Emerging roles for telemedicine and smart technologies in dementia care

Smart Homecare Technol Telehealth. 2015;3:49-57. doi: 10.2147/SHTT.S59500. Epub 2015 Mar 22.

Abstract

Demographic aging of the world population contributes to an increase in the number of persons diagnosed with dementia (PWD), with corresponding increases in health care expenditures. In addition, fewer family members are available to care for these individuals. Most care for PWD occurs in the home, and family members caring for PWD frequently suffer negative outcomes related to the stress and burden of observing their loved one's progressive memory and functional decline. Decreases in cognition and self-care also necessitate that the caregiver takes on new roles and responsibilities in care provision. Smart technologies are being developed to support family caregivers of PWD in a variety of ways, including provision of information and support resources online, wayfinding technology to support independent mobility of the PWD, monitoring systems to alert caregivers to changes in the PWD and their environment, navigation devices to track PWD experiencing wandering, and telemedicine and e-health services linking caregivers and PWD with health care providers. This paper will review current uses of these advancing technologies to support care of PWD. Challenges unique to widespread acceptance of technology will be addressed and future directions explored.

Keywords: caregiver support; dementia care; technology.