Tablets as a Window to Memory

When caring for a person with dementia a tablet pc may well be one of your most valuable tool.  Ranging in price from $50-$200, tablets can be an excellent care resource.1

Research shows that the portable touchscreen devices, commonly called tablets, are useful not only to the individual with dementia but also to the caregiver.2 In a study of individuals with early -stage dementia, 50% of those in the study were able to use the tablet independently. Caregivers expressed relief in proportion to the amount of time their loved one used the tablet independently.

In a study of individuals with dementia residing in a nursing home, family members had improved access and communication due to the use of tablets. These residents were quick to accept the tablets because of their ease of handling and multiple easy-to-use applications. Communication improved as did negative behaviors. The residents using tablets had an increase in well-being and a better response to memory training.3

As a home health trainer, I have found that tablets are perfect for memory engagement particularly if the home health aide has details on the individual’s biography.

For example, a man whose pride and joy was an Ensign sailboat was easily engaged when the home health aide pulled up images of Ensign sailboats. From there a conversation was started that not only activated his memories but increased his sense of satisfaction with the non-family caregiver and decreased his anxiety.

If the individual’s biography is unknown, the tablet can be used to provide nature scenes, music, even comedy sketches that can generate engagement and connection. Research shows that biography-driven care empowers the individual, staff and family.4

Footnotes

1http://www.tabletpccomparison.net/tablet-pc-prices/cheap-tablets

2Lim, F.S., Wallace, T., Luszcz, M.A., & Reynolds, K. J. (2013). Usability of tablet computers by people with early-stage dementia, Gerontology,59(2): 174-182.

 

3Nordheim, J., Hamm, S., Kuhlmev, A., & Suhr, R. (2015). Tablet computers and their benefits for nursing home residents with dementia: Results of a qualitative pilot study, Zeitschrift fur Gerontologie Und Geriatrie,48(6): 543-549.

 

4Kellet, U., Movie, W., McAllister, M., King, C., & Gallagher, F. (2010).  Life stories and biography: a means of connecting family and staff to people with dementia, Journal of Clinical Nursing, 19(11-12): 1707-1715.

 

About Cate

Passionate about dementia care and quality of life throughout the last days of life----sums up Cate McCarty, Dr. Cate, Dementia Coach. With close to forty years of long-term care experience in nursing and recreation, a Master's in Thanatology and a PhD in Aging Studies, Dr. Cate seizes every opportunity to translate research into quality of life for individuals with dementia and all of us who have the honor to "rub elbows" with them.
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