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Will Technology Revolutionize Dementia Diagnosis and Care?

As populations age worldwide and the number of people with dementia is set to soar over the next few decades, a crisis in eldercare looms. At the same time, the use of personal technology—smartphones, tablets, wearable monitors—is exploding. Can technology help society avert the crisis? Some researchers envision a future in which older adults with cognitive decline or Alzheimer’s disease could stay independent longer with the help of technology. Robots and interactive computers would aid an impaired senior to complete simple tasks. Monitoring systems would send an alarm to relatives if the person fell, skipped medication, or was otherwise in difficulty. Interactive computer games and online communities tailored to people with dementia would provide cognitive and social stimulation that might slow decline. Sound like science fiction? These ideas are being tested now in research studies. Some of the technology is on the market, and much of the rest may become available within the next three to five years, researchers predict.