The world is driven by technology today – anything and everything is handled by technology in today’s world. Dementia is a growing disease with no cure and futile drug-based research activities for more than a decade.With no proper solution both in the field of diagnostics and therapeutics, the dementia market has turned to technology to help people. However, do these technologies help people as they claim?
One such technology is ‘Dementia Smart Homes’, well-designed home with a bunch of smart sensors to switch off/on lights, doors, windows and other electronic gadgets along with alarms/controllers to handle any mishaps. Are these smart homes – a real aid for independent living for people living with dementia? Dementia can be classified into 3 stages in general – early, moderate and later stages (though there are 7 clinical stages of dementia stages). Let’s consider the early or mild stages, these people have a great possibility of forgetting to switch on/off the lights or doors where reminders or alarms are helpful – but they still have many cognitive functions active such as how to switch off a light or close a door which can be deteriorated with continuous use digital buttons to operate.
Various dementia research studies have proved that keeping/maintain existing cognitive functions is important for leading independent living for a longer time. With these smart homes, the capacity of the brain activity will be decreased significantly, with no cognitive actions to be taken since sensors replace your brain functioning.
Considering people at moderate stages, especially during the transition stage from mild to moderate dementia, these automated smart homes could become an experience of great confusion or fear to most people. The cause of such anxiety could be due to hallucination, a common symptom during the progression of the disease. These hallucinations could be enhanced with these smart sensors such as automated lights/TV ON and OFF; even if a carer is always with them to operate and handle these technologies.People, especially in the transition stage of the disease, need love and care – emotional support from their loved ones rather than technology-based support as an aid for independent living. The later stage of dementia is mostly dominated by sleep where the use of such smart technology is questionable.
People living with dementia need technology that aids them in improving confidence, cognitive and emotional support and technologies that supports them in leading their daily life with minimum or appropriate assistance. Technologies that support idle brain will not lead to independent living or quality of life for people living with dementia.