What is your New Year’s resolution? As a Caregiver of someone who is living with dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, a good resolution might be to find tools that can help your day go more smoothly. Or, perhaps you are wishing you could find ways to stay better connected with friends and family because your loved one facing memory loss is becoming less comfortable with social situations. Here are a few new technologies, or new and different ways to use technology, to support you and your loved one.
- Research shows that Caregivers could use a hand, but don’t always know how to ask for help. Likewise, your friends and family want to lend a hand, but don’t always know how to help. This is where the website https://lotsahelpinghands.com/ can be a great help. It is a place to create a care community. It’s free and can be used just like a good old-fashioned sign-up sheet. You can enter dates of medical appointments, times you need to go to the store, good days for someone to come by and visit with your loved one, or dates when you could use someone to bring in a dinner. Your family and friends can go to your page and sign-up for tasks. It also has a password protected area where you can list medications, doctor contact information and special notes that you only want key care partners to see.
- Persons with dementia need daily brain stimulation through activities, music, and reminiscing. This can be difficult to provide while trying to manage a house, appointments and care needs, or a career and family. Consider using a website like https://www.pinterest.com where you can type any topic into their search bar and see photos and fun printable worksheets. Say you want to reminisce about the 1950’s, or look up bible quotes, or motorcycles, or cats, or photos from a place you used to go for vacation. Believe it or not, there’s a Pinterest page for it! Another favorite for music, concerts and music videos of every variety and decade is https://www.youtube.com . You can also use YouTube to look up a video from a favorite sports team’s past winning game, or a car race, or video of the world’s most favorite dogs. In addition to mental stimulation, these short bursts of entertainment can break up a day, provide some much needed levity, and create lovely moments of connection for people visiting someone with memory loss.
- If you are an adult child caring for a parent with beginning stage memory loss, and you still have to go to work, that can be stressful. Especially when your parent needs to get in touch with you during the work day. There are many gadgets you can research to help keep them safe, from sensors and alarms, to registering them with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office Take Me Home Registry (https://www.sdsheriff.net/tmh/index.html). Some families choose to install security cameras where you can visually see how your loved one is doing from your computer or smart phone (like daycare centers install for parents nowadays).
- Helping a person with dementia to use a phone and keep in touch can be challenging. One favorite new gadget that is fairly affordable is the Photo Phone. It has large buttons that hold photos of people your loved one calls regularly. When your loved one presses on a photo, it calls that person, making it simple and easy to use. Amazon carries a variety of photo phone options: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Photo+button+phone
- “Reminder” technology is really booming these days. Everything from flashing pill boxes, to automatic medication dispensers, to wireless speakers that you can set to announce scheduled things throughout the day. (The messages can be as detailed as you would like, for example: “It’s 12:30. It’s lunch time!” or “It’s lunch time! There is a tuna sandwich for you in the refrigerator.”) For some families, the reminders are more helpful for Caregivers than they are for the person living with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. The technology really varies. “Reminder” technology options range from large font clocks with reminder alarms, to high-tech solutions by Apple and Amazon (Alexa, Echo, Dot, Siri are some of the names). You can visit your local electronic store to try the different styles; or ask a teenager/college student in your family to help you decide. They can also help you set it up and give you a tutorial.
Let 2019 be the year you use technology and ask others to help you with your caregiving role. Let’s make a resolution to improve quality of life for you and your loved one in need of care. Most of us would prefer to delay placement in a 24-hour memory care community. Gadgets and tools that provide brain healthy stimulation and reminders will prove helpful, especially in the early stages of memory loss.
For more tips, gadget ideas and the latest technology innovations for memory care, take a tour of Sunshine Care, a community of assisted living homes in Poway, CA (North San Diego County). This grouping of care facilities is cutting-edge. They also have a monthly support group for family caregivers. Learn more at www.sunshinecare.com
Please, if you have some additional technology to recommend to others who are similarly caring for a parent or spouse with dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, consider leaving a comment below and sharing your wisdom. Until there is a cure, we are all in this together.
Categories: Memory Care