As the number of people living with dementia grows, the cost of caring for them increases. Although many with the condition are able to continue living with friends and family for a number of years, eventually, a high number of people diagnosed with dementia will need residential care.
In an effort to reduce the cost of caring for people with dementia, and give as many people as possible the chance to continue living in their own homes, researchers are looking for ways that technology can support people living with the condition. Experts at a newly opened £20m dementia research centre at Imperial College London are currently in the process of developing a number of new technologies that will make life easier for those living with dementia and allow them to stay in their own homes for longer.
Tech and dementia
There are a number of technologies that are being used in the hunt for useful and practical dementia aids. Researchers are looking at ways to use robotics, Artificial Intelligence, sensors and software for possible solutions to the challenges facing those with dementia, and their families, on a daily basis.
Researchers are focussing on creating a ‘smart home’ that’s specifically geared around the needs of someone with dementia. For example, people with dementia are often prone to dehydration and urinary tract infections. Installing sensors in toilets and reminding people to drink water can help to prevent dehydration and alert carers about urinary tract infections before a lengthy hospital stay is needed.
Elsewhere in the home, sensors can be used to provide doctors and carers with detailed information on a individual’s movements and habits. This can be incredibly useful when it comes to monitoring the progression of the disease and give carers advanced warning of potential problems with mobility and mental health.
These sensors could also be used for sleep assessment, detailed behaviour assessment and monitoring medication effects, brain activity changes and infection. This information could help carers and doctors to stay one step ahead of the disease and give people living with dementia the best quality of life possible.
The homes of tomorrow
At the moment, this specially designed tech is only in the testing stages so it will be a while before we see it introduced into the nation’s homes. However, with this type of tech offering such potential benefits to both individuals with dementia and the cash-strapped NHS, it shouldn’t be too long before AI, robots, software and other resources are found in the homes of those living with dementia.