Learning to use tablets helps people with dementia, report says

Digital technology can play an important role in dementia care, according to a report from Tinder Foundation, the UK-based digital inclusion charity.

Learning how to use the internet can help people with dementia recall memories, follow leisure activities, communicate with family and friends, record lucidity and manage day-to-day life. It can also help their carers access key information and instant support, the charity said.

These findings follow Tinder Foundation’s three-year programme with NHS England in which various groups, including people living with dementia, were given digital skills training. The introduction of technology proved particularly effective among dementia patients, with clear benefits in terms of personal confidence and wellbeing.

The 36-page report — Dementia and Digital: Using technology to improve health and wellbeing for people with dementia and their carers — says that tablets are the most effective devices on which to deliver digital skills and digital health training for people with dementia.

“The touch-screen interface seems to be more intuitive and immediate for people with memory problems than the more remote operation of a keyboard and mouse,” the authors explained.

Stripping back the home screen and using pictures of friends, family or familiar places as visual prompts can help people remember how to access favourite programs and apps.

Discussing some of the benefits of the technology, the report said:

“Access to online resources reduces isolation and increases wellbeing and personal confidence for people with dementia. The use of puzzles and games helps people with dementia feel they are keeping their brain active, and improves their sense of confidence and independence. The use of reminiscence tools, such as YouTube videos, engages individuals with hobbies, memories, people and places — improving their sense of wellbeing.”

Digital health training also improves patients’ relationships with health professionals and provides a lifeline for their carers.

Around 850,000 people in the UK have dementia and there are 670,000 informal carers of people with dementia, according to the report.

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