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4 Innovative Technologies for Supporting Dementia Patients

Patients having dementia with or without Alzheimer’s disease can be very challenging to look after. Family members or caretakers must be on their toes at all times to cater to their needs and cope with the patients’ many dementia symptoms and mood swings. Advances in dementia cure and research have pointed to how the patients can be well cared for with simple gadgets. These dementia gadgets may or may not be electronically powered, but have a manageable quality for the patients. Since the primary symptom of different types of dementia is loss of cognitive function or varying degrees of memory loss, these gadgets focus on reminding and informing.

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Scope and Statistics of Dementia Cases

Dementia is a combined term for various persisting brain degenerating diseases that are significantly increasing in the 21st century. Such diseases affect the memory, behaviour, reasoning capacity, and emotions of the person suffering. Currently, there are over 50 million people affected by dementia all over the world. This situation will likely worsen as the years progress, and the need of the hour is to develop creative technologies to help people cope with the challenging condition. These can be a big help to the patients as well as the ones caring for the patients.

The highly worsening disease can affect any person, whether man or woman, rich or poor, of any race or country of origin. Although primarily seen in people over 65, a small margin of people younger than 60 are also affected. A person is being diagnosed with dementia disease every second across the world. The typically prominent types of dementia are Alzheimer’s and Vascular dementia over the last few years, making up about 80% of dementia.

Type of DementiaPercentage
Alzheimer’s disease64%
Vascular dementia16%
Lewy body dementia15%
Frontotemporal dementia2%
Other types3%

Currently, there are no ways to cure dementia. Still, many support groups, organisations, treatments, and supporting technologies have made managing the disease considerably easier.

 

New Technologies to Assist Dementia Patients

Some ingenious technologies made available through research are discussed in detail below.

 

1. Demonstrative Conveying Technology 

The feelings of dementia patients are often overlooked during the disease and treatment. They feel neglected and insecure most of the time. Hence, communicating with their loved ones if they are in a care centre and being looked after by strangers is a tad difficult. Since the family members visit them in person only sometimes, the patients miss them and want to feel close to them. This is why modern communication technology must be provided to the patient which must be easy to use and handle. These devices focus on triggering some memories of the patient by awakening their touch, vision, smell, balance, and sound. They are made aware of some facts and experiences that happened in the past to bring them to reality. Personal memories and social connections are displayed, which helps them come to terms and enhance their well-being in general. They can communicate better with family members distantly or closely with the help of these sense-garden spaces. Sessions are held with the patient, and photographs or videos from the past, certain cooked meals, visits to places, shopping experiences, and vacation times are again displayed, bringing a sense of happiness and keeping them occupied for long hours.

MI-Tale is a communication game wherein the photos or videos from the past are loaded onto the playing device. Additional unrelated photographs are also loaded on the device. The patient is allowed to view and choose those about him or herself by the user. The exciting game helps the patients to remember their past. Know what they feel about the items shown, and instigate the patients to talk about them.

 

2. Medication Guides

Dementia patients must be treated with certain medications to control and overcome specific symptoms. The timing of the medications can be a real challenge to them and ought to stick to a schedule. Since their memory is affected, they need help remembering when and which dementia medications must be taken.

Digital devices are available that store information about the types of treatment, sleeping patterns, diet plan, where to go, how to interact socially, etc. These devices have sensors that absorb the data and connect with the patient through smart pill boxes to dispense medications.

 

3. MEMENTO 

Memento is a specially designed data software-based program that helps those whose memory and cognitive function is badly affected. Three devices help patients manage their daily activities and medications.

    • An all-day device is a digital device that records photographs, and videos of people interacting with and places visited and takes voice recordings from the patient. The patient can view these clips later to understand what activities should be carried out on certain days.
    • A digital blackboard is a tab where daily reminders can be written and digital post-its once an activity is carried out. A digital calendar can be edited based on what needs to be done at what time and day.
    • An intelligent pen enables the patient to take down any notes, explanations, or make sketches or remarks about any chore needed.

 

4.Tracking the Location

Dementia patients have progressively declining cognitive and memory functions. They forget where they are suddenly and wander about since a familiar place can become unfamiliar to them. Adapting to a new business leads to disorientation problems, and they often cannot find their way back home. The patients are sometimes frightened or may subject themselves to dangerous circumstances. Here, digital devices with GPS trackers are efficient and can be worn when the patient needs to head out. Thus, their movements can be monitored by the caretakers or family members at all times. These devices also detect physical falls, and an alert button may be pressed when the feeling of being lost is felt.

Additional smart sensors are practical monitoring devices that can support dementia patients and their caretakers conveniently. These voice-based devices prompt the patients to carry out a particular activity if they do not do it independently. The smart sensors can detect the movements and sense what the patient is doing as the movements are monitored. Taking dementia medications, performing hygienic practices in the washroom, bathing, etc., are some activities prompted and reminded of. The sensors can detect the weather conditions too and give tips like ‘close the window’ or ‘wear a sweater’, etc. They are a big help in emergencies when caretakers or family members are pinged when something is wrong with the patient, as the smart sensors can be connected with smartphones too.

 

Conclusion

With the increase in dementia cases, it is getting tough to care for and manage dementia patients. Being in the digital age allows us access to smart digital devices that can help monitor dementia patients. Such devices have planning programmes that enable the patients to note the activities to be carried out in the day and act as reminders. Tracking devices perform vigilance functions, allowing caregivers and loved ones to track patient movements. Smart sensors prompt the patients to perform specific tasks based on sensing their movements. Pill dispensers with innovative technologies enable patients to take their medications in time. Such devices help manage patients suffering from different types of dementia.

 

FAQ

Does dementia run in families?

Dementia is not an inherited disease and is not passed over to children or grandchildren.

 

What are the 5 early signs of dementia?

  • Loss of memory in minor matters like names and dates, which are not noticed by the patient but by somebody associated with the person.
  • Difficulties in communicating as dementia patients forget certain words.
  • Confusion over the location and losing a sense of where they are is another typical dementia symptom.
  • The patients lose their reasoning power, irrespective of how smart they were before.
  • Dementia patients fail to perform any complex tasks.

 

What is the difference between Dementia and Alzheimer’s?

Dementia is a general disease, whilst Alzheimer’s is a more specific disease. Dementia is one symptom of Alzheimer’s that gets worse with time. Loss of memory and cognitive decline are the main symptoms of dementia. Alzheimer’s has more symptoms in addition to these, like emotional distress. Some types of dementia diseases are caused by physical factors like Lewy body dementia, Frontotemporal dementia, etc.

 

Do people with dementia sleep a lot?

Most dementia patients, especially those with late-stage dementia, sleep a lot, and they may sleep during the day or night.

 

What time of the day is worst for dementia patients?

The later afternoons or evening time is the worst time for dementia patients, and this is when the sun goes down, hence is called the Sundowning syndrome. The dimming light as the night approaches triggers the patients, and it increases confusion, agitation, anxiety, and disorientation, and it may continue or worsen throughout the night. The patients are better in the mornings in bright lighting.

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