Evaluating the Lifecurve approach
Research shows that if we keep up activity and exercise consistently from an early enough age, most of us can stay independent at home until the last few months of life. This project is developing Lifecurve, an app tracking the user’s ability to undertake 19 core daily activities. Scores are provided, activity and exercise goals set, encouragement given and data can be compared to others of a similar age. The app has the potential to have significant positive effects on activity levels.
About the project
As we get older we tend to assume that we will get more and more dependent on others leading us to need care and support at home and ultimately may need to enter a care home. However research has shown that if we take suitable preventative actions from around the age of 55 we need not lose the ability to carry out functional activities of daily life such as walking, shopping, cooking a meal or transferring to a toilet. It is possible therefore, if we take this preventative activity and exercise from an early enough age and consistently enough, that the vast majority of us can stay independent at home until the last few months of life. This we call compression of functional decline in that the decline we suffer occurs at the very end of life. This is the life journey that most of us want. We can track your physical life journey (your Lifecurve) through your ability to undertake 19 activities of daily life (your Lifecurve score) over time.
We have developed in partnership with Health and Social care colleagues and a spin out university company an App which you can use on a smart phone or tablet to record your Lifecurve Score and which will tell you the kinds of activities and exercises that evidence shows will maintain your physical independence. It will show you stories from others who have successfully remained independent. It will let you set tasks to do for yourself and will monitor if you do these tasks. It will allow you to compare yourself with others of your age and gender. It will also record your scores over time and show them to you. Your data and tasks choices and activities will be recorded by the app anonymously and we can use this data to see what you do that is helpful and if using the app helps slow or arrest your functional decline.
We plan to roll this app out across Scotland as part of this research study. The app users will help make the app as user friendly as it can be, to improved the content of the App. The research level data from the use of the app will provide initial research data on the effectiveness of the app and Lifecurve approach on promoting independence in later life. The data will also allow us to plan a full scale Randomised Controlled Trial (the gold standard for health research) to determine the effectiveness of the approach in the future. We will also be able to nudge you to curtain activities as they become available or evidence for them develops and to send you surveys to fill in electronically.
If successful the Lifecurve app and approach could have considerable effect on healthy ageing, leading to longer and more independent lives and reducing the burden on health and social care services. The launch of the APP has been delayed for 3 months due to the COVID pandemic because some of the activities it encouraged were group activities, required non essential travel or could not be conducted with social distancing in place. We and the company are now happy that the modified APP and the activities it contains are COVID compliant. The COVID pandemic has severely limited older adults ability to socialise outside the home and our levels of daily activity.
If this continues it posses an increasing threat to functional independence in later life. It is therefore even more important in the post COVID world that we offer advice and support to older adults as to how to maintain their functional independence and stay active at home. We have setup the roll out of the app, a project support website (https://stillgoingproject.co.uk/) and the research evaluation methodology and we are now seeking funding with this application to undertake an evaluation of the success or otherwise of the app and the Lifecurve approach.