Technologies help with dementia

Digital Journal has written an op-ed article citing one of my research articles!! You can access my 2012 article, “The future of assistive technology for dementia” as an open-source article through the journal Gerontechnology. You can also read the original op-ed by

Op-Ed: Technology helps families cope with challenges of dementia

By Kimberly Reynolds     Feb 17, 2014 in Technology

The challenges of dementia and other age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease are difficult on the patient, family and caregivers alike. Technology eases the burden.

“Advances in technology as instrumental in helping provide a safer living environment for residents,” says Emeritus Senior Living. It also gives families peace of mind of knowing their loved ones are receiving the best case possible.

Advances in technology available to residents and caregivers include innovations in the field of communication and assisted technologies. Assisted technology refers to technology that assists a resident in performing a task that they would otherwise be unable to do. The term can also denote a technology that helps with the ease and safety with which the task can be performed.

Communication technologies such as social media, instant messaging and pagers differ from assisted technology in that they provide increased ability to communicate between all parties involved.

Promote Independence

For many residents, these products can be of great use to promote independent living within a supported environment. Some of the tools have been around for years while others are cutting-edge treatments.

These new technologies, assisted and otherwise, give residents a greater degree of independence, which in turn makes it easier for family members and caretakers according to Emeritus Senior Living.

Patient Prompts

Short-term memory is one of the first things affected by many forms of dementia. By using automated prompts, residents are reminded to take medications and attend appointments. They can even be alerted to when their family is coming to visit.

This simple reminder gives residents more control of their lives. For the caregivers and families, it gives them peace of mind that the resident is following their prescribed routines and treatments.

Ease of Use

Improvements in technologies also include those that help a resident with communication, such as an easy-to- use phone. Ring tones can be modified to include blinking lights or specialized sounds to lead a resident to where the telephone is located.

Telephones are now available that have large, easy-to-use keypads for those that are coping with symptoms such as severe shaking. Having access to an easy-to-use telephone provides security and safety for all.

Safety Gains

The home safety devices used by can be the difference

between life and death. Detectors can alert the staff to smoke, gas, floods or any number of potentially life-threatening situations. These devices reduce the need for continuous physical monitoring of the living space, adding to a sense of independence for the resident.

The advances in smartphone, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), and GPS technology are being used to assist residents who may become disorientated by their surroundings. Specialized apps can guide a patient back to their homes or alert family or caregivers to their location.

Social Media Updates

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter or Google+ are used by Emeritus Senior Living to update family and friends on new research and therapies for residents. They also provide assistance so residents can keep up to date on the postings from friends and family.

Although these communication tools are not assisted technologies, their use can greatly improve the independence and quality of life for residents. Staying connected with loved ones is a vital aspect of a purposeful and fulfilling life.

Future Potential

Many of the assisted technology innovations for treatment of dementia and other age-related conditions are still in the trial phase. In a paper titled The Future of Assistive Technologies for Dementia, authors Carrie Beth Peterson, Neeli R. Prasad and Ramjee Prasad tracked the changes that will someday be an everyday part of treatment.

Their report discusses the use of Zero Effort Technologies (ZETs) that use algorithms to collect, analyze and apply the data for use in gait sensors and accelerometers for patents having difficulty with mobility.

Advances in robotics are proving there is a strong connection between companionship and care-giving. Not only does the robot assist with everyday tasks, the residents bond with the devices, often giving them names. These and many other assisted technologies will someday be the standard of care for a wide range of individuals, including those with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Until then, Emeritus Senior Living will continue to take advantage of the advances in technology to help residents, families and caregivers cope with the challenges of dementia.

This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of

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