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King Farm Blog

IKF Blog
Posted: Wednesday, October 7, 2020

High-tech memory care: the role it can play for those with dementia

It seems almost impossible to live in today’s world without the advantages of technology. It can make life easier, although there are no denying glitches and spotty Wi-Fi can be challenging. Whether we’re connecting with old friends with our smartphones or no longer getting lost thanks to the GPS in our cars, technology has made a difference.  

And it’s no different when it comes to the role it might play in senior living. Considering how it can help those with Alzheimer’s remain at home or maintain their independence a little longer, technology is a game-changer and one you’ll also find in memory care communities.

Examples of high tech in memory care

The following is a brief review of the advantages that some products provide to both the individual with a cognitive illness and the caregiver.

1. Staying in touch

Everyone benefits when they can instantly connect with those who either live around the corner or across the country. Audio gets the job done but seeing a face that matches the voice makes video chats popular. FaceTime, Skype or Zoom are some of the more prevalent services.

2. Home monitoring devices

For those with dementia who are still living at home, installing power strips or wall outlets that alert caregivers if appliances haven’t been turned on or off can provide additional safety. Devices can also turn lights on and off, adjust the thermostat and have the ability to send an alert via a smartphone.

3. Location and tracking devices

For those who wander, technology can alert the caregiver immediately if someone has left the home or area. Emergency personnel can also be notified promptly so the search and safe return of a loved one is quicker. Some programs allow setting up a geofence area. Devices can also learn the usual movements of the person and will alert if this changes.

4. Home care robots

Although not a replacement for human caregivers, those with artificial intelligence can handle the housekeeping, remind people to take their medicine on time or alert caregivers or medical professionals if assistance is needed.

5. In-home cameras

Cameras can be set to view certain items, such as medication, so a long-distance caregiver can ensure their loved one is staying up to date. They can also be aimed at living areas to capture activity. Some cameras also allow conversations.

6. Medication management

Traditional methods have come a long way from the pillboxes with the days of the week or setting an alarm on your watch. Today there are automated dispensers that beep and open when it’s time to take the medication.

7. Voice-activated assistants

Those with early stages of Alzheimer’s can feel comforted and in more control with these assistants. Once programmed, they can read audiobooks, tell jokes, play games, control the thermostat and answer questions.

The downside of technology

Although the benefits of today’s tools continue to increase, there are also downsides. And one concern often raised is whether the technology itself will provide a false sense of security, causing the individual to be left alone when it’s not safe to do so.

Another shortcoming is user interference. For example, a GPS bracelet can be a good solution for those who wander but they can also cause agitation. If the individual takes it off, it’s no longer useful. Or it may stay on but greatly frustrate the individual and increase anxiety. 

And even older adults who don’t have dementia can get in the way of the best safety plans. Many have refused to wear an alert button even with their family’s insistence. Or they won’t press it because they fear it will provide evidence that they no longer can live at home alone.

When technology is not enough

Alzheimer’s is a progressive illness and for most people, the escalation of behaviors and level of care needed will outpace what a caregiver can provide at home, even with the help of technology. But if you make the decision to move your loved one to a memory care community, you’ll find they are also taking advantage of the benefits.

How technology can enhance the quality of community life

Here are a few examples of what you might find and how they’re used:

Touchscreen tablets

  • Transmits messages, newsletters and other community information

  • Access to information and schedules for personal calendars

  • Provides weather reports, as well as the local and national news

  • A way to stay in touch with friends and families

  • Allows participation in learning opportunities and stimulating brain exercises such as puzzles and games

Audio and interactive storybooks

  • Offers an opportunity for those who find it easier to listen to a book rather than read

  • Some programs offer pet avatars to help engage the residents and provide emotional support

Xbox or Wii game consoles

  • Includes programs that promote healthy exercise while having fun, such as virtual bowling. Competitions are often scheduled between residents or communities

Wearable and in-room devices

  • Pedometers or other monitors worn by the individual can track their daily steps or other fitness challenges

  • Personal emergency response alarms can provide an instant alert if help is needed

  • Activity sensors and locators offer enhanced safety to the residents and can detect if someone has tried to leave a certain area

Medical assistance

  • Telemedicine visits between the resident and their physician often increase the interaction between the two and catches any problems earlier

  • Computer analytics of data can quickly detect changes in health

Ingleside at King Farm Memory Support Assisted Living

At Ingleside, we understand the role that technology can play in helping us provide the best possible care for your loved one. We continue to support its use and all other methods that can make communication or connection easier and we take the necessary steps to honor the privacy and safety of our residents.

But of course, our priority is to always offer your loved one person-to-person care which can never be replaced by even the most advanced technology. You’ll find our compassionate and well-trained staff, therapeutic programs, nutritional meals and activities are all designed to encourage our residents to live their most engaged life.

Call (240) 455-4582 if you have any questions or would like to schedule a personalized tour today.


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