Dementia affects over 55 million people worldwide. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates 6.7 million Americans over 65 are living with Alzheimers. The problem is huge and technology is already helping, but much more might be possible.
I have first hand experience being close to someone with Dementia. It puts such a huge demand on both the patient and their family. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and the geek in me wonders how tech can help.
Tech is Helping Already
My research shows tech helping in quite a few ways already. Here are some examples:
- GPS devices to keep patients safe. The loved one I am thinking about once walked out of the house in the middle of the night. Luckily she knocked on a neighbor’s door who knew her and brought her home.
- Smart watches made specifically for Dementia and Alzheimers patients.
- Monitoring tech that keeps an eye on appliances and signals if the patient forgets to turn them off.
- Robots that can do things like remind patients to take their medicine.
- Cameras that allow family to monitor patients
- Special pillboxes that remind people to take their medications by sending a signal to a smartwatch
- Various devices that stimulate the patient’s brains by broadcasting messages so the patient doesn’t feel so alone and reminds them of activities to do, when to go to bed, etc…
What Got Me Thinking
I recently read an article that described how to use AI to keep track of the life of a person. The programmer described it as just a start. It basically used a text file to record various events in the life of a person, and then the AI could be asked questions recalling the events. For example, suppose you recorded that your sister visited on Tuesday and you had a nice visit. Later you could ask the AI when you last spoke to your sister and it would answer “You saw your sister Tuesday. You had a nice visit.” The author said they had ideas to expand on the program. I also would like to try some ideas myself!
Here are some other ideas I’m thinking about.
Enhanced GPS Tracking
I’m thinking about continuous monitoring to warn someone immediately if certain boundaries are breached. Also something like GPS but more localized so that for example a patient was spending all their time in one room a reminder could be sent or someone could be notified.
Who am I pendant
The idea here is a simple pendant or bracelet with a button that gives basic information like “Who am I?, where do I live? What people are important to me?”
Second brain memory helper
This would be a much more involved project. The device would record everything about a person’s life. Then there would be easy ways to recall the information and serve as a kind of memory assistant. This could be incorporated into a robot or some other kind of helper appliance.
These would be small motion activated devices that serve as reminders when a person comes near.
These are being researched heavily in Japan, among other places. These could be very simple “friendly reminder” robots or full blown physical helpers.
What I’m doing
For my part I’m going to mess around with the basic program ideas I mentioned above.
What are your ideas?