Luci, a Quebec application to prevent Alzheimer’s disease

This text is part of the special Aging Well, Staying Young booklet

Nearly one million Canadians could be affected by dementia by 2030, according to the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada. To reduce risk factors, a Get started Montrealer and a team of researchers have joined forces to develop an application to help people adopt healthy living habits more sustainably.

“Lucie was 75 years old when she started suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, lost her abilities, forgot people’s names, her behavior changed”, sadly recalls Marc-André Chagnon, president of Get started Lucilab. Lucie is her grandmother, who died in 2014. As a young adult, she remembers the feeling of powerlessness of her grandfather, someone who acted accustomed to looking for solutions to problems. The latter became a caregiver, before Lucilab was founded to fight Alzheimer’s disease. “Illness has a devastating effect on their marriage! How life changes! said Marc-André Chagnon, who has since succeeded his grandfather within the company.

In Canada, more than 500,000 people have neurocognitive disorders, a number that will nearly double in the next decade, according to the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada. The costs of mental illnesses are estimated at more than 10 billion dollars per year in the country.

To combat the rapid progression of these diseases in the country, the Lucilab team is committed to prevention. Combining health, psychology and technology, her project aims to help adults aged 45 to 70 adopt healthy lifestyle habits that have been proven to have an impact on mental health. “The greatest innovation of this project is that the team works directly with researchers on co-creation, conceptualization, content, the areas we prioritize”, observes Sylvie Belleville, president of the scientific committee at Lucilab. Does this approach, based on behavior change theories, bring about real changes in habits? That is what they believe.

Ingredients for change

How many servings of fruit do you eat daily? By opening the Luci application, you need to answer a few questions, before planning the first virtual meeting with a consultant, who plays the role of a coach. Then we can establish a plan of action with very specific goals. There is no way to start a whole new diet, try to be an athlete or set impossible resolutions. “The key is to take small steps in what you can change. The changes, you really need to incorporate them,” explains Isabelle Lussier, director of research at Lucilab.

The application is built around three axes: physical activity, mental stimulation and diet. The goals participants set for themselves could range from changing olive oil butter to riding their bikes three times a week to work. “Follow-up appointments were made, we went back to the goals, the barriers and the solutions”, explains Mr.I Lussier, who added that someone who likes to play sports will find activities to do at home when it snows in the winter.

Participants also have access to a large library of content and health sheets, so they can learn about risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. “We combine several approaches to behavior change theories, we observe what elements influence behavior, we find the most effective methods,” the scientist added.

A scientific approach

“Within eight weeks, half of the participants reached their target,” Ms.I Lussier, about a first study that successfully tested their approach. A six -month pilot study will begin this fall with volunteers to test long -term lifestyle changes.

“It’s very exciting for researchers, because ultimately, we can play an important role,” Sylvie Belleville said. “Usually, we’re in the lab, but we don’t have the ability to do things. In the long run, it will be very interesting to keep an eye on the data project that will make it possible to know what works, and what makes it, ”the researcher entices.“ This will clarify, from a scientific perspective, the approach to behavior change. »

For now, the Luci application is offered free of charge. Adults between 50 and 70 can also register on the Lucilab portal to participate in the pilot study. With adequate financial support and artificial intelligence support, the team hopes to offer the application for free to as many people as possible.

To be seen in the video

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