[LMB] Dementia

Marc Wilson marc.wilson at gmx.co.uk
Tue Dec 14 11:11:41 GMT 2021

On Mon, 13 Dec 2021 20:23:00 +0000, Joel Polowin <jpolowin at hotmail.com>

>Raymond Collins <rcrcoll6 at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Dementia is a terrible thing. I had friends who've I've lost to dementia. I
>> just hope things won't get worse. All that is great about a person seems to
>> diminish with dementia,  and it's only the reminiscence of who that person
>> was is what we should hold on to the most. I hope,  under the
>> circumstances, that your Mother-in-law finds peace.
>A few years ago, I went to a memorial service for one of my high-school
>teachers.  Her family told us that she had been suffering for a couple
>of decades from Alzheimer's, which had been expressed in a particularly
>ugly form.  It was only after a couple of months that her family had
>been able to really start remembering the wonderful mother, artist,
>and musician.
>There is a thing that I want to exist.  I don't have the skills to do
>it, nor the spoons to try to organize it.
>My sweetie has been hospitalized many times over the decade that we've
>been together.  A number of times, she's been stuck sharing a room
>with someone who's been confused from dementia.  Even when she hasn't,
>it's almost always possible to hear someone yelling in some nearby
>room, and clearly suffering from some kind of dementia.  They don't
>understand where they are, much less why they're there.  A nurse can try
>to re-orient them, but that only lasts a few minutes, since they can't
>retain the information.
>One time, my sweetie was sharing her room with an extremely frail old
>woman, who kept calling out to "Margaret" in her weak whispery voice.
>"Is my oxygen on?  Margaret?  Are you there?  Is my oxygen okay?"  It
>was heartbreaking.  (Notwithstanding that my twisted brain immediately
>jumped to "Are you there, Margaret?  It's me, God.")  Our attempts to
>reassure her lasted only minutes.
>It occurred to me that what she *really* needed was some kind of
>automated system that would recognize the spoken word "oxygen" and tell
>her that it was fine.
>And from there came the idea.  A voice recognition, or speech
>recognition, that could parse what such a patient was saying, just
>enough to pick out a few words or phrases, and reply with reassurance.
>"Where am I?"  or "What's going on?" could respond with "You're in
>the hospital and you're going to be okay."  Do it with the voice of a
>loved one, recorded for the purpose.  Parsing the voice of a patient
>would be complicated by the difficulty of getting consistent sound, the
>impossibility of doing "training" of the system with a standard set of
>phrases, and poor enunciation on the part of the patient.  The problem
>would be simplified by not needing to recognize a large vocabulary;
>it wouldn't necessarily even need to pick out *words* as long as sound
>patterns were consistent enough -- if a mumbled "oxygen" always sounds
>about the same, it would be enough to recognize the sound pattern.
>It shouldn't require fancy hardware, by current standards.  This is
>basically an audible version of the old "Eliza" programs: scan the
>input for patterns, and choose a stock sound clip to play in response.
>There's no great AI leap needed.  It seems to me that it should be
>possible to run it on a fairly cheap phone, tablet, or laptop.
>It would save a lot of effort on the part of nurses, and others who have
>to care for people with severe dementia.  It would also provide a great
>deal of comfort to the patients.  I've run the idea past nurses, and
>they love it.  My sweetie, a dementia specialist herself, thinks it's
>a great idea.  She thinks it might be possible to get funding for the
>development from Alzheimer's and other dementia foundations.  I'd like
>to see the thing available for free, at least as far as the software
>goes, and working on as many different platforms as possible.  Make it
>as available as possible for people who don't have a lot of resources.
>If anyone can suggest what I can do towards getting someone to do
>something with the concept, I'd appreciate it.  I just have almost no
>"push" left in me.  Basically, I'd like to hand the idea off to someone
>who will recognize it as being in the public interest, and get it done.

It seems to me that this is something that could run on quite low-end
software, possibly something as simple as a Raspberry Pi.

https://www.raspberrypi.com/ for those who haven't come across this

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understand they're watching science fiction.  - John Oliver

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