Alzheimer’s changes everything. When Alzheimer’s disease strikes, it’s not only the patient who is affected. The disease also attacks the lives of families and friends who must provide ever-increasing care. Alzheimer’s caregivers eventually have to learn to manage doctor appointments, provide transportation, make sure medications are taken on time and keep the home going.

Fortunately, there are numerous technologies that can help family caregivers manage these responsibilities and help with respite and relief — technologies designed to make their lives easier and to keep their loved ones safe and healthy.

Timed alerts

Medication management is one of the most important tasks any family caregiver handles. Alzheimer’s patients typically take multiple medications. Medication management tools offer an easy, safe way to make this process easier. There are the simple, old-fashioned pillboxes marked with the days of the week, but there are also automated models available that beep and open as a reminder to take medication. Smartphone apps offer gentle reminders, and some can even be linked to a vibrating watch alarm.

Long-distance monitoring

“Technology is constantly changing, and that’s good news because newer and better tools are regularly being developed to help family caregivers and their loved ones.”

Caregivers can’t be everywhere all the time. It’s a troubling fact that those with Alzheimer’s are prone to wandering, and it's not unusual for them to get lost. New technologies have been developed that can be used to keep tabs on a loved one while away. These small devices are a great option for keeping track of a loved one with Alzheimer’s. Trackers can send location data to family caregivers and nursing home staff, or even alert emergency services in order to get them home safely and quickly.

Many Alzheimer’s caregivers also use telehealth technologies, which can help a caregiver monitor their loved one when they can’t be with them. These include door and exit sensors, carbon monoxide and flood detectors, bed, door and window sensors, touchpad key locks and high temperature detectors. Some technologies even automatically place a daily call to check up on the patient. Video monitoring technology can also be useful when a caregiver wants to check in on their loved one, and is a great tool for recording behavior which can be valuable for care plan discussions with professionals.

A growing network

Caregiving for a loved one with Alzheimer’s can feel like a struggle, and many caregivers feel alone. But they’re not. Currently, an estimated 5.5 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s disease, and there are more than 15 million people lovingly providing care for them. For Alzheimer’s caregivers who are looking for advice from those who know what it’s like, Caregiver Action Network has produced Alzheimer’s caregiver videos where Alzheimer's caregivers tell their stories. And a brand new technology hub called iCAN Tech helps caregivers find useful caregiving technologies.

There’s no other way to put it — Alzheimer’s is devastating. But technology is constantly changing, and that’s good news because newer and better tools are regularly being developed to help family caregivers and their loved ones. New technologies are making Alzheimer’s and dementia a little more manageable by helping to ease caregiver stress and keeping those with Alzheimer’s safer and more comfortable. These services can help caregivers stay on top of it all and enable them to restore some balance to their lives.