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Our guest blogger Charlotte Murphy explores how modern technology is helping people with dementia and their caregivers adapt to their condition.

A monochrome photograph of some technology including a smart watch, headphones, a phone, and a laptop.

Over recent years, households and businesses across the country have harnessed the power of modern technology to simplify life.

Whether it’s collaborating on documents via cloud storage, streaming music to Bluetooth devices, conducting voice searches via smart speakers or similar, these advances have allowed us to control our environment whilst taking a step back. 

Excitingly, these technologies are being increasingly used in the adult social care and dementia care sectors.

A recent review in the health journal Frontiers in Psychology concludes that technology can improve the lives of people living with dementia and their carers, especially during events such as the recent pandemic where everyday living was disrupted. With this in mind, we’ve gathered the most influential technologically advanced dementia care devices that can help support individuals living with dementia and caregivers alike.

 

Dementia-friendly clocks

Creating and maintaining a daily routine is key to managing everyday life for those living with dementia. As their memory worsens, they may forget to carry out key tasks or confuse night and day, leading to increased stress and anxiety levels.

A specially designed clock can help people with dementia keep track of time and ensure they don’t miss things like appointments, television programmes and mealtimes. They also help support carers if the affected individual struggles to accept the time.

Dementia-friendly clocks can:

  • Display whether it’s morning, afternoon, evening or night
  • Tell the time, date and day of the week
  • Feature enlarged text and numbers for those with sight problems 

You can read more about time management in dementia care here.

 

Smart Home devices

Advanced smart home devices can make life safer and more convenient for people with dementia, whilst providing peace of mind for carers and families alike.

By taking control of lights, central heating, door locks, appliances and other household items via an internet connection, the individual can stay in their own home and be independent for longer. They can also send alerts to caregivers so that they can intervene if necessary.

In the future, we’re likely to see further advancement in these areas of supported home care such as alerts for safety risks such as spilt liquids and other hazards.

 

Adapted communication devices

When people affected by dementia can stay in touch with friends and family, they are less likely to experience isolation, loneliness and mental health issues.

With the wide range of adapted communication devices now available, these individuals can maintain their independence despite cognitive, visual or mobility problems and, importantly, ask for help if required. 

Technology includes adapted landlines and smartphones with extra-large buttons and fonts for the visually impaired, plus pre-programmed picture phones for those with difficulty remembering numbers. There is also the exciting Talking Mats app that allows people to communicate feelings by selecting pictures and symbols.

 

Home security cameras

If you want to keep an eye on your loved ones when you can’t be there, home security cameras provide the perfect solution.

Technological innovations mean that caregivers can communicate remotely with their loved one with dementia via the camera if required. They are often equipped with inbuilt movement detectors to alert you to incidents like falls, or movement towards the door.

However, you must get permission from the person with dementia or their legal guardian before installing CCTV or a home monitoring system. This ensures that their best interests are always protected and there is no violation of privacy.

 

Medication management

People diagnosed with dementia may forget to take their medication, even if they’re provided with a pillbox marked with days of the week or individual doses. 

However, this doesn’t need to be a problem with technological innovations such as automatic pill dispensers or vibrating alarms on watches.

This takes the pressure off the caregiver and provides the individual with a greater degree of independence so they can potentially stay living in their own home for longer.

 

Wearable GPS tracking devices

Dementia can cause people to stop recognising familiar places and faces and may struggle to find their way home. Unsurprisingly, this leads them to feel confused and anxious with caregivers concerned about their whereabouts and their safety.

Enter GPS tracking devices. They are small enough to be worn without noticing – as a watch, wristband or even on a keychain – yet help ensure you can keep track of your loved one wherever they are.. If the worst happens, emergency services can be alerted.

 

Conclusion

With technological advances continually appearing, their use by individuals living with dementia and their caregivers is clear. Smart technologies, dementia-friendly clocks, tracking devices, medication management, communication devices and security cameras could all relieve the pressure on caregivers and help ensure that those with Alzheimer’s and other similar diseases can continue to live rich, fulfilling, and independent lives.

 

This guest blog was written by Charlotte Murphy - you can get in touch with Charlotte at charlotte.murphy@thewritersguild.co.uk.