Gadgets to Assist the Elderly with Dementia

2 Aug, 2013 by

Gadgets to Assist the Elderly with Dementia

Gadgets to Assist the Elderly with Dementia: Modern technology has made it possible for dementia sufferers to stay in their homes with the aid of caretakers or to live with family members.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gadgets to Assist the Elderly with Dementia

By Nisha

Dementia strikes the elderly more than any other age group. In the eighteenth century, medical and legal experts recognized the word “dementia” as a description of a mental disorder affecting memory and cognitive function. In the past, families of people with dementia usually had to place them in sanatoriums or asylums. Modern technology has made it possible for dementia sufferers to stay in their homes with the aid of caretakers or to live with family members.

GPS Devices

There are two basic types of devices that people use. The first is a wristband or ankle band that tracks the person. If a person with dementia wanders away from the home or facility, the GPS device allows searchers to find the person. This device is effective for people who lack cognitive thought processes. It is a tool for caregivers more than a tool for the dementia-sufferer.

For people whose dementia is less evolved, a GPS device that helps them find places is helpful. The person uses the handheld device to find destinations, using map displays and voice-activated commands. The user or a caregiver pre-programs frequently visited places, such as grocery stores, friends’ homes, or the medical center, into the device so that it is available when needed.

Cell phones are important tools. Some phones are capable of being a tracking device as well as a GPS-based destination finder. The advantages of a cell phone are that the person can call and request help and the caregiver can contact the dementia patient. With the rise in the need for tools for dementia patients, more companies are developing applications, such as one that allows a person to dial a person by touching his or her photo.

Alarms

Some chairs and beds have built-in alarms that warn the caregiver if the dementia sufferer is getting out of the chair or bed. Often, caregivers prefer portable alarms, which can be either the pressure-pad type or the pull-tab variety, because they easily can transfer these from the bed to the chair. The pressure-pad style senses the person’s weight and alerts the caregiver if he or she rises. The pull-tab style requires the person to wear a garment clip that attaches to the alarm, which alerts the caregiver when the person disrupts the magnetic link.

Door alarms help caregivers know whether the person under their care is leaving a protected area. This may be a house or a room. Some people use baby monitors to oversee a person’s movements.

Other Handy Gadgets

For people who do not have a daily caregiver, automatic pill dispensers can protect them from overdosing or under-dosing on their medications. Electronic calendars that display appointments and other important information can help them keep their doctor’s visits. Low-tech gadgets, such as baby locks on cupboards that contain toxic chemicals and doorknob covers, are often practical.

With the increase in the aging population, more manufacturers are developing tools to help the sufferers and their caregivers. The right combination of gadgets can lessen the handicap of the disease and give the patient a chance to live a productive life. Some people suffering with dementia find the new gadgets confusing and frightful. In these cases, often the caregiver can ease the anxiety with a positive attitude and patient reinforcement.

Nisha represents a site called MHA.org.uk.

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