Sustainable gains for dementia care

Benefits of assistive technologies

The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred the implementation of low-tech and high-tech solutions for maintaining safety, communication, activity and participation of people with dementia. Discover some practical examples that may sustainably change dementia care.

Two kinds of assistive technology have been primarily used as a response to the COVID-19-related social distancing regulations: voice assistants for people with dementia living at home and social robots for people with dementia living in institutions.

Voice assistants

These devices can support independent living by reminding people to have a meal, take a bath, use medication, or keep appointments. They are also able to provide customizable instructions for routine tasks, suggestions for quality of life, ensure that important tasks are completed, and structure the day. Voice assistants can also facilitate communication and enhance social contact, for example by making phone calls to family members or arranging a direct connection to a second (remote) device. In terms of providing entertainment, voice assistants are able to play music according to personalised playlists, read out audiobooks, tell jokes, display research information or provide weather forecasts for the day.

Social robots

Given their ability to interact and communicate with humans, these devices can provide companionship, cognitive and social stimulation, as well as assistance with activities of daily living. Social robots improve engagement and activity and reduce carer burden. Cognitive stimulation by social robots my take the form of showing personal pictures from the past, playing personalised music, providing updates on daily news, reminding of important dates and activities, playing games including chess, bingo or tennis, and suggesting physical exercises. Robot pets are a special type of social robots which have the appearance, feel and behaviour of companion animals.

Please take the quiz to learn about the specific contributions and benefits of these technologies. Please drag the different topics to the correct type of assistive technology. Please press the button “check” to get your result.

Changes and improvements in communication

Virtual support groups and a menu of brief educational videos were a way to overcome social distancing rules and meeting restrictions. These alternative ways of communication may complement and strengthen patient and carer support in the future.