A common neurocognitive disorder, dementia is not a disease in itself but is, in fact, an array of symptoms caused by other factors. Memory loss, thinking, reasoning, learning,and impaired decision making are just some of the presenting signs of dementia. With almost 50 known causes, the most common one being Alzheimer’s disease, which accounts for almost 50 to 70% of the reported cases.
When it comes down to dementia treatment, the treatment course is always determined depending on the cause. More than the actual treatment itself with neurodegenerative diseases, patient management is a top priority. It is important to understand the difference between the terms treatable and curable. Dementia can be treated with medications and support but dementia, unfortunately, cannot be cured or reversed. When it comes to treatment, to reverse certain symptoms of the illness, the cause must be addressed.
As this disease progresses, the patient’s condition deteriorates. During the initial stages of the illness, many things can be done to enable the patient to maintain their independence so as to allow their brain to stay active and function well. This will delay the onset of moderate symptoms as well.
Technology and Dementia
Technology has revolutionized the world of healthcare. A multitude of programs are designed to assist patients with all sorts of health symptoms, including dementia. For a person with dementia, understanding the workings of modern technology is nothing short of a challenge. Ever since the advent of iPhones and tablets, touchscreens are making everyone’s lives a million times easier, especially dementia patients as they are now able to interact, communicate and perform different activities with ease. In addition to ease of use, these devices allow them to stay occupied and more importantly, focused.
Whether a patient is in his or her early stages of the illness or in the advanced stages, memory boosting techniques are always helpful, and apps make this process a whole lot easier. A plethora of apps are designed for patients battling dementia, each aiding one or another aspect of dementia management.
Apps that are helping patients with dementia
From daily aid to memory training to relaxation to games to caregiver and general information, following is a list of some apps that are designed to help patients with dementia.
Daily Aid Apps
These apps include those that are designed to address daily reminders such as time of day, medication reminder, monitoring, etc. These apps are installed with a live clock as well as a diary. These tell the patient of the time as well as the time of day. This enables the patient to remember when to perform daily activities such as taking their meals on time, when to go to bed, etc. What these apps are particularly useful for are reminders, especially for medication by alerting the medication about the timings and also when a prescription is due for example MediSafe. This also applies for appointments as well as daily activities and appointments. Some have incorporated a GPS tracker in them as well because dementia patients often tend to forget where they are going and get lost. The tracker in apps like Family Locator GPS Trackerenables family members and caretakers to track the patient. For these, it is crucial that the GPS is activated at all times. In apps like MyTherapy, comprehensive tracking of different measures and keeping a record of them is also very helpful such as blood pressure, blood glucose levels, etc. Some examples of daily aid apps include:
- Dementia Digital Diary
- Dementia Clock
- MediSafe Meds & Pills Reminder
- Family Locator GPS Tracker
Memory Training Apps
One of the biggest issues that arises with the onset of dementia is memory loss which gets progressively worse as this illness progresses from mild to moderate to severe. Memory training apps work by helping improve cognitive skills such as memory, precision, comprehension, processing, etc. These help track and monitor one’s brain health by giving the brain a daily workout of sorts with a variety of activities and as well as tips. Apps like Fit Brains Trainer work with different games and activities by helping the six major parts of brain function namely, language, memory, thinking, concentration, problem solving and vision. Some examples of memory training apps include:
- Elevate Brain Training
- Fit Brains Trainer
- Lumosity Brain Training
- Memory Games Brain Training
As the symptoms of dementia begin to worsen, the patient is often found feeling agitated, distraught and confused. Relaxation apps, as the name suggests, work by promoting mindfulness enabling the patient to focus on something in particular in order to feel stress free. Anxiety and depression are very common outcomes of dementia therefore these apps are particularly useful for relaxation. From coloring activities to soothing sounds to meditation exercises, these apps make life a lot easier for both the patient as well as the caregiver. Following are some examples of relaxation apps:
- My Reef 3D
- Let’s Create! Pottery
- Relaxing Sounds
- Soothing Sleep Sounds
- Relax Radio
Caregiver and General Information Apps
This diverse group of apps are helpful to both the patient as well as the caregiver. Some of these provide patients with information about random topics to aid them in instigating conversations. Others address emergency situations and ways to deal with them through communication. The general approach outline is particularly helpful for those patients who are dealing with anxiety, hallucinations and confusion. Apps like MindMate are of the most help to the guardian as they feature multiple activities such as games, memory saving sections, tips as well as advice for handling different circumstances; an all-rounder. Support and discussion groups like A Walk Through Dementia are also available for caregivers and guardians to interact with one another and share their experiences, information as well as get some advice from seasoned professionals as well. Some examples include:
- Memory Box
- Dementia Emergency
- Alzheimer’s Society Talking Point Forum
- A Walk-Through Dementia
Living with dementia is a challenging battle that must be overcome with patience and dedication. Employ these apps to make your life much easier as well as that of the patient’s.