There is an endearing film called ‘Frank and the Robot’ which tells the story of a man with Alzheimer’s being cared for by a small robot called Fred. The robot was bought by his son out of frustration at seeing his father’s self-neglect and due to his living 100 miles away.
Frank greets the robot with the words “that thing will kill me in my sleep” The robot is the ‘health assistant’ model and it sets to caring for Frank by cooking healthy meals, cleaning the home and trying to engage Frank in healthy activities such as gardening and walking. Over time, despite the fact the care is being given by a robot, the caring nature of its activities brings a positive change in Frank. He starts to enjoy its company and begins to teach it new skills. Unfortunately the new skills involve jewellery theft. Both Frank and the robot land up in hot water and, much to Frank’s sadness, the robot has to be decommissioned
The moral of the story is you CAN experience ‘care’ and an improvement in your wellbeing from technology. Think about it, many of us have the radio or television on in the home to provide company – is this not an example of technology providing care? Right now the major developments in care are in the field of ‘gadgets’ that people can use in their own home. I do not think we should view this with sadness and criticize our society for not providing people to care; rather we should take hold of what is on offer and enjoy it!
Here are some of the innovations on offer
These are electronic boxes with dividers in which will open on the right day and right compartment for you to take your pills for that time. An alert will sound and they can hold up to two weeks’ worth of medicines depending on how many you take.
If you care for someone who wanders out of the home and has memory problems, a location monitor will alert you when they go out of the home. The monitors can also alert if the person has a fall. On a similar note, there are also sensors that alert you if a person is out of their bed or chair for too long.
Simple digital monitors which say ‘Now it's Saturday (relevant day) morning' really help people with Alzheimer’s and prevent them continually asking their family repetitive questions.
Simple Music Players
Music from our own era means a lot to most of us. There are music players which are extremely simple to use (one switch to play music, one switch to move to next song) and can be loaded with a person favourite music.
This is Me software applications
One of the most valuable tools in care is a comprehensive ‘this is me’ life journal which details not only a person’s medical history but their social and family history, their likes and dislikes, their favourite foods, drinks and topics of conversation. . Now such journals exist on computer which means their usefulness is multiplied many times. For example a computer life journal can add media such as favourite photographs, films and music. A computer life journal can be stored online so many users can access it from wherever they are and not only use it, but contribute to it. Using a computerised Life Journal can be compared to using the internet to find out about a subject you are interested in versus going to the library and searching through Encyclopaedia Brittanica.
The key elements in embracing technology so it is of benefit to you are
- Approach it with a positive mind. Let’s see these gadgets as a good thing
- Accept there will be an initial period of learning how to use it when you may feel quite frustrated; hang in there, it will pass and you WILL reap the benefit
- It is always helpful to have a friend who likes gadgets to help you
- Use the instruction manual and phone the ‘help and advice’ people if you need to. And do this as many times as you need! These people eat and sleep their gadgets so they forget what it is like when it is a new thing to someone. They can also forget some of us are struggling with more than one gadget at a time!
At Home Instead we have a comprehensive file of useful resources for our clients and we are always happy to share this to any member of the public struggling with care questions or issues. Please feel free to call us on 01255 672 269