UK to try Israeli technology for Alzheimer's

By Robyn Rosen, November 26, 2010

A computer program developed by Israeli therapists to "stabilise and slow down" Alzheimer's has been introduced to UK Jewish charities.

The program, called Savion, was designed by occupational therapists at Melabev, a day-care facility for Alzheimer's patients in Israel.

Motti Zelikovitch, director general of Melabev, met UK care providers, including Jewish Care and Nightingale, in south London last week.

Mr Zelikovitch said: "Savion came from 10 years of working with patients. It was born out of therapies, not from academic research."

It is a simple computer program that uses colours and sounds found by research to relax patients. It has four ways to stimulate the brain: through maths, words, shapes and memories.

"These exercises are difficult on paper," he said. "A computer program makes it easier because the answer comes to the person on the screen rather than writing it."

He praised the current therapy offered to Alzheimer's patients in the UK. "We were very impressed with the therapies here," he said, "but they can be improved.

"For example, we use native languages to speak to people with Alzheimer's because we find that some people forget a language they have learnt in the past few years and go back to speaking the way they did when they were children. It's easier to speak to them in this language.

"We also bring animals for them to play with as we find this gets their mind going."

Savion, which costs around $150 (£95) and is used alongside a therapist, has had a "positive" response from Jewish charities, as well as the Alzheimer's Society and Alzheimer's Disease International, and Mr Zelikovitch said he hoped it would be available in the UK in a matter of months.

Last updated: 10:51am, November 26 2010