Technology tools to support people with dementia and family carers
Klara Lorenz | PSSRU, London School of Economics and Political Science
Around the globe, anticipated increases in people with dementia will mean more individuals directly affected by the side effects and symptoms, and more people serving as unpaid family carers. Among people with dementia there will be variation in needs due to the specific type of dementia involved, and to the stage or severity of symptoms. These in turn will have an impact on family carers. Often vulnerable and at risk themselves, whether they be spouses, children, or others, carers frequently find themselves with little support or attention to their needs, even from those agencies providing services to their loved ones.
Relatively new resources to support people with dementia and family carers come from the expanding range of technology tools and technology-assisted services now available and under development. Ranging from simple remote sensors to somewhat exotic avatar-based 24/7 services, these new tools promise increased learning and information, ‘how-to-handle’ resources on demand, greater safety and security for the loved one, reduced carer stress and burden, increased independence and time at home for the patient, reduced hospital and medical costs for patients and carers, and improved quality of life.
Based on data collected through scoping studies in several countries, this presentation will 1) review the range of technology tools and technology-assisted services available to patients and carers at different levels of severity and different stages of the long term care journey; 2) summarize the available evidence regarding the effectiveness of these tools; and 3) describe some of the challenges that must be addressed to provide both better information about effectiveness and broader utilization by the very people with dementia and carers who need them.