Technologies for living with dementia

Since beginning the Care Technologist project, the team have picked up from conversations that there can sometimes be a misconception that technologies do not fit into a support plan for people living with dementia. This is suggested partly due to a gap in understanding the variety of ways people and technology can interact together. We are going to de-bunk this today!

To understand the variety of ways technology exists in our lives, it’s important to first look at our perceptions of what technology is and how we interact with it.

So, what is technology?

The Care Technologist team consider technology to be any device, system or tool that has been scientifically designed with the purpose of enabling and supporting practical living. This means that technology doesn’t have to be plugged in, downloaded, signed up for or turned on – as long as it’s designed for assisting or streamlining practical living, it has a technological use. While technology does not have to be for everyone, the team believe that everyone should have the choice to use technology in their daily lives.

What are the ways that technology interacts?

Secondly, the way we interact with technology can differ. There are many devices, systems and tools that require a user – someone to turn it on, sign up, log in, and operate it in order to access the benefits. Some technology requires this only at the beginning of use, others not at all. The latter technology is simply working in the background, supporting practical living just by being there – providing prompts and reminders, sensory support, allowing communication and monitoring safety. This sort of technology can be especially useful for those who don’t want the burden of managing multiple devices, being responsible for charging and updating it, or don’t have the knowledge of how to do these things.

Finally, when considering how technology can support people living with dementia, it’s important to be aware of the varying stages and types of dementia, and how different symptoms can interact or affect technology use. There are over 200 sub-types of dementia which present different challenges, ranging from changes to mobility, cognition, sight and judgement (data from Dementia UK). Some technology will be more suitable for some people than others, but there will always be technology to support people, regardless of the type of dementia they live with.

With this in mind, we’ve compiled a shortlist of technology we are currently working with that supports practical living, that is especially beneficial for supporting people living with forms of dementia.

Kettle Companion

Kettle Companions (a small light-up sphere) can be placed in a loved ones’ home to allow light touch monitoring. A secondary twin device is placed in a family member’s home which will turn to a different colour when their loved one is boiling their kettle, or in the instance the kettle hasn’t boiled by a pre-set time.

Locating tags

Tags are a versatile tracker for keys, bags, phones, remote controls and more. This device works with Bluetooth, can be managed via smartphone app and can pinpoint a lost item on a map. If you have the tile handy, it’s possible to reverse the locator and find the smartphone too.

Hydration reminders

These small devices attach to any water bottle or standard sized glass and blink to remind you to hydrate, can detect when you take a drink. Ideal reminders for those who need a gentle prompt to stay hydrated, but only use a blinking light to do so – therefore not ideal for those with low vision. We’re looking for other hydration reminders that support a wider range of people, so stay tuned!

Companion pet

Robotic pets such as cats are great for homes unable to host animals and have proven to be a therapeutic aid for people living with dementia. The team have seen these pets work wonders for residents in a care home setting and bring lots of joy to those around them!

  • Cat purrs, sleeps, reacts to attention
  • Can be muted while turned on
  • Uses batteries

Universal remote

A simplified TV remote can be a small adjustment to make, but great for improving independence. The remote pairs to any TV, and reduces the button varieties to just the essentials.

  • Large buttons that are easy to press and well-spaced out
  • Ideal for people living with dementia or with low visibility

If you would like to know more about technology that we are using to support people to live well and independently, we have collated a catalogue of technology we are currently using in the Care Technologist project. If you would like to be sent a copy, please email [email protected] and specify if you would like a digital or paper copy.

For more information on technology, dementia and assisted living, we think these links below are worth a look at too:

Last Updated on 16th March 2023 by Shanice