THE EUROPEAN PROJECT EHCOBUTLER: A SELF-LEARNING ICT PLATFORM FOR ELDERLY WITH AND WITHOUT COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT
According to the WHO, between 2015 and 2050 the proportion of the world's population over 60 years will nearly double, from 12% to 22% (WHO, 2015). Aging is often associated with either physical or cognitive impairment. In fact, according to Prince et al. (2013), the standardized prevalence of dementia over 60 years varied between 5% and 7% in most world regions. Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is an intermediate state between normal cognition and dementia. A prevalence range of MCI varies from 3% to 19% in elderly; and more than a half are estimated to progress to dementia within 5 years (Gauthier et al., 2006).
Therefore, an important challenge is to improve the independence and quality of life of elderly people, prevent a greater cognitive impairment and also to promote their health in different ways.
Several programs, experiences, policies, and initiatives have been implemented to promote personal autonomy for the elderly and to improve their quality of life (e.g. NICE–SCIE Guidelines, 2007). The use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) can provide several advantages; in fact, there are already many works in this field (e.g., Castilla et al., 2013; Etchemendy et al., 2009; Gamberini et al., 2009; Lauriks et al., 2007).
The ehcoBUTLER project funded with support from the Horizon2020 (PHC-20-2014) of the European Commission emerged with the aim to develop an innovative ICT-platform that would improve the health and social care of elderly people, especially those with mild cognitive impairment, through self-learning and with the system support. The Consortium is formed by a group of public and private organizations: Everis, CIBER, Telefonica, INTRAS Foundation, and Idea SL from Spain; National Foundation for the Elderly from the Netherlands; YourDATA and Aima Napoli Onlus Association from Italy; Mobili from Slovenia; E-Seniors Association from France; VIDAVO from Greece; ASISTEL from Serbia; and Clalit Health Services from Israel.
ehcoBUTLER offers an innovative platform with a friendly interface that contains both leisure and care educational apps for the elderly population, facilitating and promoting self-learning. In addition, the platform is also provided with a module of cognitive training in order to help the users with MCI..
The ehcoBUTLER platform will be tested in seven different countries: Italy, France, Serbia, Israel, Greece, Spain, and Netherlands, in order to demonstrate the socio-economic benefits of the platform and the utility of this tool to improve the memory, wellbeing, autonomy, and quality of life of the elderly population through self-learning.
One of the strengths is the versatility and flexibility of this platform to be exploited by different organization types and its scalability for the whole European Market. Some of the key results expected from the implementation of the platform are: breaking the technological barrier between the elderly and the ICTs by creating a platform adapted to the elderly, taking into account ergonomics and usability issues; improving the wellbeing of the elderly users by providing them with psychological and cognitive techniques and support procedures inside the ehcoBUTLER platform; generating an ecosystem for apps to integrate both leisure and healthcare activities, integrating the healthcare in daily activities; and developing several ad-hoc features adapted to specific needs of the elderly with cognitive impairment.