Living with memory loss

Published on in Alcove Business, Technology section

So following on from where I took off earlier in the week with Dementia on your doorstep, I wanted to give you some feedback from some of our family members.

I would be a poster girl for Alcove. I noticed mum’s condition was accelerating once I could see what was going on when I wasn’t there. I could check every day what was going on which was very reassuring. I saw that the care she was getting wasn’t enough. It even helped me pick up things like a water infection, when I noticed frequent trips to the loo. I can see when she leaves her flat, but it’s normally the other residents that get her back as she’s been here 18 years now and they all know her. Alcove just gives you a lot more visibility and a bit more confidence that things will be alright even if you’re not there. I even managed a girly weekend in Cheshire, which I probably wouldn’t have done previously. Apart from a few hours of stress as I could see the staff weren’t supporting mum properly, I felt more confident that I could have some time away. If I had to move mum, I would definitely pay to get it installed. It’s marvellous stuff.

 

You can see from the peak in the historical data above (which shows number of visits to the bathroom) where a bladder infection (UTI) might be happening. A “Numerous Bathroom Visits” alert can warn family or care workers about things like this that might be worrying. 

Our biggest concern as a family is that she doesn’t wander off and get lost - we like to see that she is in the house at nights and this helps us to relax without actually disturbing her. Being alerted to any falls etc. because of lack of movement is also so important as if she did have a fall, she might not be able to get to the phone to get help.”

 

Here one of our customers has left her door open all night but has remained in her house. The light purple line tells you when a door has been left open. We can also see by the absence of any pink blobs (which are visitors coming In and out) that the home carer did not turn up in the evening. 

During the time that the system has been in place, we have been able to work with my mum as she opens her front door very early in the morning and this can potentially disturb her neighbours. I was also able to help her during an evening when she was very confused having woken up at 10pm thinking it was 10am and going outside to wait for her pick up to the day centre - I noticed her front door was opening and closing a lot so was able to call her and reassure her it was actually night time.”

The great thing about the Stay Safe At Home sensor system is the person doesn’t need to do anything differently. They just get on as normal, and the system flags if something unusual happens.

Even the temperature monitoring is very important, last winter she couldn’t remember how to work her central heating controls and we often found the house very cold as she switched it off completely. Seeing the temperature is very useful as we can see that she isn’t too hot or too cold.”

 

As you can see here, temperature in the bedroom has dropped to 13 degrees which is well below recommended temperate levels and is likely to impact badly on the health of our customer.

Where we do ask the user to interact with the technology, we make those interactions really simple. Our Keep in Touch Alcove Connect device is a locked down communication aid which is extremely simple to use. Pressing the help button on the device raises an emergency call. An accompanying wearable button can be pressed to raise an emergency call or does so automatically it detects a fall. You can have a range of other friends, family or professional services (hairdresser, local taxi service etc.) as easy-to-recognise images on the device.

The tablet for calls is easy to use - my Mum is a real technophobe but pressing a photo of families faces is something she is happy to do. The video calling facility is really useful, she loves seeing someone’s face and this is even better for her than just speaking to someone, it makes her feel like she has had a visitor! It is very useful for us as we can see what she is wearing. She can’t remember to put on clean clothes and frequently wears clothes for days on end - we can see this and ask her to change.”

So one of our newly launched features is scheduled messages sent to the tablet, and we are just at the stage of seeing whether these could serve as routine and memory prompts for those with memory loss. We already use this function for medication reminders. We'll be reporting back on how we get on shortly.