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Alzheimer’s is a progressive neurological disorder associated with the degeneration of brain cells with time. As the disease progresses it causes severe impact on the memory, thinking, and overall behavior of the individual, at the later phases it becomes even challenging to perform simple day to day tasks.
As per World Health Organization, “nearly 50 million people worldwide are affected with dementia, and there are nearly 10 million new cases every year. Alzheimer disease is the most common form of dementia and contributes around 60–70% of dementia cases”.
As of now there is no permanent cure for the disease. But there are certain medication and management strategies that may temporarily reduce the progression of disease.
Non-electronic items like sticky notes, calendars, notice boards are available in the market for a very long time. The advancement in information and communication technology has brought many revolutionary devices and aids that have significantly improved the life of both caregiver and patients. Some of the devices that have remarkably improved the quality of life of Alzheimer’s patients include:
The Communication devices like smartphones or tablets with software applications like skype, FaceTime and zoom app play an important role in connecting affected individuals with caregivers and other relatives located at distant locations. Some of these devices are specially designed devices with large buttons and designated keys to connect the specific individual or relatives over audio.
Medication aids help in the management of pills. The medication aid devices are available in various forms and sizes. These devices come often with simple pill boxes or automatic pill dispensers that help in reducing the confusion and chance of missing timely medication.
In simple boxes medications are separated into sections according to the days, week or months. It helps the patients in getting the right pill from the box.
Nowadays automated and programmed pill dispensers with timer and alarm are also available in the market. These dispensers automatically provide the pre-filled pills. In some cases if the pills are not taken out by the patients these devices often have the option to alert the caregiver.
Dementia and Alzheimer affected people often forget or lose track of day to day activity. To deal with these cases, reminder messages help them in keeping track of their daily schedule. These devices timely remind the person of their medication, meals, drinking water, bathing and other such activities. If the patient didn’t answer the reminder message, the device can automatically alert the designated caregiver. These devices are available with a button which makes them easy to use and handle.
Clocks and Calendars
Like Reminder Messages, Clocks and Calendars help Alzheimer’s patients to keep a track of time, date, year and season. To deal with the situation various devices and smartphone applications are available that help in overcoming the confusion and anxiety for the patients. The devices are marked with clear, bold and complete words without abbreviations which are easily recognizable and clearly readable. Similarly the software and applications are available over the internet which provides additional features like vibration, flash light, ringtones and customize messages (voices to which the patient is familiar with).
Smart Devices and Virtual Assistants
The smart devices and virtual assistants are the latest enterent, supporting the caregiver and patients in a unique way. These devices can significantly reduce the dependence of Alzheimer’s patients on their caregiver. Virtual assistants (such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri) and smart devices like Amazon Echo, Google Home can perform simple tasks for the patients based on voice command. These tech applications are assisting patients in their daily activity such as making calls, playing video and music, answering simple questions (like day, time and season), reminding medications & appointments and other such tasks. But the most significant impact of these devices is to overcome loneliness and frustration for the affected individual.
Alzheimer’s often leads to hearing and vision difficulties. The reverse is also true that hearing and vision problems can cause Alzheimer in people aged above 65. Hearing aids help in amplifying the sounds including background noise for the patients. New devices are available with automatic volume controls option through mobile applications. These hearing aid devices are helpful in slowing down the memory decline.
GPS Locator (Tracking Devices)
Wandering is a common symptom associated with Alzheimer’s patients. If the patient fails to remember his name, location, family or contact details, the situation becomes critical for both patients and caregivers. The location tracking devices have brought great relief for caregivers. Apart from providing real time location these devices also provide many unique features like panic button, temperature sensors, transit speed, health matrix, location history etc. which enhances the safety of patients and peace of mind to the caregivers.
Besides the devices mentioned above, Electrical appliances use monitoring, robotic technology, in-home surveillance cameras are some of the emerging technologies that are expected to further improve the lives of millions of peoples around the world affected with Alzheimer’s.
Since there is no medication available for Alzheimer’s, the patients are mostly dependent on the caregiver. But the information and communication based tech devices over the short period of time has significantly minimized this dependence at a much larger scale. In the coming years with the implementation of AI and other such technologies these aids are expected to further improve the quality of life of Alzheimer’s patents.