Dementia is a progressive and long-term condition requiring a long-term case management approach as the condition develops and becomes more serious requiring further support and resources. Early detection and assistance is important as this has has the potential to affect outcomes in the short and medium term and can impact on the quality of living both for the individual and their carer. Getting support at the earliest stage is therefore important.

There are several Pilots across the country looking at developing this type of approach with case managers being able to cross organisation cultures and use shared resources. The National Dementia Strategy is focussed on early intervention through early diagnosis, better information and support together with a seamless transition of services as the condition progresses, to ensure continuity of care. Improved training and education on Dementia is required across the whole range of the professional care sector starting with early diagnosis, to provide the necessary skills and understanding of this condition and how it impacts on their clients.

It is now believed that some 850,00 currently experience some form of dementia and this will steadily rise as the impact of living longer takes effect on the demographics.

Technology can have an important part to play in helping to support and manage daily living activities for those with dementia and to support carers, especially if introduced at an early stage. Here are some examples of stand alone technology which could offer support.

Wanderer reminder B.I.M.E. Wander reminder

This is an example of a simple device which uses a pre-recoded message activated by movement  around say the front door. It uses a PIR detector to trigger the message on the device, the message can be recorded by a family member and could include something like – ” have you remembered to take your front door keys” or  perhaps something like “mum please do not go out I shall be home shortly”

It can be wall fixed or freestanding.

The timer which comes with it allows it to be set to operate at key times during the day.

Another simple device is the electronic calendar

forget-me-not-calendar

This calendar displays the day, date and time of day i.e. morning, afternoon etc. to give the individual some sense of awareness of time. There is room available for a picture which could be something pretty and meaningful or it could be of a relative to encourage viewing the calendar.

Managing dementia can be helped by providing clues, prompts or reminders to re-inforce certains positive aspects of behaviour and to assist when memory is a little clouded. Visual devices can play a part, many of us use Post-it notes stuck on our computers, fridges etc. so why not clear signs attached to certain areas to act as a reminder to do things or to manage an activity.

The picture telephone is an example of providing a pictorial prompt or reminder to enable an individual to communicate. The pictures are of family or friends and they are mounted on speed dial buttons so that all the user has to do is press the picture of the person she wants to communicate with, there is no need to remember the telephone number.

photophone

Here is another useful reminder device – a clock with the day of the week.

Day of the week clock

Day of the week clock

A simple clear design with large clear figures to enable recognition of both time and day of the week.

Carousel Pill Reminder Carousel Pill Reminder

Taking medication correctly and at the correct time is important in managing a number of conditions and supporting independence.

This device can be preloaded with 4 daily dispenses for up to 1 week or 2 daily dispenses for 2 weeks. It has an audio visual alert with the alarm sounding for 30 minutes and a flashing LED on the upper surface. It is locked after loading and the medication can only be accessed for each of the time periods. When the dispenser is turned upside down to release the contents the alarm will then be cancelled.

Ideally, this type of device needs to be introduced early so that a pattern of behaviour is established to reinforce its use. It is certainly useful for those who are just a little forgetful or in the mild stage of dementia. Eventually the cognitive awareness of the purpose of the alarm by the individual  may diminish to such an extent that it can no longer be relied on to dispense medication and personal intervention by way of a carer will be required.

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