Every year, 16 million people in the United States care for family and friends with dementia, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. Caregivers of people with dementia provide care for longer durations than those who assist individuals with other conditions. They also have comparably higher risks for anxiety, depression, and reduced quality of life. One-third of caregivers of elders with dementia are older adults themselves.
Although caring for people with dementia can be challenging, a variety of resources can help caregivers assist their loved ones. Apps, devices, activity subscription services, caregiver training, and online resources can aid caregivers with their responsibilities, providing valuable information, structure, and support.
Technology for Caregivers of People With Dementia
Research suggests that technology may benefit people caring for those with dementia, alleviating some of the stress associated with caregiving. Technology should be inexpensive, scalable, and user-friendly to be effective. Among the numerous mobile apps and wearable devices available today are the following:
- Carely — Carely is a free, easy-to-use smartphone app for caregivers. The app facilitates care coordination, connecting families, friends, and healthcare providers. App users can share information about the daily schedule of an older adult with dementia as well as organize appointments and activities on the app's calendar. Fostering communication between loved ones and caregivers, Carely promotes more companionship for older adults and seeks to lessen families' stress.
Care Predict — Individuals with cognitive decline may wear devices that keep loved ones informed about how they are doing. Care Predict provides this kind of technology, recording wearers' daily patterns, such as how long they spend in bed or in the kitchen and revealing possible health issues family members may otherwise miss. For instance, spending all day in bed could indicate depression or other physical health issues.
CarePredict's Care Circle App alerts family members of changes and potential concerns. For example, when people living with dementia are at risk for falls, the technology notifies family members, and when falls occur, individuals can use the wearable device to contact family.
The service requires an initial fee for the CarePredict™ @Home device plus a monthly subscription fee.
Activities for Dementia Patients and Loved Ones
Whereas tools such as wearable devices may support the health and safety of individuals with dementia, enrichment activities can also be beneficial. Engaging individuals with dementia promotes higher life satisfaction and better connections with family, friends, and other caregivers.
Caregivers looking to find things to do with their loved ones may subscribe to Connectivities, a monthly subscription box with activities for adults with dementia. Each kit contains eight activities with written and digital instructions, as well as exercise and music therapy videos.
Information for Caregivers
When their loved ones receive a dementia diagnosis, families may feel overwhelmed. Many resources can help those caring for people with dementia learn about the disease and caregiving strategies.
- The Savvy Caregiver is a free, nationally recognized training program for family members of people with dementia. The main program has six weekly two-hour video sessions — available in person or online. Those who have completed the training course reported less depression and distress.
The course covers:
· Understanding dementia diseases
· The elements of cognition
· Confusion in dementia
· Caregiver self-care
· Dementia's progression
· Methods for helping with daily activities
· Decision making
· Community resources
· Family support
Individuals caring for people with dementia can make an account on the Family Caregiver Alliance website, which provides a dashboard with resources all in one place and a list of services by state.
- The Alzheimer's Association offers information specific to Alzheimer's disease, which 50 percent to 80 percent of adults with dementia have.