It can be especially worrisome for adult children and other family caretakers during this crisis when their aging loved one has dementia or mobility issues and lives alone. There are a variety of technology devices on the market that are designed specifically around those issues. However, as nifty as these devices might sound, choosing the right ones for your senior takes some thought and planning. For example, a smart watch that monitors heart rate and other vital signs is a great tool, but if your Mom
won’t wear it, it’s of little use.
A recent AARP article recommended that in selecting technologies you consider:
How advanced is the person’s dementia?
Is the user comfortable with technology?
How will the technology be set up?
Who will make sure it’s charged and used?
Could it cause agitation or concern in the person with dementia?
Is a Wi-Fi connection necessary?
Does it solve an important need or bring joy?
Three specific technologies the article recommends are:
Alzheimer Master. The free version of this mobile app contains functions for things like reminding your loved one to take their meds or displaying photos of familiar places and faces. The paid version includes additional features like enabling you to record reminders in your own voice and notifying you if your loved one leaves their home. The app can also record the user’s reaction to reminders and messages so you can keep track on how they are doing on a regular basis.
Jiobit. This device, originally designed to keep track of kids (and co-designed by an Alzheimer’s researcher) works with your Android or Apple device to help you keep track of your senior who might wander off. The device even learns the person’s usual movements and alerts you if they go somewhere else.
Spark Memories Radio. This device was designed by Alzheimer’s researcher and musician Dr. Rudolph Tanzi in collaboration with music and technology experts. Based on research that music can have a powerful effect on reducing depression in patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s, Spark Memories Radio allows you to create a personalized playlist for your loved one that will “spark” happy memories, reduce agitation and increase brain activity.
Pet therapy has been shown to be an effective tool for calming nerves, recovering from trauma, and overcoming loneliness. But for seniors with dementia or mobility issues, caring for a pet can be challenging. Enter Tombot, a robotic emotional support animal. Designed to mimic the looks and behaviors of a real dog, Tombot puppies are touch interactive, respond to voice commands, and have a battery that lasts all day. And the only care they require is plugging them in overnight.