Innovations in Dementia Care

Providing meaningful stimulation to an elder with Alzheimer’s disease can be challenging even for the most experienced caregiver. At times we can be at a loss with how to relate, communicate, connect. Having been in the field many years as a geriatric social worker, I’ve long been aware of the benefits of music, pets and baby dolls to evoke memories, verbalization and connection even in people with severe dementia. But I had never heard of the use of ventriloquists until reading an article in the AARP Bulletin (December 2011, Vol. 52 No. 10). Ventriloquists are now being used in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. “The experience relies on attention, immediate memory and imagination to spark memories.” Alzheimer’s patients will “tell their whole life story and remember the character months later.”

Another innovative advancement helps keep safe persons with Alzheimer’s who are ambulatory and at risk of wandering and coming to harm. CTX Corp has developed shoes with a miniature GPS implanted in the heel. Caregivers set a perimeter called a “geo-fence”, that allows wearers unrestricted movement within a certain area. When they stray outside the area, a Google Maps message pops up on a computer to alert caregivers.

New innovations such as these help to ease the challenges caregivers face and can enrich the life of someone with dementia, even if only for a moment or two.

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