How Technology Will Change the Future for Alzheimer’s

Jennifer Wegerer
By Jennifer WegererFebruary 20, 2014

Technology can help us see, hear and communicate better. Applying innovations in technology to the specific needs of Alzheimer’s patients, scientists are giving many seniors a safer and more independent life.

Remembering names, losing keys and even finding their way home; seniors with Alzheimer’s face enormous challenges in dealing with what were once everyday tasks. But, the latest technological tools, from smartphone apps to satellite navigation systems, are changing the future for Alzheimer’s patients. Consider these most recent innovations.

Power Sleeping Through Alzheimer’s Research

We use our smartphones to text, tweet, Google, and occasionally, make a call. The power those phones hold has recently taken a giant leap in the world of Alzheimer’s research. Scientists at the University of Vienna have developed an Android app called Power Sleep, which serves as an alarm clock. Unlike other clock apps, however, Power Sleep, available from the Google Play store, harnesses the power of a phone while it charges.

Here’s how it works:

  • Set the alarm.
  • Plug the phone into its charger.
  • Make sure it is connected to a Wi-Fi network.
  • After the phone reaches an 80% charge, Power Sleep starts to process data.

The phone downloads a file (approximately 1MB) from the Similarity Matrix of Proteins (SIMAP) database, which houses information about all known protein sequences. While the phone charges, the database borrows some of its power, along with power from other phones that have Power Sleep installed, to decrypt protein sequences and send that information back to researchers.

Understanding how proteins are arranged is crucial to fighting Alzheimer’s. So with a simple app download, people can contribute to Alzheimer’s research in their sleep.

Recognizing Faces Through Google Glass

Handsfree technology is also making great strides to fight Alzheimer’s disease. Take Google Glass, for instance. Glass takes pictures, gives directions, translates languages and much more, all with a simple command, as you wear it like a pair of glasses.

Through its Google GPS system, Glass shows extraordinary promise as a tool for seniors with Alzheimer’s. Prompting them with reminders on where they want to go and how to get there, Glass supports memory function. Seniors can keep up with daily walks, trips to the grocery store and other ventures that help them feel more independent and in control. Additionally, Google Glass provides facial recognition features that connect faces with names and relationships. So, seniors who wear Glass would have immediate cues as to who is standing in front of them. What’s more, relatives and caregivers can use features of Glass to monitor a senior’s location.

Other Technologies for Seniors With Alzheimer’s

The Alzheimer’s Society describes several other assistive technologies that facilitate memory, reduce risks and promote autonomy for seniors with Alzheimer’s. Here are just a few of these tools:

  • Calendar clocks
  • Touch lamps
  • Reminder messages that use personal voice prompts
  • Locator devices
  • Medication aids
  • Remote in-home monitoring systems
  • Tracking devices

Finding the Right Technology for Your Loved One

Each technological tool has its own advantages and disadvantages. Some are more expensive than others, and some might even cause confusion for the senior. Finding the right tool to meet your loved one’s needs can take time, as well as some trial and error. In the end, you may find that even the simplest tool can make a world of difference to the quality of life for your loved one.

What technological tools have you found most useful for seniors with Alzheimer’s? Please share your insights below.

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Jennifer Wegerer

Jennifer Wegerer

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