Many of us use technology on a day-to-day basis, even if we don’t feel we know that much about it. Whether it’s the mobile phones we use to keep in contact with family and friends, the radio and TV that keep us up to date with current affairs, or the wearable pedometers that help us keep fit, technology comes in many easy-to-use formats.
But how can technology help people who have Alzheimer’s disease? Plenty of assistive technologies enable people to live more comfortably, safely and independently, and they can offer family and loved ones more peace of mind. Carefully considering the options will help you choose what’s right for your situation.
Everyday tasks and reminders
One of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease is that you forget things. You may forget that your friend is coming over or forget where you put your keys, or you may start a household task and not remember how to finish it.
Technology can help by offering reminders and prompts. For instance, a calendar on your phone can send you messages about upcoming events or reminders about regular tasks.
Some gadgets can store prerecorded messages and speak them aloud. One beside your front door could suggest that you check to see if you have your phone with you before you leave. There are even devices that can call out, when necessary, the steps needed to finish household tasks and chores.
You might wonder how gadgets “know” that you need these messages. They use a common type of technology called a “sensor,” which allows the technology to be activated when needed.
Sensors can be used to help you find your keys or your wallet. They can switch on lights at night when you get up and move around. They can even register if your front door is left open or if a stove burner has been left on for a long time.
Sensors can also be set up to identify where you are if you are out and about, so that if you get lost or have any doubts about how to get somewhere, the technology is ready to help.
Some assistive technology can alert a monitoring service or contact friends or family if needed. Maybe that front door has been open for hours at night, or maybe there is smoke in the house or a dangerous increase in carbon monoxide levels. In such cases, you might need assistance without realizing it, and this connected technology lets a person of your choice know to check in with you or call for help if needed.
Making tech easier
Some gadgets can be fiddly. Remote controls for the TV tend to have a lot of buttons on them, and smartphone options can be hard to navigate.
Devices and approaches such as streamlined remote controls and simplified phones make these technologies much easier to use. Even setting up “speed dial” shortcuts for family and friends on your phone can make it easier to get in touch.
Things to think about
All people have their own needs and preferences, and different technologies will suit different individuals. Also, people may benefit from different technologies as their needs change over time.
As with all technology, the ethics of these options must be considered, to protect privacy and to ensure they aren’t used to try to take the place of human contact and social relationships. But, used with care, they can make life much easier and more comfortable for people in need.