Technological Advances in Dementia Care

Technological Advances in Dementia Care

By Aditi Joshi

Dementia is defined as a decline in an individual’s mental abilities such as memory, thinking or language that interferes in carrying out activities of daily living. A silent epidemic of dementia is spreading all over the world as people continue to live longer and grow older. It is estimated that in 2015, $226 billion will be spent on caring for people with dementia and this figure is expected to rise to $1.1 trillion by 2050.

Researchers have focused on finding cures for diseases that may cause dementia. In addition to cures, scientists are now focusing on reducing the healthcare cost of dementia. New innovations that facilitate telecare and assistive technologies will add to care for and comfort patients with dementia. With the help of technology, patients with dementia can live independently or with caregivers at home, for a longer time, instead of nursing homes or assisted living.

With the increased use of smartphones, ‘apps’ with a variety of features have been developed to assist patients with dementia. After a loved one gets a diagnosis of dementia, many caregivers seek information about the brain, diseases affecting the brain such as Alzheimer’s and caregiving for dementia patients. Apps such as WebMD or Balance for Alzheimer’s Caregivers bring such information to the fingertips of the caregiver.

Patients with dementia are at risk of wandering away which is a major cause of concern for caregivers. With advances in technology, non-profit organizations like Project Lifesaver can focus on the search of patients who wander. An enrolled client in Project Lifesaver wears a bracelet that allows their location to be tracked. If the caregiver notifies the organization, the rescue team at Project Lifesaver can track the patient and get them home.

For dementia patients living independently, ‘reminders’ are an important tool for conducting various tasks without fail. Apps that provide verbal or visual reminders help dementia patients take their medications as advised by their doctor. Some apps, for instance MedCoach Medication Reminder, can be connected to the pharmacy to refill prescriptions. BrainAid is an app that provides reminder alerts and checks in at the end of each task. If the user reports an incomplete task (for instance, still waiting for the doctor), it recalculates the day as if it were a GPS for time.

These innovations and advancements in technology help patients feel more in control of their lives. Richard Levinson, founder of BrainAid, mentioned that the users of BrainAid report a feeling of being closer to the independence they used to enjoy before the impairment. They also report having a better relationship with their caregiver.


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