The HSE has launched memory technology resource rooms across the country, with the aim of helping people with memory problems to maintain their independence and improve their quality of life.
The rooms are designed to showcase a wide range of assistive technologies and supports for people with memory problems, including those with dementia, and their families.
Assistive technology refers to any gadget, product or system that helps a person with memory and recall. It promotes independence, helping people to manage risks and feel safer at home. Examples include:
-Memory aids, such as medication reminders
-Safety devices, such as night lights with sensors that automatically turn on as you pass them
-Communication aids, such as easy-to-use mobile phones or landlines
-Other devices, such as easy-to-use TV remote controls.
The resource rooms are laid out in a home-like environment and an occupational therapist will be on hand to explain the various technologies and how they may be of benefit to each person.
"Each person is different, so each visit will be tailored to your needs. Our memory resource room is very homely and welcoming, so visitors immediately feel at ease. At the visit, we will discuss and assess your memory strengths and weaknesses and areas where you are experiencing difficulties.
"Common challenges can include remembering plans for the day, feeling overwhelmed by digital technology like phones and remote controls, forgetting where things are and any safety concerns you or your family might have," explained senior occupational therapist, Joyce Jones, who runs the room at St Columcille's Hospital in Dublin.
The occupational therapist can recommend equipment that may be helpful, and also provide a demonstration, in order to help enable people to keep doing the everyday tasks that are important to them.
"We also offer emotional support and recommend other services available in the community for you and your family," Ms Jones noted.
Seventeen rooms have already been opened nationwide, with a further six due to open by the end of this year. The service is free of charge. Following their visit, families may decide to purchase equipment they feel may be helpful.
With the guidance of the occupational therapist, the aim is to keep costs to a minimum. There is also a loan facility in some of the rooms which allows people to borrow equipment and try it out at home before they commit to purchasing.
Tony, who cares for his wife Kallie who has dementia, said that simple technologies have made a difference to their lives.
"There's no two people the same, there's no two carers the same, and there's certainly no two people with dementia the same. These technologies are only little things to help, but every little thing is one thing less that I have to think about and worry about.
"Kallie loves music and has been jiving since she was born. We found a little speaker with a USB port that I have uploaded 700 songs to and we take it everywhere so that Kallie can sing away and enjoy the music," he explained.
People with memory difficulties and their family members can arrange to visit their local memory technology resource room free of charge. Speak to your GP or public health nurse, or make an appointment directly with your local room. More details can be found here
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