More than 400,000 Australians live with dementia, and it costs us $15 billion a year. But now new technology is making life easier for people with dementia, their carers, and family and friends.
Here are five high-tech dementia busters that help people deal with dementia in their lives.
1. Virtual reality films take viewers back to a familiar time in history.
Do you remember happy times from your childhood? What was the world was like when you were at primary school? High school? Raising a family?
Imagine being able to step into a time machine and going back into that world, and reliving what you saw, what you heard, and how you felt. Thanks to the incredible power of virtual reality, that time machine exists right now.
In the UK, the Wayback Project helps people with Alzheimer’s relive some of the happy memories from their past using virtual reality. In one of their VR apps, they transport people back to the Queen’s Coronation in 1953, which many older people remember as a happy memory. This is not like looking at black-and-white TV footage from that date. It’s like stepping right into it, as if you were there.
2. Listen to popular music from your youth.
What music do you remember from your childhood? What did your family sing at home? What kind of music did you first like as a teenager? What about on your first date? Or that you both liked in a relationship?
Music brings back happy memories, and Spark Memories is a special radio station that takes you back into the past to relive those memories. It’s an app on your phone that plays popular music from the past. You just give it your date of birth, and it automatically creates a playlist of popular songs from when you were younger.
3. Know when somebody is wandering off.
If you’re caring for somebody with dementia, one of the things you worry about the most is that they wander off, so you’re always worrying about where they are and if they are safe. What if you never had to worry about that again?
There are smartphone apps – such as Jiobit – that alert parents of young children if their kids are wandering away from them, and carers of dementia sufferers are using the same apps for their loved ones. It reduces stress, gives you more freedom, and gives everybody more peace of mind.
4. Voice-activated personal assistants answer simple questions.
Sometimes people suffering from dementia struggle to remember the most basic things, like what day it is or even where they live. Instead of being embarrassed by having to ask somebody, they can ask a digital personal assistant – like Siri on their iPhone or Google Home in their living room. It might sound simple, but it can make a big difference to the person and their carer.
5. Record your own voice to play gentle reminders.
Personal connections are really important for people suffering from dementia, and the amazing Alzheimer Master app combines high-tech features with a high-touch personal connection. If you’re caring for somebody with dementia, you can program the app to remind them to take their pills, lock the doors at night, call a friend during the day – all in YOUR voice, so you’re making a more personal connection.