Three case studies from a Scandinavian study of 29 people with Dementia led by Lilly Jensen et al. who were using assistive technology.
Managing going out alone
Mr. Olsen is 62 years old and he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease one year ago. Mr. Olsen used to be an active sportsman, and he is still strong and fit. He often rides his bike, and goes for outdoor walking every day. The most important to him and his wife is that he still can move around on his own, and that they both feel safe about it.
One day, walking his evening tour, Mr. Olsen got lost. This was a frightening experience. Both Mr. Olsen and his wife got very anxious after this incident.
The coordinator of dementia care in the municipality recommended Mr. Olsen to carry a GPS. Now, he carries the GPS all the time. If Mr. Olsen do not return home to the time he said, his wife could call the emergency central and get information about where he is, and go and collect him.
The GPS has an alarm button. If Mr. Olsen doesn’t know where to go or panic, he may push a big red button on the GPS. A signal is sent to the emergency central that call his wife or another family member. The GPS also serves as a hands free telephone, that allow family members to call him and ask how he is, and if everything is OK.
Mr. Olsen finds the GPS to be a beneficial aid for him. It reminds him of “the pager” he used to wear in his job some years ago. The Olsen family is happy for the GPS, because they know they will get a message where the husband and dad is, if he doesn’t return as he usually does. They all feel safe because of the GPS.
Mrs. Hansen lives in a rural area in Norway. She had stopped to show up at her doctors’ appointments, and forgot about appointments with family members. The home nurse knew the electronic calendar, and helped Mrs. Hansen to apply for one. The calendar was put on a central spot home at Mrs. Hansen, - on a shelf that she had to pass several times a day.
A written note is attached to the calendar telling what the appointments are for the week. When Mrs. Hansen calls her family and asks for what her appointments are, they remind her to look at the note on the calendar. ”Look at the calendar, mum!”
This strategy of reminding her on using the calendar, has helped her to recognise the calendar, and to use it actively. She keeps her appointments now.
Support from assistive devices in different stages during the progress of dementia.
John is 59 years old, he is married to Grace. He had the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease some years before the first technical devices were assigned to him. When John got the diagnosis he stopped working. This account covers 2½ years. When the first devices were assigned his MMSE was 24 and 2½ years later it was 13.
The first device John had was an electronic calendar so he could know what day it was. He used to ask Grace all the time, but with the electronic calendar he independently knew what day it was without asking Grace. He used the electronic calendar with success for ½ year.
Simultaneously John got a speaking watch, which he still used after 2½ years. The indication for giving him that device was his problems with reading an ordinary analogue watch as well as a digital watch. Through the speaking watch he got support in his understanding of time in the beginning. Later he didn’t understand the time, but even then the watch had a social function. Even when he could not read the time or understand the dimension time, the watch gave him a feeling of being competent.
Right from the beginning John got an electronic surveillance on the front door. The problem was that he often forgot to lock the front door when he left the home when Grace was at work. This made Grace feel insecure. The surveillance was adjusted to warn Grace on her Mobil phone if the door was left open. Then she could call John and remind him to close and lock the door. If Grace was unable to answer the call it was directed to other person who knew about the problem and likewise could guide John.
After 1½ year John got at electronic surveillance to tell if he woke up at night and started to move out of bed. This device alarmed Grace when she did not hear him get up and she could prevent problems. At this stage he was not able to find the toilet without help.
After 2 years he got a red toilet seat. The indication was that it was difficult for him to know where the toilet seat was – and the red seat became a great help. Before the need of the coloured seat was identified different support handles were tried out without success.
Other adjustments were made in the bathroom to support his bath and he also had a mattress with electric heating in because he often was cold in bed even if he had a lot of clothes on. The mattress helped him to calm down and to sleep better.