Technology to Treat Symptoms of Dementia?
A few days ago, I was working from home and flipped on the TV during my “lunch break.” Dr. Oz happened to be on. I am not a big fan of Dr. Oz as he talks about “quick fixes” and “miracle diets” that I don’t agree with. He often talks about easy “cures” for Alzheimer’s disease that give my clients false hopes. Needless to say, I don’t often choose to “tune in” to Dr. Oz. However, this episode got my brain turning.
He was talking about a pill, not used to treat the symptoms of Dementia, that has a sensor that can digitally know whether or not the medication has been taken. When Dr. Oz turned to selected audience members to ask what they thought of this pill, one person said “I think it would be great for someone with dementia to know whether or not they took their pill.” THIS right here caused some of my food to fall off my fork! This is a common misconception in the field of aging. Technology is a great resource for many, including older adults, however, in most cases it is not an effective treatment for the symptoms of dementia.
With dementia, the brain is actually changing all together. Depending on the type of dementia and the stage, Dementia presents changes in the following areas:
- Judgment and Reasoning
- Impaired Learning
- Sense of time and place
- Physical Ability
- Circadian Rhythm
- Emotion Regulation
A person with dementia will likely have difficulty learning how to use a new microwave, washer or dryer, etc. Some of the newer technology to “make our lives easier” actually doesn’t make it easier for someone with dementia.
With that said, there are some types of technology that do in fact make the symptoms of dementia better. For example, more simplistic remotes, microwaves, and other appliances.
All in all, when it comes to dementia, much of the technology allows caregivers to feel more secure as the person is safer. Some examples of technology to help a caregiver include:
- Pill reminders (for when the caregiver should give the medication)
- Online calendars (for family members to participate and “help out”)
- Cloud sharing, e-mail, group text messages, etc. (to allow updates to get to all members of the family)
- Door alarms
- Bed alarms
- Movement trackers
- Face time and/or Skype
As you can see, many forms of technologies exist to improve the lives of caregivers with dementia and help the person with dementia. However, technology is not a cure or treatment for the symptoms of dementia. What types technology have helped you or someone with dementia?