Smart Supportive Dementia Technology
The world population is aging, and most older adults want to “age in place,” meaning they prefer to live safely and independently in their own home or community. However, people are living longer, and our senior years come with changes and challenges to mobility, cognition, and medical complexity. Staying at home often requires supports and services to maintain health and wellbeing, and for older adults living with dementia, there can be increased need for assistance and care.
Almost 40% of people over the age of 65 experience some form of memory loss, and Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80% of dementia diagnoses. For those living with dementia, wandering can have serious consequences where individuals may become lost or injured, and for caregivers, this can be a recurring and stressful challenge to navigate.
Researchers at Bruyère have been working toward solutions that leverage smart sensor technology to deliver visual and auditory cues to help direct people living with dementia back to safety, and to alert caregivers or care teams when help is necessary.
The technology has been evaluated in community homes and a retirement home, and was recently implemented into Greystone Village Retirement home, a hospital transitional care setting. These transitional care, or alternative level of care, environments are a step between acute care and discharge to the community or long-term care, and they can face the same challenges with patient wandering and associated risks for those living with dementia.
Smart supportive technology has the potential to change the future of care for older adults, but each environment has its own unique needs and challenges to address. For this to be successful, engaging staff from the beginning ensures we identify those real-world challenges that encourage adoption from the care teams.
“Nighttime is a difficult time for persons suffering with cognitive loss,” said Dr. Frank Knoefel, physician and researcher at Bruyère. “Technology can support the persons themselves, informal caregivers and formal caregivers decrease the impact – hopefully providing a better quality of life for all.”
With increasing complexity of conditions that come with aging, supportive technology reduces caregiver burden and alleviates staff pressures too, transforming care and care delivery at home, in hospital, and in long-term care.
Implementation of smart supportive dementia technology in a hospital transitional care setting using human-centred design was published in Healthcare Management Forum.