Can Technology Assist Caregivers in Keeping Alzheimer's Patients Safe?
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Can Technology Assist Caregivers in Keeping Alzheimer's Patients Safe?

By Pharma Tech Outlook | Friday, October 11, 2019

The diagnosis of Alzheimer/ dementia is getting intricate day by day. However, some technological tools have emerged as a savior for both patients and caregivers. 

FREMONT, CA: As per the Alzheimer's Association, around 47 million people across the globe have Alzheimer's and other dementias. While researchers are always engaged in looking for cures, technology is helping caregivers improve the safety of their loved ones. 

With the number of Alzheimer's patients increasing day by day, it has become vital for the technology to step in. Technological tools have become more affordable and user-friendly for patients with Alzheimer's as well as their caregivers.

Following are some of the technological tools for persons with Alzheimer/Dementia

Talking photo albums

Talking photo albums contain images of loved ones, each with a button. On pressing the button, a recorded message is played, which explains whatever is on the page. This approach helps the affected people remember their loved ones and precious moments in the past. The pages also comprise practicalities such as management of medications (medicine pictures), reminders like appointments, and guidance for operating appliances like a microwave washing machine.

Telepresent robots        

This futuristic and spectacular telepresence robot called Giraff allows caregivers to visit their loved ones and move around the house without actually being present there. Giraff is actually a screen on a post that is operated from a distance through a mouse over the internet. With sturdy wheels, Giraff can freely move about its screen angling up and down, thus giving the loved one the feeling of being present in the room. It empowers the caregivers to visit remotely and keep track of the patients for issues like safety hazards.

Dementia-friendly speakers

Music is an excellent way of accelerating the healing process. So it is worth investing in designing simple music speakers for Alzheimer's patients. Many recorded studies revealed the striking effect of music on people with dementia and Alzheimer's. In one study, people with Alzheimer's experienced a sudden, measurable increase in happiness, talkativeness, and eye contact, and a decrease in fatigue after listening to 20 minutes of music. Some devices need only a thick handle to be lifted for starting the music and then be lowered to stop or pause it. 

Adapted telephones

Adapted telephones are reprogrammed with essential phone numbers and are featured with big, easy to use buttons. For example, the Future Call Picture Care Phone contains images of loved ones' faces on the pre-programmed buttons corresponding to every person.

Automated pill dispensers

There are various kinds of automated pill dispensers that are programmed to flashlights, beep, or make a signal when it is time for medication. It dispenses the accurate amount needed into something such as a dosage cup. Several alarms can be set every day. It also contains the feature of dispensers that can record voice reminders.

Following are some of the technological tools for the caregivers to take care of their loved ones.

Medical Alerts

Medical alert systems like Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS), can be a matter of life and death in cases of emergency. These devices can detect falls and dispatch emergency personnel to the individual's home. These devices also empower the patients to contact emergency services with one click on the button. These are often clipped to a pocket or even worn on a lanyard around the neck. They also contain features like GPS tracking. Its advanced version uses motion sensors to detect movement and alert the caregivers of specific activities such as extended usage of the stove. 

In-home video monitors

In-home video cameras can be set at strategic locations such as at medications in the main living room or bedroom or bathroom where the patients with Alzheimer's spend the most time. Clear and constant feeds can be supervised via smartphones or online. They also possess cameras with speakers that empower caregivers to communicate with their loved ones like an intercom. They can also be programmed to alert the caregivers if no movement is detected after a set amount of time. 

Appliance Use Monitors

As the stages of Alzheimer's advances, things like forgetting to switch off lights become a great issue. Appliance use monitors help the loved ones to keep a check on coffeemakers, microwaves, TVs, lamps, etc. These devices are plugged into a wall outlet or a powerstrip and enable the caregiver to monitor if their loved one has switched off whatever they were operating. These devices can also be voice-controlled that allow the caregivers to turn off something that the patient has forgotten to. 

Location Trackers

Wandering is problematic behavior, especially for people with dementia. Location trackers include GPS, which helps in locating the wanderers. These devices also alert the caregivers if the patient crosses a specific area (geofencing). These are small and can be clipped to the clothes or in a pocket. They can also be easily worn on a lanyard.

Technological tools have made the life of dementia/Alzheimer's patients much easier and also provided peace of mind to their caregivers.

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