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(48) Research on HEALTH: dementia.

… and so I went to the Brightland Campus in Heerlen. You will hear more about it in the international news, just give it some time. It was my second visit at one of it’s centers, BISS Institute and I already fell in love with it. It reminds me about the Dutch Central Statistics Bureau: innovative, large spaces, new style of organizational management. In one of the offices I met Danny, who’s startup name, in my view, is brilliant: “Rementis“, helps people facing ‘remembering’ problems – dementia. Speaking of which, do you remember when we agreed that Research is not only used and done at the university and only by scientists, but also in business? 😉 Here is how Rementis uses Research to advance in their work and explain to people that struggle with dementia. This is Research on HEALTH month on Researchista.

Hi, my name is Danny Pouwels, 27y. I work for the last 6 years with people who suffer from dementia and see a lot of struggles. So, in jan. 2016 I quit my job to help the people who suffer from dementia.

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Danny Pouwels, social entrepreneur

Dementia is becoming one of the most intrusive diseases that crucially diminish the quality of life of those who suffer from it and the people around them. Seeing the struggles that dementia causes and the future developments of our population, it is important to tackle individual & demographic problems by cost-efficiently and effectively supporting the lives of people that suffer from dementia.

 Alzheimer Europe estimates the number of people with dementia in the Netherlands in 2012 as being 245,560. This represents 1.47% of the total population of 16,714,228. The number of people with dementia as a percentage of the population is somewhat lower than the EU average of 1.55%. The following table shows the estimated number of people with dementia between 30 and 59 and for every 5-year age group thereafter.

The biggest struggle they face at home is losing their ability to maintain a structured daily routine, or in other words being unable to face daily life independently. In almost all cases, enabling dementia patients to stay at home requires external help from (professional) caregivers.

As the condition of the patient declines, the caregivers (i.e. the people around them) become increasingly overwhelmed with tasks and soon face the issue of investing the majority of their persona time in giving care. This is an issue known to cause a series of mental problems. By enabling the dementia patient to continue to live independently, we reduce the time that caregivers are required to invest in order to take care of them. Consequently, the time and costs that are saved can be reallocated to individual or collective activities outside of the caregiving aspect.

We are Rementis and we want to remind people. Not only about the small things in life but also about the fact that, with the right help, an independent life is possible even when things look bad. We offer an in-house solution that supports them in independently completing those day-to-day tasks by sending constant reminders about what, when and how to do something. Moreover, to counteract the cognitive decline of the user we stimulate the cognitive, physical and social activity through various features.

A multifunctional display that serves as a smart-reminder, supporting the daily life of the user through various features that are offered on the Rementis platform. All features are based on either one of the aspects that stimulate the user on cognitive, physical or social level.

Post written by Danny Pouwels from Rementis.

With love for Research,

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(19) Magic 3: Policy – Academia – Business

When I was small, “Sailor Moon” was one of my favourite cartoons, especially when she and her girlfriends gathered in a circle and took out their magic sticks with magic powers from the nature: fire, air, water and earth – to unite their powers and fight the evil… When these elements are apart they have one power, but when combined, they can create effects that could never happen independently. Just like in life, Research is useful, but if not discussed and transmitted further into policy or business, it might just stay there for years, without serving it’s purpose.

Please welcome the Magic 3 (fire, air and water) and the earth (you and me and everyone).

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To avoid confusion, policy is not politics, nor police ;). Policy (or public policy or a policy in an area) is a governmental programme addressed to solve or to take care of a specific sector of public life; for example, energy. In the energy sector, there are people who install the electricity in your building and there are people who pay these people to do this work and there are people who decide how much will the electricity cost this month for all the citizens of a country (and by body, I mean, of course a group of people with a specific role, not the actual human bodies 😉 ). Although it might seem as if they do not talk between them, they all function according to a plan. So, that plan  – is a policy – created by the government with budget and right structure to make sure that area of public life will work.

So, here we are… a bunch of Researcher, each of us representing one of the Magic 3 elements (we are 5, since in Academia we are 2 types of Researchers and 1 is myself (how could I leave my humble self out of the photo-shoot). Am I missing a type of Research? What type? Who?

  • Academia: Experienced Researcher and Early-Stage Researcher
  • Policy
  • 50/50 academia-policy and of course,
  • Business Researcher
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Photo credit: http://www.manorlux.com

So, let us start in order of the order with a small description about each beautiful and precious human you see in this picture:

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Magic 1: Academic Researcher (Experienced Researcher, according to European Commission)

Please welcome the most stylish, elegant, classy man of Maastricht (according to me. I know such labeling is dangerous, but I simply can not help it, this gentleman does not stop being elegant probably every day of the year ).

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Antoine P. Simons, doctorate graduate 2010 at Maastricht University: “As a clinical specialist in the cardiovascular field, working both efficiently and effectively demands up-to-date knowledge that can be derived either from basic research or from clinical trials. Without science, health care could never have reached the level it has today, and which I use to save lives. I either use the knowledge gathered by others, accessible via peer-reviewed publications and at scientific meetings, or by simply investigating myself. Setting up my own research helps me to become a better team member, colleague, teacher, supervisor and clinician in order to help those in need: patients I like to become healthy again!”

Magic 1: Academic Researcher (Early-Stage Researcher, according to European Commission)

Representing probably the closest to Researchista’s heart group of Researcher – PhD fellows, otherwise called, Early-stage Researchers. Say hi to one of the most engaging story-teller I know:

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Ibrahima Sory Kaba, PhD fellow at the United Nations University – MERIT, Maastricht University: “Academic research is to economics what stretchers and legs are to a chair. It helps the discipline to stand on solid and firm grounds. As a Ph.D student in macroeconomics of development, the bulk of my work consists of controlling for potential causalities or building mathematical models, all rooted in a strong body of theory, with the main objective of guiding policy-making. Currently I am halfway of completing my Ph.D before moving on to new challenges. But as of now I am simply enjoying myself with collaborative academic research, weekly seminars and eye-opening teaching experiences.”

Magic 3: Policy Researcher.

As a former PhD at Maastricht University, she never ceased to impress with her talents:Photo-4

Olga J. Skriabikova-Coenen, Researcher at the Regional government of Limburg, South of the Netherlands [doctorate graduate 2014 at Maastricht University]: “I have a PhD in Economics and since two years I work at Limburg regional government. In my role as Strategy research and evaluation advisor I provide critical reflection on proposed research questions, methods and design. The main difference between fundamental research and policy-oriented, or in other terms, applied research is that policy research should ideally provide directly applicable results which can be used to address urgent policy matters. Formulating research questions in such a way that policy-makers receive information that they can use is therefore crucial. Another issue related to applicability is timeliness, since policy-makers need to be able to react quickly and cannot afford waiting for a year or more to plan a policy action. The other side of the coin is that policy research cannot provide the depth, precision and generality of conclusions of fundamental research. Nonetheless, high quality policy research is crucial for adequate planning, design, implementation and evaluation of policies.”

Magic 3: Business Researcher.

Maastricht is simply lucky to have Mark Lewis as it’s inhabitant, a genuine promoter and simply a model to follow when it comes to social equity and solidarity. I am honoured and privileged to be his friend.Photo Mark

Mark Lewis, Business Analyst at APG, Netherlands (one of the largest pension funds in the world): “I think Research is really important for business: ..” Listen here to what Mark has to share with us about the role of Research in his area.

Magic 1 & 2: Academia & Policy Researcher.

Welcome to your humble partner in crime for Research, Irina Burlacu aka Researchista.

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Irina Burlacu, Lecturer at the Center for European Studies at Maastricht University and Researcher (in both academia & policy sector: 50%-50%). She believes in the strong (not yet valorified at its fullest) potential of Research in current societies and economies and wishes to promote this vision at more levels. Read more about it here.

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At the end of every movie, the producers always remain with the pieces that are not included in the movie (the extras). Our producer, the professional photographer Manor Lux, whom I would like to thank very much for his patience and this very beautiful pictures, also had some extras, I believe this is one of it 🙂 The location is the good old “Cafe Zondag“, who let us feel like on a shooting platform (the location was chosen for you, my friends, who left Maastricht long ago).

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With love for Research,

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p.s. A special Magic 3 type of event takes place yearly in Maastricht. If you are part of one of the 3 elements, subscribe on their web-page or require information from the organizing group, as the following step is to create an app in the area of circular economy that would match partners from business-academia-policy, powerful….

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p.s.2. You understand that most probably I am missing something in this diagram and that the truth is relative (for example, I did not include the international organisation or local communities and non-governmental organisations), but let us assume for now that it is like that.

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(18) Researchista: first 3 months.

Dear Researchista friends,

Our group is increasing and maybe is a good idea to summarise what Researchista is about and what have I been up to since the web-site was launched.

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So, first things first. Researchista is about bringing Research in the mainstream. This is because at the moment, Research is probably not often seen as very hype or trendy, but without it would be no technological, medical or other type of progress. To pay a tribute to that, Research & Researchers on my web-site start with Capital letters 😉

What is Researchista doing? How is it organised?

1. My Facebook page is the dynamic display of Researchista. It’s updated almost everyday of the week and it’s organised in 4 parts:

[BLOG] section is transmitting the same post that is coming out on this web-site every Monday of the week. Also, from time to time, Researchista is inviting and hosting a Special Guest, who knows a lot about a certain topic and can hopefully help in one way or the other. In this sense, I had the privilege to host till now: Dr. Jimmie Leppink on improving writing performance, particularly for PhD students (see: My first paper,  Tips on improving your writing, Writing and Research design, Guest writer preview) and the Health Coach and expert, PhD Danielle Branje on anxiety in professional life (see: “Trust more, stress less“, “Prevention is the key“, “Tips to trick anxiety in your professional life” ).

One day, I hope to introduce you to my PhD supervisor, whose guidance was so valuable and inspiring, and that I hope you will also have the privilege to share some of it as well. But till then: in July, I would like to introduce you to a more laid-back, yet very topical topic, such as: the importance of fashion in our life. Our Special guests, Hasmik Matevosyan , who wrote the book “Paradigm in Fashion”, based on her previous Research, will share her unique model to deal with clothes mass-production and other-related topics. Attention: photos on the streets of beautiful Maastricht are included!

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[PAPER OF THE WEEK] section is coming out every Wednesday (hopefully) and tries to encourage everyone to read academic papers, without fear 🙂

[BOOK OF THE MONTH] is coming out every 1st day of a month and is a recommendation of a book written by Researchers.

[WEEKEND] section is inspired by PhDs life style, who usually work so hard and do not always have a weekend. It tried suggests different ‘feel-good’ ideas, for example:final

2. Www.Researchista.com is a web-site that puts you in closer touch with Researchers’ life. Here, you can find out who can be qualified as a Researchers, how many are we in the world, what types of Researchers exist, these sort of more conceptual questions for you to familiarize better with who we are. On another hand, this blog is addressing various PhD related issues and questions, including: writing performance tips, health, life style, etc. Most importantly, it has the goal to put on the table for discussion.

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3. My Twitter is another useful source that summarises fast and painless what Researchista is up to weekly.

Voila, this is me and all I had to say this time. Enjoy June, they say  – the month of new beginnings! 😉

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With love for Research,

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(14) Writing & no RSI.

Intellectual work demands a lot of energy and effort. Apart from eating a lot of nuts and chocolate for brain, one also needs to be fit to be able to stay long hours in front of the computer. Someone told me once, a PhD student with no particular health problems was so exhausted from writing (typing) that was not able to hold a cup of tea anymore. He had R S I…  find out here what that is. RSI happened to me also, for a while I had no power in my arms/hands at all. I learned later that one of my colleagues even had surgery to both of her wrists and that RSI stays for life.

So, what to do if you have RSI? Do not avoid to ask for help from friends/family at times like this, you might make it worse by forcing your arms and do everything yourself.

Adjust your work station to your body parameters. Every modern institution/company is equipped with ergonomic chairs, etc. By the way, if you work at Maastricht University an entire department is dedicated to such questions. It works a bit like an ambulance, upon request they will visit your station (asap) and explain everything, maybe give you an ergonomic mouse or keyboard. Here is how you can contact them, fast and painless.

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photo credit: internet.

Visit a physio-therapist… First thing I did was to go see a physio-therapist who could unblock the pain in my arms and shoulders. There are so many services in Maastricht, I went to Jasper’s Physio Therapy  and found a really nice doctor, who said smiling that she was having an entire PhD crowd enrolling to her sessions, especially the last year ones.

When you are back on track, join Researchista and Backforward to strengthen those muscles, do sports – the best proven remedy against RSI. One full-year discount voucher to all Researchers in Maastricht and neighbouring areas is offered to you as of today! 😀 Download it here and present it at your first session.

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Certainly “the evil is not so black as it seems”, keep calm and carry on. RSI compared to other issues is probably minuscule, yet is good to know about it and prevent on time, so that you can hold strongly that cup of tea and make that lemonade out of those lemons! 🙂

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Palma-de-Majorca, Spain (2014)

Stay RSI-free!

With love for Researchers, R.

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(13) Writing and RSI (my story)

Ah, PhD life…  So, that’s me and another PhD going to Spain, Palma-de-Majorca. Tasty food, beautiful beach, warm sand and refreshing breeze from the sea.

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This is me and my sister going few months later to Japan, in Tokyo & Yokohama, where I attended a world congress; thousands of researchers gathered there.

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Not too bad.. indeed, I could not complain. The only difficult thing to show in these pictures is that I was not able to do much with my hands. My arms were just hanging attached to my shoulders, but were not very helpful.

It was my last year of PhD. I was so exhausted that I had to take this trip to Spain if I wanted to finish my PhD thesis. My friend was helping me out so that all I had to do, was to relax and restore. Whereas in Japan, I planned to go months beforehand, it was a World Congress which I simply could not miss. Maybe I would have met my future employers there, such events are valuable for future perspectives. My sister was my personal little helper and tourist guide, has been a long trip.

I was fortunate to be able to get away and get better, but there are many PhD students who are not that fortunate, also they or/and are not aware that they struggle with RSI. A PhD, a Post-doc or a Researcher in general is doing a lot of writing (and editing, editing, editing, editing) which in its turn could cause…

Repetitive strain injury  – an injury caused by repetitive tasks, forceful exertions, vibrations, mechanical compression, or sustained or awkward positions.

2Repetitive Strain Injury

 

What happened next? What is all the fuss about it?… to be continued next Monday!

p.s. Big thanks to all my friends and family who were there for me when needed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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(6) Knowledge is Happiness? II

This is the 2-nd post out of the trilogy on: how knowing more can make us more happy & how to find the right balance (because knowing more can also make us very unhappy)

Is knowledge happiness? Of course it is, Researchers might say. All we do is dealing with knowledge. This is basically our source of happiness, the daily motivator and driver, the joy and glory.  Well, that’s it then, the question is sorted out.

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(4) Are Researchers boring?

Considering that the number of Researchers (PhDs included) in Europe and across the world is high and that it is only in recent years  when research has become a ‘paid job’, I find it important to clarify some things: