Assistive technology can help promote independence for the person with dementia and their carers by helping to manage potential risks and aiding memory and recall. The devices are specially designed to compensate for physical and cognitive functions associated with Dementia. Choices around assistive technology in dementia care should focus on assessing and meeting the needs of the person at a specific time.
Assistive Technologies (AT) can be any device that makes it easier to perform activities of daily living they can be simple or complex. There are two forms of AT, Stand Alone devices, and Telecare products. Supportive technologies help the individual to complete tasks; responsive technologies help manage risk and raise alarms; and preventative technologies prevent harm and raise alarms. Many Dementia caregivers report huge benefits at home from using assistive technologies.
Some examples of assistive technologies include:
Before introducing assistive technologies to your loved one its important to consider whether it will improve their wellbeing. People have different needs, abilities, preferences, and backgrounds so some people may have difficulty embracing Assistive Technology. The main aim should be to maintain independence and autonomy and assistive technology is never a replacement for human support and interaction. A combination of stand alone and telecare devices is common in many households coping with Dementia.
These technologies can be purchased off a shelf and put to use immediately. They do not require any further interaction or communication with a monitoring centre. These technologies can be simple devices such as a clock to support orientation or may be more high-tech such as a sensor and pager that detect movement. Medication dispensers are an extremely important assistive technology which can save lives and vastly improve safety at home.
Telecare devices can only be used as part of the Telecare system. They charge a fee for providing a base unit and sensors and a monthly monitoring fee. A monitoring centre will then follow the procedure agreed with the family. Telecare assistive technologies promote independence at home and can improve standard of living for patient and caregiver. An example of such technology is a panic button. A panic button is an electronic device worn on a bracelet or necklace as part of a medical alert system. When pressed, it sends a wireless signal to a home console which dials alarm monitoring staff and alerts them of an emergency. This device can help put care-givers minds at ease.
Assistive technology has potential benefits for people with Dementia however, first it is crucial to research a wide range of assistive technologies before deciding which is best. It is important not to impede on the privacy of the individual. Technologies also should not be seen as a way to cut down on carer hours. Assistive technologies can assist and aid individuals in their daily lives, but they cannot replace caregivers. Its is also important to not disempower someone living Dementia. Technologies should be introduced when necessary and not pre-emptively so as to preserve independence.