Technology to stay independent
The number of working age people per older person is expected to drop globally by more than 50 per cent over the next years. Can technology provide support without compromising care?
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The issues about the invasion of privacy are complex but some carers find it brings peace of mind if they can see their loved one on a camera. It can also help review the reason for incidents, like a fall.
Some useful options
Fixed wi-fi smart cameras which, depending on model, can run purely on batteries, very helpful if no plug socket is available, can record up to seven days of video, subscription-free, triggered by movement and/or audio detection, for later review, as well as offering live streaming, via mobile phone apps.
The Arlo cameras also connects into IFTTT for carers wanting a camera which can control other smart home devices.
Find out more: Netgear Arlo
Fixed wi-fi smart cameras which offer seven days of video/audio, subscription free, triggered by movement detection, for later review, as well as offering live streaming, via mobile phone apps.
Find out more: Y-cam
Wi-fi cameras which allow the camera to be controlled remotely, using a computer or mobile phone, allowing the carer to pan or tilt the camera. The camera also provides two-way sound communication.
Find out more: Foscam
If the carer wants to monitor the people with dementia more intensely, and is in the same property, a baby cam might be a more appropriate solution.
Case study: Using a camera
John (not his real name) lives with his mother, Margaret (not her real name). John is currently working night shifts. Concerned about leaving Margaret during the night as she was prone to falling, he discussed putting a camera in her bedroom with her so he could see her during his shifts. Margaret agreed. Having the camera up on his screen whilst he was working was reassuring for John. Once he had to call Careline Telecare when he spotted that she needed help. Another time he could also see that she was eating crisps which she shouldn’t be doing as she was trying to diet! His mother felt comforted by the camera and knew that her son could see her. She used to wave to him.
We are familiar with smoke and gas detectors. But other forms can be used to detect when someone falls or if a dispenser has not been opened, therefore signalling that the person has not taken their drugs.
Some useful ideas
Smoke and carbon monoxide alarm, which can alert carers, via internet/mobile, if it detects anything concerning. This would be especially useful for carers who are caring for people with dementia who live in their own homes.
Find out more: Nest Protect
It could be useful to Monitoring the quality of the air in the home environment can help to ensure the health and wellbeing of the person with dementia.
The Foobot measures the particles in the air, and alerts carers when an incident occurs, which could be for a range of reasons, including cooking and heating.
Find out more: Foobot
A family of smart sensors that you can set to monitor a range of factors, which can then be used to provide alerts to the user or the carer, or to action events on compatible smart home devices. Some examples include alerting if medication hasn’t been taken, or if the number of steps taken that day is below average, to ensuring the temperature is at its optimum.
Energenie Mi|Home Motion sensor
A smart home device, which can be used to alert via mobile phone, when motion is triggered, possibly to alert when a person with dementia goes near the front door.
Find out more: Energenie Mi|Home Motion sensor
Energenie Mi|Home Wireless Open Sensor
A smart home device, which can be used to alert via mobile phone, when a door, like the front door, or fridge door is open/closed.
Find out more: Energenie Mi|Home Wireless Open Sensor
For people with dementia living at home, it is important they eat well, and a vital consideration for carers is how to do the grocery shopping.
There naturally are many options here, and much will depend on the care arrangement, but here are some technology based ideas which could help:
Some useful ideas
Amazon Fresh (using Amazon Dash)
Amazon is new to the world of groceries, but its Amazon Fresh service, supplied in conjunction with Morrisons, works with a new device called the Amazon Dash.
This wand, which can magnetically attach to the fridge, can be used to barcode scan, or vocalise, the items you need to add to a grocery shopping basket. It saves the need for specific visits just to check what groceries are needed by the person with dementia.
Find out more:
Milk and more
Milk and more, aka the milkman, provides a regular delivery service for essential items like bread and milk. The great thing about this service is there is no minimum order, and no delivery charge. One-off and regular orders can be set up and managed online, with money collected by direct debit. This service can be particularly useful when the person with dementia is being cared for by multiple carers, to ensure the essential groceries are always obtained.
Find out more: Milk and more
Wiltshire Farm Foods
Wiltshire Farm Foods provides a range of ready meals, in a variety of different portion sizes, with specialist nutrition ranges available, including a softer product range which could be useful for people with dementia, particularly those who have chewing and swallowing problems. Meals can be ordered in a variety of ways, including online, with a range of payment options, including payment by third parties.
Find out more:
High street supermarkets: Online ordering for delivery
Most High street supermarkets provide an online, desktop PC or mobile app, ordering and delivery service, which could be useful for carers.
Find out more:
Tesco’s dementia friendly checkouts
Some Tesco stores, such as the one in Chester, have dementia-friendly checkouts, for people with dementia who are more independent.
Find out more:
These are being developed to check blood pressure, monitor insulin levels and identify neurological conditions by videoing eye movement. People with chronic conditions like asthma or high blood pressure could be assessed remotely through wearable skin sensors. Smartphone apps will then upload data directly to health records so changes in pattern can be detected and interventions planned.
Some useful links
Smart blood pressure monitor
Smart body weighing scales
Smart heart monitor (ECG/EKG)
Smart body thermometer
Smart air quality monitor
Smart Gluco-Monitoring System
Carers who are managing the finances of a person with dementia, who have a Lasting Power of Attorney, need easy access to this financial information. Most banks provide online and mobile access to bank account information to the carer with Power of Attorney.
However, in many cases the person with dementia also still wants easy access to this information. Some banking mobile phone apps are easier than others. Some banking iPhone apps, once installed and configured, doesn’t require the user to remember any banking or security information. Login is authorised purely by Apple’s TouchID, by the user just putting their finger on the home button of the iPhone. For some this might be an easy way to get access to their financial information.
Find out more about banking apps which use TouchID:
- Barclays banking app
- HSBC banking app
- Nationwide banking app
- Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) banking app
Trackers / Intelligent pendants
A tracker is a type of device which can track a person as they move about and could, for example, provide assistance to find them again using GPS technology. Family members can be confident their loved one cannot wander too far from home. Other devices can alert health workers in the event of a fall or to a change in someone’s walking pattern. Some of these are worn around the wrist or neck. The user can call for help by pressing the button, for example, if they fall. Pendants alert a monitoring centre. Staff can then speak to the person and assess if additional help is needed.
Some useful items
SOS fall detection GPS tracker
This device automatically notifies carers if the wearer of the device falls over, and the wearer doesn’t get up within 10 seconds, by texting and calling a number of carers. The text message, which is sent across the normal mobile phone network, provides a link to the location of the device on Google Maps. The wearer can also initiate an alert, without falling, by pressing the big SOS button, and the unit includes a speaker and microphone, so a conversation can be had with the wearer. Another useful feature is that carers can even call the device, with the call being auto-answered. One concern with such a small feature-rich device is the battery life. But for many this could be an invaluable tool.
Find out more: SOS fall detection GPS tracker
WatchOvers Liberty GPS Watch
A standalone watch-phone bypassing the need for the wearer to also carry a mobile phone or any other device. Using GPS together with GSM and Wi-Fi for enhanced location accuracy, features include; two-way voice communication, SOS emergency alarm, GPS location in real-time tracking, location history and ability to set location boundaries, which will generate alerts if breached.
Find out more: WatchOvers Liberty GPS Watch
A family of smart sensors that you can set to monitor a range of factors, which can then be used to provide alerts to the user or the carer, or to action events on compatible smart home devices. Some examples include alerting if medication hasn’t been taken, or if the number of steps taken that day is below average, to ensuring the temperature is at it optimum.
At present robots do not function at a high enough level or at a reasonable enough cost for most people to consider their use. However, this is likely to change in the near future. Some people believe robots will offer cost-effective support for people to remain living independently if demand for care outstrips provision in the future.
There are many ways apps are useful. To remind a patient to take their medication, to collect and analyse data of person’s vital signs and/or to produce a summary report for a monitoring team. Apps such as RallyRound and Jointly provide a planning tool for families and carers, helping them to share the load of managing and coordinating support for jobs that need doing.
View more ideas from providers and retailers including:
- AT Dementia provides information on assistive technologies (AT) that can help people with dementia live more independently. It also offers a self-help guide to AT, designed to help individuals work out what products might be of assistance.
- Trackershop UK: Dementia trackers
- Tel Me Now
Disclaimer: The products mentioned are to provide ideas for consideration only, none are endorsed by SCIE.