Approximately 10 million people in Europe are estimated to be living with dementia. This is expected to increase to 18.7 million by 2050 due to aging populations, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Moreover, people are forced to live at home alone for a more extended period. This can have positive and negative effects on the elderly. On the one hand, it can offer greater independence and privacy, but on the other hand, it can lead to social isolation and increased risk of health problems. In many cases, people with dementia are not diagnosed at an early stage because there is no one to report their condition. Additionally, dementia is often accompanied by other health conditions that can make it difficult for individuals to live independently. For those with dementia, living alone can be challenging, as they may struggle with daily tasks and require additional support and care.
Spotting the early signs of dementia
It can be challenging to spot the early signs when things decline. Generally, people try to hide their symptoms. Sometimes they are unaware that they are experiencing changes in their memory or thinking. However, here are some common signs to look out for:
Memory loss: Forgetting recently learned information, repeatedly asking for the same information, or relying heavily on memory aids like notes or reminders.
Difficulty with everyday tasks: Struggling to perform routine tasks like cooking, cleaning, or getting dressed.
Confusion: Getting lost in familiar places, forgetting appointments or dates, or having difficulty following conversations.
Changes in mood or personality: Becoming more irritable, anxious, or withdrawn, or exhibiting changes in personality or behavior.
Difficulty with language: Struggling to find the right words or using incorrect words or phrases.
Poor judgment: Exhibiting poor judgment or decision-making or making inappropriate social or financial decisions.
Other health conditions can also cause these symptoms, so a healthcare professional should make a proper diagnosis. If - thanks to close connection and communication - caregivers suspect that an elderly person living alone at home is experiencing symptoms of dementia, it's essential to encourage them to see a doctor for a thorough evaluation. Early detection and treatment of dementia can help slow its progression and improve the quality of life for the individual and their caregivers.
How technology can help
Technology can be crucial in strengthening the connection and communication between the elderly living alone at home and their caregivers. Here are some ways this can be achieved:
Video conferencing platforms like Skype, Zoom, and FaceTime can connect the elderly with their caregivers, family members, and friends. This can help reduce feelings of social isolation and provide a way to check in regularly on the individual.
Wearable devices like smartwatches or fitness trackers can monitor the elderly's health and activity levels. This information can be shared with caregivers, allowing them to quickly respond if there are any concerning changes.
Smartphone apps can be used to send medication reminders to elderly people, helping them to stay on track with their medication schedules.
Virtual reality technology can provide elderly individuals with immersive experiences that simulate social interaction, reducing feelings of isolation.
Smart home devices like smart locks, cameras, and sensors can help caregivers monitor the elderly person's activities remotely. For example, sensors can be placed on doors to detect when they are opened and closed, allowing caregivers to ensure that the individual moves around safely. Monitoring the patterns of electric device usage can also provide insight into the changes in the habits of the elderly.
Technology should supplement, rather than replace, in-person interactions between the elderly and their caregivers. Technology can be a helpful tool. However, it's no substitute for human connection and care.
CleverGuard brings insights into seniors’ habit changes in a non-intrusive way, supporting them to stay longer at home independently and fostering meaningful discussions between seniors and their carers.
Know more about CleverGuard: https://www.cleverguard.care/