There has been a huge amount of research to help assist those living with dementia. Read more about the newest tech innovations that could make it easier for an elderly person to stay in their own home.
There are around 850,000 people living with some form of dementia in the UK, according to figures produced by the Alzheimer’s Society, a figure unlikely to fall any time soon. And, many of these are people who desperately wish to remain in their own home for as long as possible.
With today’s greater understanding of the needs of dementia patients, this is more possible than ever largely due to the excellent range of home care services available to older people who prefer the idea of care in their own home as a way of keeping their independence.
Enabling a person who is living with dementia to remain in their own home brings feelings of security and safety. A move, whilst chosen for all the right reasons, can create confusion, fear and even a deterioration in symptoms. Therefore, innovations which empower the individual to stay in their home can have immeasurable benefits for both the sufferer and their family.
To facilitate this, research is ongoing into a raft of new tech innovations which will assist and monitor people to live safely at home through the continual assessment of a patient’s health. Here’s our pick of the best new technologies.
Robotics and AI
Technological research in the field of robotics and AI is moving at an astonishing pace. As well as identifying potential hazards in the home, there are now devices which can continually monitor an individual’s physical health and feed this information back via an app to the carer in real time.
This non-intrusive method of constant monitoring can offer a much greater level of independence in combination with fast and responsive healthcare.
Rapid development in this field is producing robotic devices which can alert someone with dementia to hazards such as liquid spills on the floor or an electrical appliance remaining switched on. Artificial Intelligence using sensors will be able to monitor vital signs like heart rate and blood pressure. And also changes such as a higher bodily temperature or a different gait which could be early indicators of infection or a fall risk. The common scenario of the elderly person with a urinary infection which goes untreated and lands them in hospital could become a thing of the past.
Some of the most popular tech innovations include:
- Movement sensors to alert a carer to an individual’s movements in and around the home.
- Machines and talking clocks that play reminders, for example to remind someone to take medication or turn off the gas.
- Location devices for items that are often misplaced.
- Location devices for individuals in the form of watches and even inner soles for the shoe.
- Simplified mobile phones and remote controls with a limited number of buttons.
Early Tests for Infection
A simple test can be carried out at home to look for common infections which can make the symptoms of dementia worse and these could be sent immediately to the GP.
As technology advances, it will also become much more possible to test and diagnose within the home, without complicated trips to the GP or hospital, allowing for a quick diagnosis and resolution.
Tracking Changes in the Home
Unobtrusive tech could be installed in the home to monitor the patient’s everyday behaviour to detect any changes to cognitive and memory behaviour. Leaving a pan on the hob to boil dry, failing to eat or drink, or forgetting to turn off the gas or TV can be easily detected and avoided before problems arise. Any of the above tests and observations could be carried out using smartphone technology and sent electronically for rapid evaluation.
Technology is helping people all over the world with various illnesses, disabilities and compromised living environments and is continually developing and expanding. And at last doctors, engineers, scientists and tech experts are coming together in a multi-million pound research project to support the UK Dementia Research Institute as they strive to find solutions to enable those with dementia to live safely and happily at home using assistive technologies.
As these technologies become more commonplace, they will also become more affordable, which in turn increases an individual’s hopes of living independently, and safely, for longer.
Care and Tech Innovations Go Hand in Hand
Of course, no matter how high-tech the home is, you can never replace the feeling of safety and security that comes with being cared for by another human being and where dementia is advanced and the patient wants to stay at home there will always be a need for home care services to help with this. But there’s no doubt that as the tech develops it will enable families and carers to intervene at an earlier stage if changes or illnesses are detected and avoid the elderly person needing to go into hospital. Remote care offers the opportunity for an individual to remain at home alone, whilst giving family and carers greater peace of mind that their loved one is living more safely and happily in their own home.