If you love someone with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, you know how devastating this illness can be—not only to the person diagnosed, but to family members and others who love and care for the patient. If you have a family history of Alzheimer’s, you may be concerned about your own future. Did you forget that name because you’re busy and distracted, or was that memory lapse a sign of worse ones to come?
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, though progress is being made. In the meantime, technology offers help for patients with dementia, as well as those who are involved in their care. Here are ten apps, and other activities, designed to help with various aspects of dementia, and even to help stave off mental decline for those who are worried about developing it.
MindMate is an app developed by three young people who were involved in caring for seniors with dementia—one of them a beloved grandparent. This free app, available for Apple, Android, and computers, offers brain games and workouts to help with attention, memory, problem-solving, and cognitive speed. MindMate also features other tools to stimulate brain and general health, promoting good nutrition, physical exercise, mental stimulation, and social interaction. The site allows you to take a memory test online and promptly emails you your results.
Constant Therapy is an app for smartphones and tablets. Offering cognitive, language and speech therapy, it is designed to support patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia, as well as those recovering from brain injuries including stroke. The award-winning program was developed by scientists at Boston University and adapts to keep patients challenged, but not frustrated. Subscribers have unlimited access to a library of brain rehabilitation exercises for $24.99 per month or $249.99 per year. There is also a version available for clinicians to use with their patients.
People who struggle with memory issues often find music therapeutic and relaxing. Piano with Songs is a free app for Apple phones and iPad that lets users play the piano, even if they haven’t played in years (or ever). With a library of thousands of songs, people with Alzheimer’s and dementia can use the app to access old favorite songs and unlock good memories in the process.
Caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients are familiar with the repeated phone calls and questions from a frightened loved one who needs the reassurance of hearing their voice. Unfortunately, many caregivers are not always available to provide this reassurance due to work and other obligations.
Caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients are familiar with the repeated phone calls and questions from a frightened loved one who needs the reassurance of hearing their voice. Unfortunately, many caregivers are not always available to provide this reassurance due to work and other obligations. Alz Calls is a chatbot designed for patients who repeatedly ask for their family, struggle with transitions to new environments, or need social interaction. Family members can record their voice, add a photo that will pop up for the patient to recognize, and answer frequent questions so that the patient can have an interactive conversation when the caregiver is not available to talk.
Patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia often have trouble retrieving information they have recently heard or seen. Tactus Therapy offers apps for cognition and language problems, including spaced retrieval therapy to help patients remember new information longer using evidence-based memory techniques. The app is available for $4.99 for both Android and Apple devices.
Lumosity is one of the earliest brain-training apps developed, and it continues to be popular after more than ten years, with over 100 million users. The app’s scientists create fun, challenging, easy-to-learn brain games based on established cognitive training exercises. The app boasts peer-reviewed studies that show that it improves cognition. Available on Apple and Android as well as online, Lumosity costs $14.95 per month, but costs go down significantly if you subscribe for a year or longer, and lifetime subscriptions are also available.
Jigsaw puzzles are great for entertainment and promoting focus, but they take up a lot of space, and they’re not very portable. Real Jigsaw Puzzles is a great free app, available on Apple and Android, for seniors who enjoy jigsaw puzzles and could use some brain stimulation. There is a wide variety of puzzles available, and you can adjust the number of pieces per puzzle from 9 to 1000.
Isolation can be a problem for those living with dementia, and it can be difficult for those who care for them to know how to engage. AmuseIT is an app designed to promote conversation. It contains over 1000 simple quiz questions with a strong visual component. In addition to facilitating connection between dementia patients and caregivers who use the app, AmuseIT stimulates memory and reasoning and is easy to use, even for those intimidated by technology. It is available on Apple and Android devices for less than five dollars.
An app doesn’t need to be complicated to be helpful or engaging. Word Search Colorful is a classic word search game available on Apple and Android, and it’s free. It involves words hidden within blocks of letters; instead of needing to circle the words with a pen, a swipe of the finger provides a colorful highlight.
Technology is great, but there are many seniors with dementia who don’t have access to a smartphone or tablet, or just are not interested in using them. There are lower-tech developments that can help them, too. MEternally is a website that offers photo and activity cards, DVD, and other tangible tools to promote reminiscence for seniors with memory loss. The site offers various collections, including “Nature,” “Patriotic,” and “Favorite Things” in an effort to help people make connections and share joy through reminiscence.
If you are concerned about memory loss in a loved one, or the potential that you could develop Alzheimer’s or dementia, contact our elder law attorneys to make a plan and learn what resources are available to you.
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