How Tech Could Transform Memory Loss Care for Seniors
BY TRACY LAYDEN
Between misplacing keys and forgetting names, we’ve all had our share of memory loss. But when Mom starts experiencing the onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s, the usual memory techniques may no longer be enough.
There is no magical cure-all for memory loss, but you can help Mom manage her symptoms. These low-tech and high-tech solutions can help jog Mom’s memory to help make getting through her day that much easier.
Helping Mom Remember: Spread memory devices throughout Mom’s home to help keep her brain on track.
Who and What
- Digital photo frames: Load photos of Mom’s favorite people in the frame. Add captions with names to help her remember the details.
- Labels: Go back to basics and label drawers with what’s inside of them. You can use labels as reminders too: “Did you remember to brush your teeth?”
- Diary: Writing stuff down is perhaps the original way to preserve memories. Provide Mom with a diary in which she can jot down notes about her day.
- Music Apps: Music has been shown to have a strong connection with evoking memories. Play some of Mom’s old favorites on Spotify, Pandora, or Yesterday USA Old Time Radio.
- Electronic locator tags: Perfect for easily lost items like wallets and keys, these tags connect to your smartphone. If Mom can’t find the item, simply press a button to see its last location and hear a tone once you get close.
- Automatic lights: Mom may forget that she has to turn the lights on when it gets dark. Illuminate Mom’s path with automatic lights that turn on via timer or via motion sensor.
- Help buttons with GPS: If Mom has a tendency to wander, you want a way for her to easily call for help if she gets lost and panics. A help button with GPS will call you and let her know exactly where she is so you can come help.
- Tracking apps: These type of apps are available on smartphone apps and watch devices. You can track Mom using satellite or cellular technology if you fear she may get lost and not remember how to call for help.
- Automated verbal prompts: Set up motion sensors that prompt Mom with verbal cues as she walks by. For example, “Did you remember your wallet and keys?” could play right before she walks out the front door.
- Calendar clock: An early symptom of both dementia and Alzheimer’s is losing track of time. Calendar clocks clearly display the date, time, and if it is the morning or the night.
- Medication dispenser: It’s easy for anyone to forget if you have or have not taken your medication. With a medication dispenser, Mom won’t miss a dose.
- Memory Apps: “Spaced Retrieval Therapy” helps Mom practice remembering her daily routines. This application also helps Mom remember names and facts.
Keeping Mom Safe If She Forgets
Mom is bound to forget something on occasion. Make sure her mistakes aren’t dangerous with these tech solutions.
- Automatic shut-off stoves: Many seniors consider cooking a major part of their independence. Keep Mom cooking with a stove that automatically cools itself if she happens to get distracted and leave the kitchen.
- Water shut-offs: If the tap is left running too long, this device will shut off the water to prevent flooding. Choose one that also keeps the water from getting too hot to keep Mom from getting burned.
- Monitored smoke detector. Mom may forget what to do if her smoke detector goes off. Choose one that is monitored. It will send out an alert to a monitoring center, who will send emergency services – no phone call required.
- Medical alert system. When you can’t be with Mom, make sure she has a way to call for help. With a medical alert, she has only a single button to push – no phone numbers to remember – and she’ll have a trained professional on the line to help.
Managing Memory Loss
The majority of today’s seniors want to age in place as they get older. Alzheimer’s and dementia can put a dent in those plans. With some clever tech, you can help Mom extend her time at home.
Tech is great, but the most important thing you can do for Mom? Be there for her. Your support and compassion will make the biggest difference in her quality of life. This will be a difficult, confusing time. With you by her side, Mom will be better prepared to face the challenges that may come her way.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tracy Layden is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist. Born and raised in Silicon Valley, Tracy leads the marketing efforts at Alert-1, a personal safety technology and consulting firm dedicated to helping seniors live safely and independently. Tracy holds a degree in mathematics from Scripps College and is an accomplished ballroom dancer and equestrian.
More Stories from Our Caregiving Community
BY GREG O'BRIEN In the spring on Brookdale Place, in Rye, New York, the Forget-Me-Nots bloomed like a botanical garden, a sea of soothing pastels that kindled the memory. The Greeks called the flower Myosotis, translated “mouse’s ear,” an allusion to the shape of its...read more
BY BETSY BILLARD She was at the top of her game not so very long ago. Countless accomplishments. Two successful runs in the New York City Marathon. Strong enough to ride a bike more than 200 miles from Boston to New York City. She was so professionally successful...read more
BY BETH CHILCOTT I was a full-time caregiver for my husband, Jeff, for several years as he navigated the passageways of Alzheimer’s. The last year was especially hard as his dementia worsened by the month. Jeff stayed at home and went with me everywhere until it...read more