contribute to face the deterioration and which lead the person to satisfaction and felicity. Nowadays, research efforts are intended to "add life to years, instead of add years to life". Attention is paid to the experience of the individual himself, his participation in the control of his life, his health and the ill processes. People with intellectual disability who get old belong to a family and social care system which is not adapted to the ageing process; at present, they face an ageing process within the family environment with important deficiencies in the support system. In the future, people with ID will live longer and will enjoy their ageing with more dignity and more health and welfare levels. Research in the field of the mental health points out the importance of the person to develop his life according to his interests and to show his self-determination. Hogg and Lambe suggest an ecologic ageing model for old people with intellectual disability in which the relation with the family, the available community support, the social context and the services they received from the society play an important role. Research developed up to now in the intellectual disability field points out that the individuals must develop their life according to their personal motivations and their interests.

Evenhuis H et al. adds several recommendations to enhance the health of people with ID in the ageing process. He specially mentions the necessity of the primary attention services to start with health promotion programmes aimed to prevent illnesses, maintain the functional capacity and improve their quality of life. Emerson et al. consider the promotion of health in the family and the community as the most adequate way to improve the ID people welfare. Several studies have been published up to today which focus their attention in the health promotion and in the development of health educational and prevention programmes. Same line follows the prevention works on gynaecological and breast cancer in women with ID made by Davies, N in the primary attention services. There have been few attempts to have guidebooks for the health care and promotion of the disabled people. It must be highlighted the guidebook for the health care of Down Symptom and the Guide developed by the research group in Edinburgh on dementia in people with ID. In year 2000, the WHO (World Health Organization) together with the IASSID (International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual Disabilities) studied several aspects of ageing in people with ID giving some recommendations in the sense of promoting the physical condition of these people by the establishment of priorities in health care, research and education. Among these recommendations we found the necessity to develop Health promoting programs, design prevention strategies that favour healthy life styles with enough social support as to avoid restrictions in the participation of the community and with the maximum family support. People with ID and their carers must know and apply healthy practices on nutrition, hygiene, reduction in medicine abuse, sex and others.

Health promotion programs from primary attention must be aimed to minimize dependence and provide old people and their carers with capacities and strategies in order to minimize the risks for their health. A great number of persons with ID live in the community and rarely use the primary sanitary services. This might be due to the fact that they think the family doctors do not have the capacity to face and solve their problems. These difficulties to use the sanitary services justify the development of care programs addressed to persons suffering ID. Up to today there are no experiences in this field in Spain even though the population ageing has increased the sensibility towards this age group within the families, associations and professionals.

It is well admitted that the old person has a learning and recovery capacity. People with MR also have these capacities so they are candidates to participate in intervention programmes aimed to provide them with a satisfactory ageing.

- General objectives:

1.- Face the intervention with people suffering intellectual disability and in the ageing process as a whole.

2.- Improve the quality of life of the implied groups: family, person with ID and society in general.

3.- Sensitize the society and the administration on the problem of this more and more numerous group.

- Specific objectives:

1.- Identify the necessities and the priority health problems of this group of population.

2.- Elaborate specific actuations aimed to solve the detected problems, reinforcing the social intervention in health.

3.- Favour the development of personal skills so they can assume responsibilities in their own care.

4.- Favour a change of attitude of the professionals so they take into account the social conditions affecting the health-illness process.

5.- Promote suitable physical and social environments looking for pleasant, healthy and satisfactory life, work and leisure conditions for the intellectually disabled people in the ageing process.

- Methodology:

- Desing: The study will consist of two phases; the first to be between June and December 2002 and the second during year 2003. The first phase (June-December 2002) will focus on the valuation of the health condition of the population to be studied by a retrospective, descriptive and transversal observational study. It will be an aleatory sample of people with ID that participate in activities in special centres; they will be stratified according to age and sex. During the second phase (January-December 2003), of intervention, a number of health promotional activities will be implemented aimed to correct or reduce the alterations found in the first phase.

- Sample: 1st Phase (June-December 2002) of health diagnosis: Target sample will be formed by people over 45 in ageing process with intellectual disability living in Galicia; included in the associations which help people with physical disabilities, care centres, employment centres and occupational assistance centres. From this target sample, a representative sample will be aleatory selected stratified according to the type of care centre, age quinquennium and sex.

2nd Phase (January-December 2003) will be of intervention. The population to be studied will be a subset of the referenced population that fulfil the inclusion criteria. From this subset, two aleatory groups will be made stratified according to the centre, age and sex.

- Inclusion criteria:

1.- To be 45 years old or more.

2.- To be in possession of the handicap Certificate issued by the IMSERSO Valuation and Orientation Equipment which recognizes a person as a mentally retarded disabled one.

3.- To be included in the concept of person with mental retardation by the AAMR (American Association on Mental Retardation).

- Variables to be estudied:

1.- General aspects: reference will be made to the population deficiencies, age, sex, etc.

2.- Functional aspects: the aim is to know and classify the level of independence to carry out the instrumental and basic activities of daily life.

3.- Medical valuation of all corporal systems.

4.- Psychological valuation.

5.- Valuation of the nutritional condition.

6.- Pharmacological record. Data on consumption of alcohol and drugs will be also obtained.

- Data analysis:

Preparation of a data base adapted to the studied variables. Descriptive and analytic study using a statistic analysis program on Health Sciences (SPSS version 11 for Windows).

 

2016-2018 • Frailty Study (FrailNet)

- Funds: Xunta de Galicia

- Participants: Gerontology Research Group at the University of A Coruña, Institute of Biomedical Research of A Coruña (INIBIC), Research Group on Behavioral and Molecular Diagnosis Applied to Health (DICOMOSA-UDC), Applied Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychogerontology Research Group (NeuCogA-Aging-USC), the HealthyFit Group (HI22-UVIGO) and Dependence, Gerontology and Geriatric Group (Dependencia-USC)

- Budget: 120.000 €

- Summary:

General Secretary of Universities (Regional Government) and the Galician Innovation Agency (GAIN) has awarded a grant of 120,000 Euros over the next three years to the Galician Network for the Frailty Study (FrailNet). FrailNet is coordinated by the Gerontology Research Group at the University of A Coruña and Institute of Biomedical Research of A Coruña (INIBIC) and includes the following partners: Research Group on Behavioral and Molecular Diagnosis Applied to Health (DICOMOSA-UDC), Applied Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychogerontology Research Group (NeuCogA-Aging-USC), the HealthyFit Group (HI22-UVIGO) and Dependence, Gerontology and Geriatric Group (Dependencia-USC).

2012-2015 • VERISAUDE (Efectividad de la VGI y seguimiento longitudinal en la promoción del envejecimiento saludable)

- Funds:

- Participants:

- Budget: 95.926 €

- Summary:

The Comprehensive Gerontological Assessment is a useful tool to know the needs of the older people and to establish a descriptive frame of their needs in order to promote socio-sanitary measures and practical recommendations aimed to improve their quality of life and promote their active ageing from a multidimensional point of view (cognitive, emotional, functional, social...).

By means of a prospective detailed longitudinal study which allows the analysis of the dependence causality, the VERISAÚDE project tries to identify the reality of the gerontological assessment in the Galician older population belonging to different groups and associations, with the aim to identify those needs and establish the recommendations that a socio-sanitary policy addressed to the elderly must take into account when facing the ageing of the population.

This longitudinal follow-up allows the identification of the dependence risk and protective factors, and therefore, to intervene on the elders´ quality of life.

2005-2007 • FOLSTEIN (Communication and information technologies program)

- Project coordinated with:

- Summary:

The increased number of aged people and the fact of women´s incorporation to the labour market are changing the traditional way of taking care of the elderly who in the past, used to stay at their homes. Nowadays, it is more and more common to send them to institutions due to the lack of time to devote to their assistance. In this sense, we, professionals on this field know that the families assume the compromise of the elder care as long as it does not overpass their capacity. The moment they fill they cannot stand for more, they start to think in other resources. These resources are up to now insufficient and do not cover the basic objective of the socio-sanitary attention: to maintain the old person at home via suitable support formulas.

That´s why it is necessary to step forward in the present resources routine -focused on residences, day care centres and home assistance on domestic service and the Tele-assistance; and go forward in the configuration of new alternatives that allo the family carers to contribute to the system sustenance. This is the project we pretend to develop, i.e., the home diffusion of products and services adapted to the elderly people through the television set. This is one step more within the tele-assistance but clearly differentiated and developed. It was born with the main objective of maintaining the old person in his natural habitat -delaying as much as possible the necessity to send him to a care institution.

The project consists of two different elements:

- Development of hardware, which includes the bridge to convert the telephone signal in a digital signal visible in any television monitor with the possibility to be remote controlled and to include the different connections for the contents complementary peripherals (biometric determinations, domotic, tele-alarm, etc). Also the remote control device with an ergonomic and simple design to navigate in Internet.

- Development of software including the designed contents for the gerontology. In this project it will include a cognitive tele-stimulation application of own development, a system of videoconference rehabilitation sessions from a referenced centre (La Milagrosa - A Coruña), an interactive vision system to be seen by different ageing expert professionals (i.e. the family doctor), as well as other contents of interest for this group (tourism, health, leisure time, etc).

In summary, the project we present -once developed in all its phases, will have an own identity within the gerontology services catalogue.

2004-2007 • DISCOGNITIOS
2002-2004 • SOFTWARE SENIOR
2002 • GERONET (Program for the elders integration in the new information technologies)

- Introduction:

In the recent years there is a clear progressive ageing of the European population that is more evident in some of the Spanish Autonomous Communities such as Galicia, which presents a global ageing percentage of 19,3 but turns to more than 25% if we refer to the inner provinces (Lugo and Ourense).

In the present society, average life expectancy is about 80 so the "elderly" concept covers a wide number of years. This period cannot be seen as a passive period any longer but new methods are necessary to be found in order to achieve a successful ageing , i.e., improve the quality of life in their widest sense and consider the access to the new technologies as a tool with a great future.

Computers, no doubt, can become a very useful service for the elderly people. In fact, computer systems can provide lots of advantages for this group of people. The elders can face the social and personal isolation because by using computers and internet, they can continue being "in contact" with society, even without leaving their homes. By this, they avoid loneliness through the communication with any part of the world, promoting social relations from the distance and within their own environment.

Computers can favour creativity, the auto perception of being alive or "active", makes possible to open new communication channels, stimulates the intellect and thus, delays the cognitive deterioration effects. In summary, computers and internet can become an alternative for the elderly people leisure time improving their self-esteem and by their integration in the society.

The professionals have realized these benefits so for some years ago, computer courses for the elders are being nationally promoted. These courses have some special characteristics and deal with the different computer aspects in a very basic, relaxed, and active way.

The project we present here pretends to be the continuation of a project currently under development named AgoraSenior. Up to now, the fulfilled objectives have to do with the identification of the elders´ needs, the barriers that impede the satisfaction of these detected needs and the determination of the needs to be solved regarding ICT (Communication and Information Technologies).

In the future, the goals to be fulfilled will be those aimed to measure the evaluation criteria, to analyse the existing technological solutions to be studied, to evaluate those collaborative tools, to do the fieldwork on the practical skills over a sample of the studied population and finally, to design and create the graphic and functional interface and to select the contents and services to put at the elders disposal.

The purpose of this project is the development of a graphic functional interface and structure, the selection of contents and the start up of a Web portal adapted to the elderly group.

- Objetives:

The basic objectives pursued with this work are focused on the following questions:

- To obtain information about the necessities and demands of the elderly group in order to create a Web portal adapted to such needs.

- To detect those factors that impede the satisfaction of the needs and solve them as far as possible.

- To maximize the expectations of success of the web portal with regard to its objective public.

- To contribute to the improvement of their quality of life through the access to the new technologies perfectly adapted to their needs and limitations.

- To improve the communication and accessibility of this group to the new computer technologies.

- To attain this portal to be a new service at the elders´ disposal for their leisure and spare time.

- To optimize the product competitiveness.

The functionality of the final product is based on three key aspects: to study the needs and demands of the elderly people taking into account the existing bibliography on the subject, the opinion of professionals on the gerontology field and the "elderly" own opinion from a general vision of the society.

To know the elders´ opinion about the new technologies and in particular about Internet with the elaboration of a specific questionnaire and the start up of a pilot study old person-computer.

To develop and check an interface adapted to the sensorial and physical limitations caused by ageing and specially adapted to the modifications of the sight, tactile and hearing senses.

To evaluate the results obtained by these pilot studies with the aim to correct design errors -if occurred.

The creation and start up of a definitive portal Web, from and for the elders, taking into account their physical, psychical, functional and social limitations.

Evaluative study of the start up and functioning of the created portal. Detection of possible errors and defects in order to constantly and progressively improve the portal operation to facilitate its access.

- Project benefits:

After the consecution of its objectives, this project will mean that a wide group of population such as "the elderly" who do not have contact with the new technological advances have access to a Web page specially designed and created for them taking into account their needs. This way, the elders will have a product that will allow them to access to more information as well as enable them to participate in its elaboration with a bigger accessibility and communication facility.

2002 • AGORASENIOR (Graphic and functional interface of a galician web portal for the elderly people)

General Secretariat of Research and Development

- Introduction:

The progressive ageing of the Spanish population is more and more evident in most of the Autonomous Communities with percentages over 15%. If we refer to Galicia- according to the last data provided by the Galician Statistics Institute (IGE) based on the 1998 census, these percentages are over 19,3% in relative terms and more than 530.000 persons if absolute terms with a very high ageing rate (94,57%) and a disable percentage of more than 30%. This fact should force the society to satisfy the demanded needs of this group taking into account the different social and sanitary environments as well as the technological innovation.

The elderly group presents a number of specific characterisitcs related to their physical, psychical, social and functional aspects. It is well-known that during the ageing process, a number of morpho-functional changes occur that imply a detriment in the function aspect. Thus, it is likely that an old person will have more problems to adapt to the technological advances than a young person. Besides, as time passes by, sight, hearing, the tactile capacity and the taste and smell senses decrease, fact taht reduces that knowledge capacity and initiative to incorporate to the new technologies.

For this reason, the Gerontology Research Group (GRG), belonging to the Department of Medicice (University of A Coruña) in collaboration with a Technological Centre (CESGA), a company (EIDOMEDIA) and a group of old people (Association of Pensioners and Retired People of A Coruña) pretend to initiate, through the Technological Development and Research Galician Plan, the development of an Internet Portal. The idea is that the elders, independently of their limitations, can participate in its construction and their opinions, deficiencies and limitations in the environmental perception are taken into account. This characteristic makes our project different from other conventional initiatives elaborated by other institutions and addressed to this same group but without taking their peculiarities into account.

In the present society, average life expectancy is about 80 so the "elderly" concept covers a wide number of years. This period cannot be seen as a passive period any longer but new methods are necessary to be found in order to achieve a successful ageing, i.e., improve the quality of life in their widest sense and consider the access to the new technologies as a tool with a great future.

- Objetives:

General objective of this project is the improvement of the quality of life for the elderly through the access to the new technologies perfectly adapted to their needs and limitations. For this, we need to start from a number of more specific objectives that could be established as follows:

- To know the elders´ opinion about the new technologies and in particular about Internet with the elaboration of a specific questionnaire and the start up of a pilot study old person-computer.

- To develop and check an interface adapted to the sensorial and physical limitations caused by ageing and specially adapted to the modifications of the sight, tactile and hearing senses.

- To evaluate the results obtained by these pilot studies with the aim to correct design errors -if occurred.

- To facilitate the elders the access to the new information technologies.

- Applicability:

The attainment of foreseen objectives will allow a wide group of population (normally outside the technological advances environment) to access to more information as well as to participate in its elaboration. In practice, the society will see how an aged society as ours improves maintaining the old people active.

- Methodology:

It will be necessary to work with an elderly group which constitute a representative sample of the population.

1.- Once analysed these results, we will proceed with the empiric study of the use of the existing technology.

2.- We will carry out an analysis of the interview and the behaviour developed in the handling of the different internet portals and gerontology web pages.

3.- It will be made a description of the difficulties and problems detected in the use of these technologies. This description will be of help in the future design of a suitable web portal.

- Conclusions:

Following are the conclusions reached after the fieldwork:

- Old population does not have education or knowledge in computers nor connects to internet. There are many old people who "know" what a computer is, they have seen one sometime but have never used them.

- People who say that they have a computer at home , they have it but never use it because it belongs to their children or grandchildren who live with them.

- Many times, the old people who go to educational centres to learn about computers have a personal computer at home but they don´t "dare" to use it by themselves and nobody supports them to do it (they are afraid of damaging such "an expensive" device).

- There is a big difference if we consider the level of education of the elders and their desire to learn. From our point of view, an old person with a medium-high educational and cultural level has more desire to learn than a person with a basic level, which are the majority. For this reason, we believe that the persons to which we should address, apart from professionals and family, must be old people with a medium educational level and above all, willing to learn.

- It also exists a relative difference considering learning desires between the persons under 78 and those older. People over 78 got old in a time when the new technologies had not been installed in our society yet. On the other hand, people under 78 are getting old and have lived their active life in a society already in contact with these new technologies (freezers, computers, microwaves, etc.).

- Regarding accessibility , most of the sample does not answer the questions because they have never worked with a computer. Those who answer the questions do it in an affirmative way in most of the cases. Some of the remarks are related with the computer accessories such as the keyboard and mouse. About the keyboard they think that it should be bigger with more separated keys and also bigger words (something logic if we take into account the visual difficulties of this group). On the mouse, the most common comment is the difficulties they found in its handling.

- Regarding links, the most numerous opinion is that they should be more intuitive, simple and easy to see at first sight.

- The elders like pages with very clear and of quality images. They consider them a lot more interesting.

 

 

 

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