Dementia comes in many different forms and can affect a wide range of different people. This is why dementia care is an important component of general healthcare that can ensure that those affected by dementia-related diseases can get the help they need in order to live healthy lives despite the symptoms.
Thankfully, technology is starting to improve the lives of those who live with dementia at home. While home care services have traditionally been the go-to method to take care of those who are affected by dementia-related diseases, technological advances are now starting to make their way into our homes. They can offer dementia patients some relief and even assistance to make everyday life easier to cope with.
In this article, we’re going to talk about the many different ways that technology can and already has helped many people cope with their symptoms. We’ll also talk about a couple of growing technologies that will likely have a huge impact on how we cope with dementia in the future.
Why is technology so important for helping people with dementia?
For a long time, technology has provided us with many ways to live our lives in comfort. Whether it’s easing the stress of memorising something important like phone numbers or giving us the ability to purchase heavy goods online and have them conveniently delivered, technology has the ability to empower our lives. Technology has already greatly advanced the medical field and it’s only just getting started with dementia.
For those that live with dementia, home care is often the most common choice when it comes to coping with the symptoms. However, home care doesn’t offer independent living on the level that most people would prefer. While technology can’t yet provide a dementia patient with full independence, it’s slowly getting there and can certainly help provide practical solutions to home carers and family members.
Dementia-focused technology aims to provide people with ways to maintain their preferred lifestyle despite any symptoms of dementia that they’re facing. Assistive and enabling technologies can cover anything from a physical device to an online service that is accessed through the web. They’re often everyday items such as small devices with built-in technologies such as sensors and cameras that are designed to monitor patients while also providing them with assistance when possible.
Technology to help dementia patients stay connected
We’re already making great use of technology to help dementia patients stay connected to friends and family members. A common example that most people use is smartphones. Smartphone technology provides everyone with a way to stay in touch either through the use of text messaging, online communication or traditional voice calls. However, technology has advanced enough that smartphones are essentially small computers that can be fitted with sensors and voice-activated software to help someone coping with dementia to live a more comfortable life.
There are also many phones that stray away from the typical smartphone touchscreen design. These phones are designed to be used much like traditional phones and sport large tactile buttons and a clear display that makes it very easy to operate. While these can lack the features of a smartphone, they’re often still a great way to help a dementia patient stay in touch with loved ones through voice.
To take a step up, tablet devices are starting to become easier to use thanks to software advances and upgrades. They can be used easily as digital picture frames, video chat devices and even be used to browse the internet on a larger display instead of relying on a smartphone with a comparatively smaller screen. While tablet devices do have a lot of functionality, learning to use them is something that home care services can help their patients with.
In short, technology has given dementia patients many ways to stay in touch with not just their loved ones and close friends, but also stay in touch with communities through online social media platforms and message boards. This way they can keep up with their hobbies, watch relevant news on a convenient device and also install helpful apps that could help to monitor things such as their diet, budget and even lifestyle.
Technology provides dementia patients with more safety and security
Dementia carers and family members often find that they’re worried about the safety and security of those who have to cope with dementia. This is why many people find that it’s necessary to always have watchful eyes close to their loved ones that are struggling with dementia, but this can be taxing on others and rather time-consuming. Thankfully, technology has introduced many ways for us to take better care of our loved ones that are coping with dementia.
For instance, there are many sensors built into devices that can alert is when someone has a fall. These devices can automatically ring emergency personnel and family members when it triggers, and there are also GPS trackers that can be used to keep track of someone’s location. This means that if someone experiences a bout of dementia and decides to wander outside or down the street, the device can automatically pick this up and alert the relevant people. However, it’s not just about keeping track of your loved ones.
It’s also equally important to protect them from the home that they live in. Whether it’s certain appliances that aren’t completely safe to use or detectors that should be updated and maintained on a regular basis for more safety, it’s vital to look at the technologies that can help dementia patients live a more comfortable life and also give peace of mind to family members and carers. A good example of this is adding smoke detectors that will also alert family members and carers when they go off or ensuring that the bath doesn’t overflow by installing preventative measures and sensors. There are also devices that can automatically switch off to save energy and also ensure that no appliances are left on for long periods of time. These can even turn off gas-powered appliances such as a cooking range to ensure that the home and your loved one are both kept safe.
With so many great forms of technology helping to keep our loved ones safe, it’s easy to see just how important these advancements are. Although many of them will require installing new devices and teaching your loved ones how to use certain devices, they’re designed to be simple to use and will help ensure that your loved ones are kept safe at all times.
Technology helps dementia patients stick to routines and remember important notes
Dementia is often characterised by a difficult of remembering things. Whether it’s small bits of information such as phone numbers or meeting dates, it’s a challenging prospect for those coping with dementia to stick to routines and remember important information. This is where dementia care services can help; with someone else there to help remember important bits of information and routines, it makes coping with dementia a little easier.
However, technology can also help patients with dementia to remember important information and routines. Whether it’s taking medication at certain times of the day or even alarms to alert them of the different times of day, it can help to minimise stress and also encourage them to keep better track of meal times.
A simple example of this type of technology could be a special clock that can be downloaded onto smartphones or come as separate portable devices. These clocks could have alarm functionality which will ensure that the person coping with dementia remembers important dates and times throughout the day, and it can also show the date, week and month if necessary. These separate devices and smartphone apps are a great way to remind dementia patients of important things, but this type of functionality can also be added to everyday devices. For instance, a pill dispenser could actually be programmed to open at a specific time and alert the user that they should be taking medication. These are automatic once programmed correctly and will help ensure that people coping with dementia never forget to take their medication.
Clocks themselves can also be relatively customisable and advanced thanks to technology. Clocks can help to ensure a dementia patient sleeps well at night and helps them maintain a regular sleep schedule. These can simply be modified or set by a home carer or a relative and then activate automatically with a few simple controls should your loved one need to turn off the alarm or disable it temporarily.
To conclude, technology is a great way to make reminders and help dementia patients stick to routines. Due to the characteristic symptom of having a poor memory, dementia can make it difficult to follow an important routine and could even contribute to skipped medication or even dangerous side effects of medicine due to taking them too often.
Future technologies can help to predict changes as they happen
Thanks to the variety of sensors available on devices and also advances in artificial intelligence and learning algorithms, we may be able to start predicting changes and improvements in one’s dementia case. Sensors can be placed around the home or even on the body of the dementia patient to detect everything from their general health quality to their stride and physical body strength. This data can then be fed to an artificial intelligence that will help to determine if there are any changes to your loved one’s health. If it picks up something gradual such as a change in how they walk or their reaction time to certain things, then the data can be used to predict when changes will happen so that preparations can be made in advance.
Sensors can also monitor vital signs such as blood pressure, heart rate and temperature without having to be physically with the dementia patient and examining them. These sensors can then be set up to play alarms or alerts when something has gone wrong or when further assistance is needed in an emergency situation. These sensors will typically come in the form of a wristband, a smartphone or even cameras and built-in sensors in the home. By tracking all of this data, it can help to detect any issues before they develop into concerning problems.
These devices and technologies have the advantage that they typically don’t interfere with one’s life. Since the devices are small or don’t need to be “used” in order to collect that data, it won’t bother your loved ones and they can live their lives normally. Much of this information can also be submitted to medical professionals (if you choose to) so that they can compile it and use it in further research to develop better medical services and technologies for dementia patients.
Future AI-powered technologies may also even pave the way to voice-controlled robots that can interact with people living with dementia and also alert them of important things. This could include alerting them about taking medication, about the temperature of their body or even who’s knocking at the front door. These voice-controlled robots could play a very important role in how assistive technologies grow and could even become an effective assistant to use in conjunction with dementia home care specialists.
Some final words
Technology is constantly growing and thanks to all the data that has been collected and the advancements that are being made, it’s easy to see just how much of an impact technology can make on someone’s life to help them cope with dementia. Regardless of how severe the conditions are, there will likely always be some kind of technologies that can assist those with dementia.
Whether it’s for safety and security, to help establish or maintain a routine, or even to help stay in touch with loved ones, technology has helped many that have to cope with dementia to live more comfortable lives. While it’s likely not going to completely replace professional dementia home care, it will certainly assist in their lives and make certain tasks easier.