Technology cuts the cost of dementia care

April 23, 2013

Due to its ageing population, the Netherlands is seeing an explosive growth in the number of dementia patients. This is expected to increase from 250,000 in 2013 to 500,000 in 2050. Cost cutting in the healthcare sector, together with a worsening shortage of care workers, means that solutions are needed if dementia sufferers are to be provided with good quality care. The University of Twente's eHealth Research Center is exploring the use of technological aids, like sensors, touch screens or games, to help such patients. PhD student Nienke Nijhof analysed the use of various tools in dementia sufferers. Ms Nijhof asserts that "Technology can offer patients safety and support. I attempted to determine whether the use of these tools might enable patients to live independently for longer. This could save the health service as much as 800 to 2800 euros per patient per month. I advocate the inclusion of technological aids in the health insurance package, to facilitate their large scale use."

Nienke Nijhof carried out qualitative and quantitative research in four different technology projects. These projects involved patients at a nursing home and those still living at home, throughout the Netherlands. All four eHealth applications produced positive results. Ms Nijhof "They support the welfare both of the patients and their carers (who are often family members). We also see improvements in the standards of care." The caregivers who were interviewed said that effectively gives them an extra pair of eyes and ears. It warns them of potentially hazardous situations that they would otherwise find difficult to anticipate. Finally, the use of technology can enable patients to live independently for much longer, which delivers significant cost savings for the health service.

Touch screens, Chitchatters, sensors and sleep watches

The first application tested by Nienke Nijhof was a . Patients used this to check their diary, for example, for appointments or reminders about taking medication. Ms Nijhof says that "Initially, patients might call their caregiver as many as thirty times to ask the same question (having forgotten that they had already done so). Now, with remote access to the diary, caregivers will get more rest." The second application involved a game, "the Chitchatters". This involved showing films or playing music to patients in a nursing home. The films and music used were appropriate to the patients' age or background, and helped to trigger memories. The third technology, sensors, recorded abnormal situations at various places in the home. For example, if someone goes to the toilet seven times during the night, when they usually only go once. In this instance, the sensors would automatically alert the caregiver. Finally Nienke Nijhof investigated the use of a watch that monitors the sleep-wake cycle of in a nursing home environment. The information obtained can be used to modify certain procedures, such as making the nightly rounds at an institution.

Explore further: Older people with dementia cared for mostly at home

Related Stories

Older people with dementia cared for mostly at home

May 11, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Many elderly people with dementia live and die at home rather than in nursing homes, a new study has found.

Adult day care services provide much-needed break to family caregivers

July 18, 2011
Adult day care services significantly reduce the stress levels of family caregivers of older adults with dementia, according to a team of Penn State and Virginia Tech researchers.

Education can reduce use of antipsychotic drugs in nursing home patients

December 14, 2012
A new review in The Cochrane Library finds that education and social support for staff and caregivers can reduce the use of antipsychotics in nursing home patients with dementia. Improved staff training and education, communication ...

Caregivers and their relatives disagree about care given, received

August 1, 2011
Caregivers and their relatives who suffer from mild to moderate dementia often have different perceptions regarding the amount and quality of care given and received. A study by researchers at Penn State and the Benjamin ...

Overnight dementia 'camp' allows caregivers rest

October 1, 2012
(AP)—At night, when most people their age are going to sleep, a group of elderly people with dementia are just getting started, dancing and shaking tambourines and maracas in a raucous version of "La Bamba."

Hospice improves care for dementia patients and their families

July 29, 2011
Hospice services substantially improved the provision of care and support for nursing home patients dying of dementia and their families, according to an analysis of survey responses from hundreds of bereaved family members. ...

Recommended for you

Lifestyle changes to stave off Alzheimer's? Hints, no proof

July 20, 2017
There are no proven ways to stave off Alzheimer's, but a new report raises the prospect that avoiding nine key risks starting in childhood just might delay or even prevent about a third of dementia cases around the world.

Blood test identifies key Alzheimer's marker

July 19, 2017
A new study led by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis suggests that measures of amyloid beta in the blood have the potential to help identify people with altered levels of amyloid in their ...

Steering an enzyme's 'scissors' shows potential for stopping Alzheimer's disease

July 19, 2017
The old real estate adage about "location, location, location" might also apply to the biochemical genesis of Alzheimer's disease, according to new research from the University of British Columbia.

Brain scans may change care for some people with memory loss

July 19, 2017
Does it really take an expensive brain scan to diagnose Alzheimer's? Not everybody needs one but new research suggests that for a surprising number of patients whose memory problems are hard to pin down, PET scans may lead ...

Can poor sleep boost odds for Alzheimer's?

July 18, 2017
(HealthDay)— Breathing problems during sleep may signal an increased risk for Alzheimer's disease, a trio of studies suggests.

Hearing is believing: Speech may be a clue to mental decline

July 17, 2017
Your speech may, um, help reveal if you're uh ... developing thinking problems. More pauses, filler words and other verbal changes might be an early sign of mental decline, which can lead to Alzheimer's disease, a study suggests.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.