Care providers for elderly patients with dementia and Alzheimer's have been looking for means to manage the behavioral symptoms that come with the disease.
According to Alzheimer’s Association
, “Many people with Alzheimer’s and their families find behavioral symptoms the most challenging and distressing aspects of the disease.”
Elderly shelters have religiously made music and art activities part of the daily routine of their patients. These activities will help reduce the symptoms of agitation especially in dementia patients without medications.
led by Ipsit Vahia, medical director of Geriatric Psychiatry Outpatient Services at McLean Hospital suggests that the use of tablet computers is a viable approach to manage agitation symptoms among patients with dementia.
According to a new study published in The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry,
the use of tablets to perform the established routines like music and art is beneficial to both the care provider and the patients.
“We know that art therapy can work, music therapy can work. The tablet, however, gives you the option of switching from one app to another easily, modifying the therapy seamlessly to suit the individual. You don’t need to invest in new equipment or infrastructure,” Vahia explained.
The researchers installed 70 apps onto the tablets. The apps differ in their cognitive complexity and use.
An example of an improvement after the use of tablet was seen to an irritable and withdrawn patient who only spoke Romanian.
“We started showing him Romanian video clips on YouTube, and his behavior changed dramatically and instantaneously,” said Vahia.
“His mood improved. He became more interactive. He and his medical support team also started using a translation app so that staff could ask him simple questions in Romanian, facilitating increased interaction. These significant improvements are a clear testament of the tablet’s potential as a clinical tool.”
The study allows the researcher to gather data on how patients with dementia engage with and respond to apps.
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