Dementia and technology

Increasingly, assistive technology is being used to support and assist those living with dementia in their daily lives, for a wide range of things. 

Daily living technology aids include the use of existing technology such a tablet or smart phone to assist dementia patients with things such as:

  • Calendars with daily reminders to take medication or to attend an appointment
  • Use communication apps like Skype or video calling rather than using a normal telephone 
  • Location finder apps on the phone to keep an eye on the person’s whereabouts

As well as telephone listening and alert services used by those still living at home to access support or emergency services, various products are available on the market made specifically for those suffering with dementia, including:

  • Movement sensors that play a message to remind someone to switch the oven off or lock the front door 
  • Water isolation devices to turn off a tap if left running
  • Electronic pill dispensers that are pre filled and will sound an alarm or even alert a family member if the medication hasn’t been taken. 

Technology also assists with a person’s wellbeing.  For example, a dementia sufferer’s memory can be aided by using a digital photoframe to show a slide show of photographs, or a computer/tablet can be used to create a life history or photobook for the person.   

Pathing the way for independence

As technology and aids develop, it may be that they allow or assist people living with dementia to remain in their own home for longer, with less need for domiciliary care.  Technology aids may eventually be used in care and nursing homes also to reduce the burden on employees.  

The use of such aids must be carefully considered and assessed, however. Insurers may well see more claims from persons living at home who are incorrectly assessed as being capable of living at home with the assistance of technological aids, and less input from physical carers than in the past.  Insurers may also see claims against the operators or manufacturers of technological devices and systems.  Care homes and nursing homes could also be criticized if they are seen to over rely on assistive technology and if they do; not properly assess the risks of using such devices. 

Further information can be found here:  https://www.scie.org.uk/dementia/support/technology and here:  https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/staying-independent/what-assistive-technology-available

Written by Jennifer Johnston, associate at BLM

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