3 minute read

Supporting people living with dementia is challenging, but assistive technology can be an effective way to help manage many day-to-day tasks. As well as devices and services that can be useful for the elderly in general, there’s assistive technology that’s been designed specifically with memory loss in mind.

The benefits of utilising assistive technology include enabling the person living with dementia to have more independence and giving relatives and friends peace of mind. Deciding on the best assistive technology to use will depend on the individual’s needs and may mean using multiple solutions to tackle different challenges.

What is assistive technology for memory loss?

Assistive technology for memory loss is a wide-ranging collection of systems, devices and services that address specific issues experienced by those living with dementia. They come in a number of forms and can help with everything from remembering to take medication to preventing loved ones from wandering off..

Some assistive technology can be a specific device, such as an electronic pill box or a calendar clock, while others can be downloaded as apps onto smartphones or tablets. Telecare systems and smart home solutions combine devices installed in the house with monitoring services to ensure safety.

Selecting the right assistive technology

When evaluating the different assistive technology solutions available, keep specific goals in mind. Every elderly person has their own specific challenges, with memory loss manifesting itself in a variety of ways.

Ask whether you’re looking for technologies to help a person living with dementia communicate, stimulate their brain, monitor their health, prompt them to complete certain actions or activate an alarm to keep them safe. Within each of these categories there are a number of solutions to consider.

Some examples include:

  • Virtual assistants with reminders set to complete actions like turning things off.
  • Gas safety valves to automatically switch off the oven.
  • Water overflow sensors to stop flooding if a tap is left on.
  • Front door alarms to prevent people living with dementia from wandering off.
  • Digital clocks that speak the time and date.
  • Automatic pill dispensers to prevent forgetting or overdosing medication.
  • Screen readers to assist with cognition.
  • Movement-activated lighting.
  • Personal alarms for emergencies.
  • GPS tracking devices for getting out and about.
  • Smart doorbells with the ability to see who is outside.

The decision to implement assistive technology for people experiencing memory loss should be a collaborative process. As a loved one, you’re likely to have ideas about which solutions would be most appropriate, but it’s important to include the person the technology is designed to help in the decision too.

Infantalising the elderly and installing devices that may seem obtrusive without their input can have the opposite effect of offering them more independence. Choose the times of day when their memory seems to be at its best to have conversations about the options and don’t expect decisions to be made all at once.

Involve experts in the process and seek advice from the likes of Age UK, Age Space and the Alzheimer’s Society. All of these organisations offer unbiased help and support on navigating assistive technology options for memory loss.

Bridging the gap between isolation and human help

Memory loss in the elderly is a sliding scale, with support needs evolving all the time. It can be hard to know when full-time care is required, but assistive technology and telecare services can be a good way to bridge the gap between an individual feeling isolated and getting the support they need.

Personal alarms and alerts that are only activated when a person living with dementia needs help can offer relatives and friends some reassurance. Monitoring centres that can alert loved ones via their smartphone or send someone with a key to check on a situation means human help is not far away.

Assistive technology is one of the ways you can find support as a dementia carer. At Barchester, we have lots of resources available to help you understand dementia care and everything it entails. Caring for a person with memory loss can affect the whole family, making any adjustment that can ease the process worthwhile.

Find your nearest Barchester care home