Caring for a patient with dementia at home can be demanding as it may subsequently require all-round monitoring, especially as the illness progresses. While some families may be able to afford a live-in caregiver, others choose to make use of the increasingly available innovations to make the environment safer for their loved ones.

Rapid progress in technology has broadly redefined our lives and this also has wide potential in dementia care. Below, we explore some ways that can be useful to help families who have a loved one living at home with dementia.

1. A patient with dementia may forget that a tap has been left running in the bathroom or a pot has been left cooking unattended on the kitchen stove. With smart sensors, these can be shut down instantly and an alarm can be raised to avert dangerous situations.

2. Common but important items like house keys can often be misplaced around the house. These can be tagged to a locator sited on a wall, which the patient with dementia can press on to emit a beeping sound to locate the lost item.

3. If a patient with dementia requires some kind of help at home or should they be lost, a panic button worn by the dementia patient can alert caregivers or those nearest to her.

4. A patient with dementia may leave the home without the knowledge of her family members. Carers can be alerted of this with movement detectors to monitor the patient’s activities, as well as inactivity at home.

5. For a patient with dementia who chooses to go out of the house, a high-tech personal alarm system worn around the wrist with GPS tracking can give security and confidence for both patient and carer.

6. Automatic calendars can help to remind a patient with dementia on the date, day, time and whether it is day or night, to prevent disorientation.

7. Therapeutic robots have also been widely used in some countries, with one such technology firm producing robotic seals. Providing a healing effect to dementia patients, the robot appears as if it is alive, moving its limbs and making sounds. This technology has also been especially useful in care facilities where there is difficulty obtaining live animals for therapy.

8. A common problem with late-stage dementia is the sense of smell, affecting appetite and hence weight loss. One innovation by a company in England attempts to address this with a technology that releases certain food aromas at a set timing throughout the day, like before mealtimes. These aromas prompt certain moods or behavioural responses and help dementia patients to enjoy their meals again.

By integrating current dementia aids with advances in robotic technology and digital communications, we can offer new ways for people suffering from dementia to have a better quality of life, support the patient’s dignity and enable the individual to live safely independently.

On the same note, we should not overlook the benefits of technology and become overdependent on it. Caregivers and healthcare providers must still be vigilant and monitor the dementia patient for any oversights and loopholes.

Technology can be made unobtrusive and blend into the environment, making it unknown to the intended user. It is also advancing very rapidly, making more things possible. The number of ways that technology can help is limitless and the tools that have emerged in the market are helping to provide the much-needed assurance to families of dementia patients, especially those who are separated by physical distance. MIMS

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