Dementia: Technology resources

This article rounds up resources on technology support, policy and research for those with dementia and Alzheimer's.

(Photo: VAO)

For people living with dementia, words can become hard to understand and conversation can become difficult. But images and music can sometimes hold more meaning and can unlock memories and develop shared communication. Social media websites and the use of technology such as handheld tablet PCs or smartphones can be very powerful as new channels to reimagine links through memories and to keep in touch with family and carers through social networks such as Facebook or Twitter. 

We've put together this article to list some of the resources and apps we've found that you might like to try if you care for or know someone with dementia.

Resources and Guides

In certain situations Assisitive Technology devices or systems can help maintain a person's independence, improve wellbeing and make everyday living easier for people with dementia and their carers. This comprehensive webpage and free downloadable guide from the Alzheimer's Society covers devices and systems that assist people with memory problems or other cognitive difficulties, rather than those that are used to aid someone with mobility or physical difficulties.

SCIE - Using ICT in activities for people with dementia: A short guide by SCIE for using technology in activities for people with dementia. Download here.

How digital technology is supporting people living with dementia : This article written by Shirley Ayres for the Nominet Trust explains in depth about how technology can help people liviing with dementia. It contains a number of links to useful apps and websites for you to try out. 

CarersUK: Resources supporting employees who care for those with dementia. Resource pages here.

Dementia Friends: An initiative founded by Alzheimer's Society to help staff learn about dementia and the steps they can take to make a difference to the lives of people with the condition. Visit the Dementia Friends website.

e-learning For Healthcare : Health Education England have made a set of e-learning courses on dementia available as open courses which are free for anyone to access, you can take part in them here - http://www.e-lfh.org.uk/programmes/dementia/open-a...

Dementia Challengers: Have a page on their website which explains how to use Facebook and Twitter for people with dementia or for families supporting them.

Dementia resource database: Tailored links to further information and practical tools for carers and care providers. www.nice.org.uk/About/NICE-Communities/Social-care...

Legal Guide to Dementia: Although not directly related to technology, Wright Hassall have produced this on-line resource guide which covers all the legal aspects those caring for a person with Dementia should be aware of. This includes Mental Capacity, Power of Attorney, Making a Will and Safeguarding.

Apps and Websites that provide task reminders, games and link music, pictures, voices and stories to memories of events, family and friends

ACEMobile: This is the app based version of the Addenbrooks Cognitive Examination – III (ACE-III) a well regarded dementia assessment tool used by clinicians. The tool can be downloaded free for iOS here. Also see this link to the 6CIT (Six Item Cognitive Impairment) Test which you can perform on-line.

FaceDementia app: Alzheimer’s Research UK has launched a Facebook app which simulates some of the symptoms experienced by people with dementia by showing users what it would be like to forget where they live, work or go to school or who their loved-ones are, using a combination of personal photos, status updates and other information shared on their page.

House of Memories: Familiar objects and significant locations can unlock memories in people with dementia. This app from National Museums in Liverpool is part of a wider programme of work which includes memory walks, community get-togethers and workshops for carers of people with dementia. The app has two sections, one for the person being supported to store their memories in a memory box and one for the carer to access that contains videos about dementia and tops tips for effective dementia support.

MemoryGapp: This photo and audio memory sharing app can help soothe the effects of those experiencing Alzheimer’s or other dementia-related conditions. Instantly share photos with friends, family members and acquaintances, and let them tag those images with names or comforting personialized voice recordings to help remember special thoughts and stories. It’s a way of letting multiple people share the hidden meanings behind images using their own voices as links to imagaes can be shared by e-mail or additional family members can be granted access to the app. Your loved ones with Alzheimer’s will appreciate being able to hear the messages whenever they require immediate comfort. Download MemoryGapp for iPhone and ipad here.

Memrica surrounds you with favourite memories. It creates a virtual short cut between cherished moments and anything you choose; these objects are called Mementos. Your smartphone will instantly find linked memories when it's focused on a Memento, remind you of this and give you the ability to share it with friends and family.

MindMate will help people living with dementia to be independent and to improve their self-organisation. It’s like a friend that helps you to train your brain and provides you with tools like reminders. A friend that gives you advice about nutrition and exercises and that provides you with information about dementia. A friend that wants to give you peace of mind, because you have all you need in one application.

Remind Me Care:The app and website enhances the lives of people with dementia, their carers and families. Remind Me Care works by stimulating long term memories through a personalised library of the images, sounds and music that shaped their lives. There is a free version for family carers and subscription based packages available for care provider organisations which work on any Internet-enabled device. The system learns through use and interaction and stores its history, becoming customised to each person and is always immediately ready to use.

See What i Mean turns the words you speak into pictures. This tool for people living with dementia makes communication possible and enables the user to build galleries of pictures that link to a topic or memory. Its goal is to encourage engagement and conversation in older people living with dementia, families, friends and carers. See What i Mean is currently available for IOS devices.

Tangible Memories’ is a free story creator app to help improve the quality of life for care home residents by building shared experiences through individual life stories. The Tangible Memories are attached to meaningful objects so that residents can remind themselves of the important memory each holds. Stories can be created capturing photos, text and audio clips, which can be printed, audio scanned or made into a book. A unique shell image can be printed for each story and kept in a memory box or attached to a physical item that the resident treasures.The scan function within the app then recognizes the unique shell illustration for each story and instantly plays back the appropriate audio memory.

Websites that have lists of other apps for dementia

Top 5 iPad apps for dementia: Bristol-based iPad project, Alive!, list their top 5 apps for stimulating memory and creativity. Favourite dementia apps of the month are also listed here.

5 good apps for dementia: Another iPad app list with recommendations on games, quizzes and drawing.

Alzheimer's apps listed: Alzheimer Association (USA) lists apps that have well reviewed and rated by users in the iTunes store.

Memory aids: Arts 4 dementia list apps to stimulate memory.

Other useful resources

Staying Safe on Social Media and Online: Guide by Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities includes tips for people with learning disabilities on how to stay safe in social media and online. Free download

Learning For Older People in Care Settings: 4 new free guides addressing digital learning for older people in care settings. http://shop.niace.org.uk/catalogsearch/advanced/re...

And finally a video ...

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