Technology-Based Tools for Dementia Patients

For Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia patients, treatment and care costs in the United States will increase from 203 billion USD to 1.2 trillion USD per year by 2050. (WHO, Global Health and Aging, Technical Report, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health; 2011). The aging population and rising number of Alzheimer’s patients necessitate societal and familial preparation for greater economic and psychological burdens. Meanwhile, the 21st century has witnessed unprecedented advancements in technology, impacting all aspects of life, including healthcare and more tools for dementia patients.

Mental Health and Technology Treatment

Currently, various technologies, including digital devices, smart sensors, and intelligent applications, assist elderly individuals with daily needs at home. Developing an integrated technological solution could address many challenges faced by elderly patients, enhancing their quality of life, health, and safety (Ardelean, & Redolat, 2024).

Even the simplest technology tools offer significant help to Alzheimer’s patients. For example, you can play back recorded messages at the appropriate time to serve as reminders. Some devices can even play messages based on the person’s activity. Medication management technology ranges from simple pillboxes marked with days of the week to high-tech automated dispensers that beep and open to remind caregivers and patients to take their medication (Yousaf, K. et.al. 2020).
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Communication Aids

For dementia patients, wandering outside unattended poses a serious issue, which GPS location and tracking devices can promptly resolve in emergencies. Therefore, more advanced tools include picture phones designed for individuals who cannot remember phone numbers and may need to contact someone quickly (Gibson et al., 2016). These phones often feature transparent buttons where photos can be placed, allowing the user to make calls easily by pressing the button associated with the photo (Gibson G. et.al. 2016).

More complex tools, still in the research phase, include systems that monitor the use of common electrical appliances to ensure users do not forget to switch them off. Additionally, home monitoring solutions using sensors, cameras, and scanners are being developed to enhance safety and support for dementia patients (Vegesna A. et al. 2017).
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Digital Devices

We categorize technological solutions into different groups based on their use. For example, ambient assisted living (AAL) technologies fall into four main groups: daily task facilitation, mobility assistance, healthcare and rehabilitation, and social inclusion and communication. (Li R. et al. 2015)

Here is a list of the top technological innovations for caregivers and those living with dementia:

  • Communication aids include adapted telephones preprogrammed with frequently dialed numbers and featuring large buttons, making them easier for seniors to use. Video chat services like FaceTime and Skype also help maintain contact with geographically distant loved ones.
  • Electrical appliance use monitoring helps caregivers who do not live with their loved ones. It plugs into a power strip or wall outlet and monitors appliance use. It alerts caregivers if commonly used appliances are not turned on or off.
  • Home care robots are ideal for long-distance caregivers. They help ensure their loved ones’ safety on a daily basis.
  • Medication management tools range from simple pillboxes marked with days of the week. They also include advanced automated dispensers that beep and open. These remind caregivers and patients to take their medication.

Final Words

A cure for dementia remains elusive. However, new technological innovations can ease the caregiving burden. They also enhance the comfort and safety of those diagnosed. Learn more about these innovations for dementia and how they can assist your parents and senior loved ones.

 

Author: Nasibeh Sarami
Living Maples’ Cognitive Assessment Advisor
Geriatric Psychologist

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