European H2020 ICT Project MARIO: Managing active and healthy aging with use of caring service robots

MARIO Project addresses the difficult challenges of loneliness, isolation and dementia in older persons through innovative and multi-faceted inventions delivered by service robots. The effects of these conditions are severe and life-limiting. They burden individuals and societal support systems. Human intervention is costly but the severity can be prevented and/or mitigated by simple changes in self-perception and brain stimulation mediated by robots.

Europe has the highest prevalence of dementia in the world; seven million people are currently affected and this is projected to increase to 13.4 million by 2050.

Across EU countries, participation of people with dementia in family and civic life is diminished by cultures of exclusion and stigmatisation. There is growing awareness within Europe about the importance of empowering the person with dementia (PWD) within communities to promote social inclusion, enhance personhood and build resilience.

Dementia is characterised by impaired mental functioning, language and thinking. These impairments are often accompanied by personality, functional and behavioural changes. Current health care strategies are insufficient to cope with this epidemic and the reality is that dementia care is under‐prioritised and neglected.

Exclusionary attitudes towards PWD have led them to be seen as incapable, without personhood resulting in isolation, stigma and poor care outcomes. ICT solutions can be used to increase psychological skills like resilience. Moreover, ICT solutions are increasingly pervasive in a holistic and comprehensive approach that benefits not only patients/end users but caregivers and medical staff.

MARIO addresses the difficult challenges of loneliness and isolation in older persons living with dementia through innovative and multi-faceted inventions delivered by service robots. Building upon the Kompai robotic platform, the project develops new functionalities, assessment approaches and interaction capabilities for this platform. The goal is to improve the quality of life, quality of care and safe independent time at home, nursing home and during hospitalization for aging individuals living with dementia.

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