Last Updated: January 9, 2019
While time has not brought a cure for dementia, it has brought new technological innovations which can ease the caregiving burden and help keep those diagnosed more comfortable and safe.
Learn more about these innovations for dementia and how they can help your parents and senior loved ones.
Dementia can be frightening and overwhelming — for both caregivers and loved ones living with the disease. However, new technologies can help ease anxiety, establish routine and improve the quality of life for everyone involved.
This kind of “assistive technology” can promote autonomy and independence, manage potential safety risks around the home and reduce stress.
Here is a list of the top technological innovations for caregivers and those living with dementia today:
Clocks specifically designed for those with dementia can help ease anxiety associated with a diagnosis. Someone who has dementia may confuse day and night and an easy-to-read clock can help them distinguish the time. This can also help caregivers who are trying to set a routine by showing their loved one that it actually is the time they say it is.
Staying connected with others is essential to the quality of life in memory care. Research shows that people with dementia can recall how an event has made them feel, even if they are no longer able to remember faces and names. Technology has made staying in contact with loved ones easier than ever. Adapted telephones can be preprogrammed with frequently dialed numbers and often have large buttons making them easier to use. Video chat services like FaceTime and Skype are another great way to stay in touch with loved ones who are geographically distant. As dementia progresses and communication becomes difficult, Talking Mats is a popular app that allows people to communicate feelings by selecting pictures and symbols.
This new piece of technology is specifically designed for caregivers who do not live with their loved ones. It monitors their use of electrical appliances by plugging into a power strip or wall outlet and will alert caregivers if their commonly used appliances have not been turned on or off. Technologies like the ones listed above do not make a dementia diagnosis easy. The disease is still devastating. But, with new technologies being developed, dementia is more manageable than ever before.
Location tracking devices are a great option for those who have dementia and may wander. Tracking devices can be worn and many have alert systems that let a caregiver know if their loved one has left a certain area. This type of technology can also alert emergency personnel to ensure a safe and speedy recovery.
As technology continues to progress, researchers are looking into home care robots to help relieve the caregiver burden. Designed to help, and not replace, human caregivers, home care robots can do general housework and help remind people to take medication or alert medical professionals if assistance is needed. Home care robots are not the standard now, but they may be standard in caregiving in the future.
Home monitoring devices allow lights to be turned on and off, thermostats to be changed and can also allow for a range of safety measures that will send alerts via smartphone. This is a great option for long-distance caregivers wanting to ensure their loved one’s safety on a daily basis.
In-home cameras are another great way to ensure your loved one’s safety from a distance. Keeping a camera focused on medication, or in the main room, can help you feel confident your loved one is taking medication and is active. Some cameras will allow you to speak to your loved one and will monitor movement, alerting you if no movement has been detected for a set period of time.
Medication management technology can be as simple as a pillbox marked with days of the week, or as high-tech as automated pill dispensers which beep and open to remind caregivers and those with dementia to take their medication. Some medication reminders are also as simple as a vibrating alarm on a watch. This technology serves the busy caregiver well by allowing them to trust the device for a medication reminder.
Specifically designed for people who cannot remember phone numbers and may need to contact someone quickly, these phones have large numbers and are pre-programmable with frequently called phone numbers. Some of the phones come with clear buttons where photos can be placed so that the person can just push the button associated with the photos to call their loved one quickly.
Reminders can help keep properties and loved ones safe when the caregiver can’t. These messages are recorded on a device in the home and then played back out loud at the appropriate time. For example, a caregiver may record a message to play that reminds a person to take a medication at the correct time. Some devices can play messages depending on the person’s activity. For example, if a person with dementia leaves their home, a reminder message could tell them to lock the front door. This technology can also remind both caregiver and patient of appointments. Other reminder messages can also let those who have dementia know to close the door, go back to bed and to provide reassurance when the caregiver is not present.
What kind of technological innovations have you found to improve the quality of life for those with dementia? We’d like to hear your tips in the comments below.