In our extremely high-tech society, it’s no surprise tech products, gadgets, software, etc. play a role in almost everything we do – even increasingly for those of us getting up in age. Managed and planned correctly, technology can be especially helpful to people living with dementia.
(And like anything else in life, if it’s managed and planned poorly it can also be a detriment. But we’ll get into that later.)
Technology for people living with dementia can assist with sleep or medication management, while others help with safety and other elements of day-to-day existence. With my Brian, who lives with Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia, it’s particularly helpful with scheduling and reminders. But as we always say, “If you know one person living with dementia, you know ONE person living with dementia.” What works for one, may not work for another. That’s why it’s important to know your loved one, their needs and how things work best.
So here’s an overview of some cool tech options at your fingertips that can help build a LIFE WORTH LIVING with dementia.
4 Great Tech Options for Persons Living with Dementia & Care Partners
Because of technological advancements and new applications, people living with dementia have especially benefited from things like this:
1. Medication & Treatment Management
If you’re like me, you could spend hours organizing medications for your loved one (and this isn’t limited only to persons living with dementia). It doesn’t matter if you do it once a day, once a week, or even if you med prep at the beginning of each month. It can be a time consuming and confusing process – one that you absolutely cannot afford to get wrong!
Hero, an automated smart dispenser, reduces the stress of remembering how to and when to refill medications. This dispenser technology can hold up to a 90-day supply of 10 different types of pills and is customizable to any medication schedule.
The Hero app includes a scheduling manager to organize doses and consumptions of required medications. Another plus is that the Hero subscription includes an optional prescription refill and delivery service, which sends prescriptions and over-the-counter medication directly to the user’s door with free shipping!
2. Memory & Organization
OK, so misplaced items are the bane of everyone’s existence. It doesn’t matter if you actually have dementia or are just having a “senior moment,” sometimes it’s just hard to find that one thing you need RIGHT NOW!
The Tile Sticker is a device and app that locates everyday items like wallets, keys and such. (The other day, Brian couldn’t find the leash for our awesome service dog, Winnie, when it was right on the coffee table!)
Obviously, the benefits of this tech program are to prevent lost items, but there are many other associated perks. The battery life is good for up to two years and the device itself is waterproof!
3. Musical Therapy, More Organization, News Alerts & More
We always joke that Alexa and Siri are Brian’s girlfriends. (As his dutiful and loving wife/care partner, I guess I have to look the other way and let that slide because they’re just so helpful!)
The Alexa/Echo Dot is a compact, small speaker with many features and abilities friendly to everyone – especially our senior friends and loved ones living with dementia. This smart device is voice activated and small enough to fit/take anywhere. You just need to activate a basic Amazon account. When connected, “Alexa” can play any requested song, add things to an e-calendar and set reminders.
So here’s our own little case study from the A Bit of Brian’s Brilliance blog. Brian increasingly struggles from what we call “The Fog” or “The Nothingness.” Alexa is helpful both for scheduling reminders – even to eat and bathe if I’m not around. And it’s also great for music therapy. We’ve talked so much about music and art being fantastic for memory and cognitive care. When Brian is struggling, telling Alexa to play his favorite music playlist can miraculously lead him from the fog!
4. Safety & Security
Home safety and security is important at any stage of life – but especially as our loved ones with dementia progress. Some may wander and become lost. So it’s nice to have non-invasive ways to ensure their safety. Some common-sense tech devices include surveillance camera systems (which may be connected directly to local police, fire and ambulance dispatches), cell phone tracking devices and home-entrance cameras.
If your loved one has a tendency to walk around (and perhaps lose their way), most cell phone devices have GPS tracking functions to narrow the search. But just as importantly, your loved one must be able to easily find you and communicate with you in an emergency. The RAZ Memory Care Cell Phone is specially designed for persons living with dementia. It has easy one-touch dialing capabilities, allowing the user to simply click the picture of the person they need to call.
Additionally, the Nest Doorbell is a doorbell camera system that allows users to see and speak to anyone at their front door. If your loved one is home alone and confused by a visitor (familiar or unfamiliar), the system allows 2-way communication. With 24/7 streaming and continuous HD video recording, this product ensures the safety of your loved one and the entire care-partner team.
Technology & Dementia – It Can Help Your Loved One If Used Correctly
Of course, these are only a few of the many tech options out there. They’re coming out with more everyday. Some are good, some bad, depending on your individual needs. Again, the best technology will help (if managed correctly).
It’s important to note that the ability of persons living with dementia to use technology will diminish over time. Care partners must work together to understand how technologies like these work, and to manage things like usernames and passwords (which, needless to say, can be easily forgotten). As loved ones find themselves unable to continue using technology, there will inevitably be feelings of grief and loss – likely even anger – due to their care partners needing to assist or even become the primary person using it.
All of this can be factored in a great roadmap to a LIFE WORTH LIVING with dementia. And that’s exactly what we do here at Caregiver Support and Resources, LLC, with services including life-care planning, care partner team-building, patient advocacy, Medicaid & VA planning, and much more. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and let’s get to know each other!