How Technology Is Helping People with Alzheimer’s

An elderly man walks away from his homeLong before Alzheimer’s compromises a senior’s ability to care for him or herself, it makes lifestyle changes challenging. The adjustment to a new home can be overwhelming for a senior in the beginning stages of the disease, since Alzheimer’s undermines the ability of those it afflicts to learn new things. This means that moving into assisted living or a family member’s house can be scary and even traumatic. With the advent of home monitoring services, though, people with Alzheimer’s are living safely alone for longer periods of time.

When Tracking of Activity Can Be a Good Thing

We’ve all heard stories about how technology is increasingly being employed to monitor average citizens and reactions to this kind of tracking vary, but a company called SmartThings has set out to make this monitoring a good thing for people with Alzheimer’s. The company uses motion sensors, wearable devices, and similar products to help caregivers monitor loved ones from a distance. Caregivers can get an alert if a loved one leaves the home at odd hours, and can track eating, sleeping, and movement habits using a smartphone app.

Other companies, such as Lively and BeClose, offer sensors for bedrooms and pillboxes, enabling caregivers to ensure their loved ones maintain safe and healthy habits. Companies such as Lowe’s and AT&T have also begun marketing monitoring kits that can be used to help those with Alzheimer’s. Many people with Alzheimer’s are forced to move to assisted living when their safety becomes an issue, so these devices can prolong the period of safety, allowing seniors to maintain somewhat independent lives.

Other Ways to Prolong Independence

New technologies aren’t the only option for prolonging seniors’ independence and improving quality of life. Other techniques include:

  • Mindfulness training. According to a recent study, both caregivers and Alzheimer’s patients can benefit from learning to focus on the present moment.
  • Automating bill payments and other recurring responsibilities so that memory challenges don’t give rise to financial concerns.
  • Maintaining a detailed calendar, and keeping a clock in plain view so that time management is easier.
  • Remaining intellectually, physically, and socially active. Regular activity can prevent dementia and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s.
  • Setting up reminders. A smartphone app that reminds the person with Alzheimer’s to attend doctor’s appointments, call loved ones, or take medication can make life much easier.

References:

  1. Blaszczak-Boxe, A. (2014, August 27). Mindfulness training helps Alzheimer’s patients and caregivers. Retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/mindfulness-training-helps-alzheimers-patients-and-caregivers/
  2. Kelly, H. (2014, August 26). Sensors let Alzheimer’s patients stay at home, safely. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/25/tech/innovation/alzheimers-smart-home/
  3. Scott, P. S. (n.d.). Memory enhancers for dementia. Retrieved from http://www.caring.com/articles/memory-enhancers-for-alzheimers

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  • Dora

    Dora

    August 30th, 2014 at 12:43 PM

    wonderful wonderful idea for the families who need help with watching over their parents if they are not available to be there 24 hours per day to do it

  • Peter

    Peter

    August 31st, 2014 at 7:39 AM

    All of these ideas are wonderful and are bound to be quite useful, but I would never want someon to think that this could be a substitute for actually taking care of their family members and spending quality time with them.

    For most older people the idea of having to spend so much of their time alone is truly frightening, and this could actually make more families apt to do that. They think that with this technology available that the family member is safe and that it is alright to leave them by themselves.

  • Joanne

    Joanne

    August 31st, 2014 at 10:01 AM

    It might also be a pretty good idea for assisted living facilities because you hear about elderly people wandering off from those places too.

  • ella

    ella

    September 2nd, 2014 at 4:04 AM

    These are all things that most of us can be doing all along so that if there comes a time when we start losing our memory bit by bit, these are already habits that are engrained in us and will be easier for us to continue to follow because of the routine of it all. It also helps when our family members get older we help them continue with these lists and little reminders along the way so that they can have us helping them a little but still feel as if they are maintaining their independence as well.

  • Jerri

    Jerri

    September 2nd, 2014 at 4:03 PM

    Automatic bill pay has been a lifesaver for us.

    My mom would get to where she would forget to pay the power bill or the water bill and the next thing you would know then her utilities would be shut off.

    Working with her bank to get auto payments established has been wonderful for us because that is one less thing that all of us have to think about because between doctor visits and general day to day things it was all getting to be too much. That saves us from even having to worry with that and it ensures that there will not come a time where her home won’t be safe for her.

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