Assistive Technology

Often simple aids or gadgets can assist someone with memory loss to manage better at home.

These aids can be accessed through various sources including: Jaycar Electronics; Dick Smith; Tandy Electronics or Innovations. Sometimes it’s a good idea to try to 'think outside the square' and try places like Crazy Clarke’s or Dollars and Cents for solutions.

Dementia can sometimes make people wary of trying new things, adapting to changing situations or learning new skills, so it’s important to find a product that really suits the situation.

To overcome this difficulty, you may find it helpful to:

  • Find solutions that can be integrated into the person’s normal routine without being noticed, or with minimal disruption
  • Involve the person in decisions about which product or solution to use
  • Introduce assistive technology when the dementia is still at an early stage, so that the person can gradually get use to new ideas.

There is a list of useful websites and other resources at the end of this article. 


Talking Photo Frames & Albums

As you flip through the photo album you can press the play button at each photo and listen to the 10 second recorded message. These devices allow information about the photo to be recorded and replayed. You can record names, dates and places to pass the information on to the viewer. The lock switch prevents the message being erased of the batteries go flat or are removed. Price approx. $44.90 each.

  • Storage Box
  • 72 Sleeves each hols 2 x 4' x 6' photos
  • Requires 3x AAA batteries (not included)

Day Clock

This analogue clock displays the day of eh week. This facilitates orientation and helps with making and keeping appointments or activities. Available from the most recent Innovations catalogues and costs $29.95. 


Debden 12 month personal management planner

This easy to use calendar has large ruled boxes suitable for recording appointments, visitors etc. Personal management planners retail for between $5 and $12 from most newsagents. 


Webster-Pak or similar pre-packaged medication system

These simple to use medication packages provide medications packed by your pharmacist. They lay out dosages, times and days. To organize a Webster-Pak, you will need to speak to you GP who will provide a medical chart and authority to a pharmacy which supplies this service. Ask your GP which pharmacy can assist or call your local pharmacies to find out. The cost is around $3.50 per week. 


Dosette Box

These are similar to the Webster-Pak but you will need to pack them yourself. They are useful if you are taking a lot of different medications or need to set up someone’s medications for the week. With some models it is possible to separate days and dosages, and therefore you can pre-prepare and carry you daily dosage with you on outings. These cost between $5 and $30. 


Medieasy

This electronic pill timer may be useful for people only taking medications once a day or who would benefit from an alarm reminder. This retails for $59.95 from the Innovations catalogue. 


Wireless Remote Key Locator – Set of 4

This device helps to save time looking for misplaced objects. Attach one of the four different coloured receivers to an object most likely to go missing. When you want to find the “tagged” item, press the corresponding coloured button on the remote. It uses radio frequency signals to detect the receiver and lets off a beeping sound when it is in a 10m radius of the object. Price approx. $40.45 each.

  • 1 transmitter and 4 beeping receivers
  • Batteries included
  • Transmitter - 12v 23A battery (use our SB - 2420)
  • Receiver - CR2032 battery (use our SB - 2522)

Retro Style LED Wrist Watch – Large Figure Display

This stylish watch is integrated with battery saving circuitry, turning the display off after 5 seconds and can be turned back on at a press of a button. It also displays the date and year. The LED intensity is adjusted to suit you eyes’ sensitivity. Price approx. $26.90 each. 


Clock Alarm – 10 Seconds Recorder Silver

Wake up to a voice recording of you choice. Depending on which alarm is selected, either the digital or recorded message will play back for a minute, or can be shut off sooner by the cut off button located on top of the clock. It can be used to remind someone of an appointment or if something is to be done at a specific time. Price approx $17.70 each

  • Requires 4 x AA Batteries (not included)

Passive Infrared Beam

Can be fitted across doorways or other access points into or out of a room. When the beam is crossed a receiver will detect the movement and emits a loud sound, letting others know someone has entered or left a room. 


Passive Infrared Reminder Light

This can be helpful for attracting the person with problems’ attention and remind them to do something. It can be installed in combination with written reminder notes or voice recording. 


A Safe Box

Fitted in the home, it may be a useful way of concealing and securing items like medication, credit cards, Medicare card, etc. Alternatively a lock can be fitted into a cupboard in the home to serve the same purpose. 


Flood Detectors

Can be installed of there has been a history of the person with memory problems accidentally leaving a tap running. 


Magiplug

This is a sink safety plug that works using a pressure activated system. When an unattended sink reaches a certain depth, the pressure plate opens and releases the excess water safely down the plughole.


Personal Alarms

Personal alarms are small devices worn on the person, which can be activated by pressing a button – this will then initiate a sequence of phone calls to alert someone that help is needed. “Vital Call” is one personal emergency response service available. Phone 1300 360 808. “Safety Link” is another option, call 1800 813 617 or http://www.safetylink.org.au. Your Aged Care Assessment Service may be able to offer alternatives. 


Internet Mobile Phone Tracking

Carers of people with memory loss may eventually have access to a new system which can help find people who wonder and get lost, sometimes with tragic results. An internet mobile phone tracking system which can pin point the location of a missing person (and cost less than 60 cents each time it is accessed) is not yet available in the Northern Territory and is being reviewed for any negative ethical implications. Currently out Safe Return Program is in place, in the event that a person with memory loss may wonder.


FlashID

The FlashID Emergency Identification System has been developed in Australia to provide a simple and accurate means of identifying people in the case of accident, collapse, or loss of consciousness for whatever reason. The system consists of a USB key, which contains a word document in which you provide relevant personal and medical information

* Please note that any listed prices were correct at the time of publishing and may be indicators only of the correct price. 


Other Resources/Links:

They have produced an extensive resource that gives you much information about dementia – friendly environments. They have built an Aged Friendly Home which features on the website of the ‘Living with Dementia – How the Environment Technology and You Can Help’ National Dementia Resource.


Aged Friendly Home Resources:

AFH Brochure 
AFH Overview