Dementia and Technology

Dementia is a serious decline in global cognitive functions or mental abilities in a previously non-impaired person beyond what might be expected from normal ageing. The person loses cognitive abilities such as planning, recognizing people or objects, memory, languageor even the ability to reason. Dementia may be static, from a serious brain injury, or progressive, from a prolonged disease or damage. Despite a lot of research, there is no known cure and no way of reducing the progression of the syndrome.

Over the years, researchers have developed assistive technology to help patients with dementia. These technologies are aimed at letting people with dementia make independent decisions, offer more secure living, give more privacy and dignity,and be affordable and efficient. The technologies designed are classified as either fixed, portable or electronic. Fixed assistive technology involves adding to or completely changing an existing structure. This may involve construction of grab rails, use of wheelchairs, stair lifts, modification of light switches and showers and finally the installation of ramps. Portable assistive technologies are devices that aid daily living activities and include dressing aids, hearing aids, adjustable beds, riser-recliner chairs, walking sticks and other mobility-assist systems. New assistive technologies, telecare and existing technologies form part of Electronic assistive technologies for example smart wiring, electronic stoves, alarms, computers, smart toilets and alarms.

However, while anew idea or innovation may have the promise of improved potential benefits, it may alsobe subjected to misuse. A device may be beneficial but also have hidden costs to the person with dementia or to their careers. The main areas of concern with respect to such costs are firstly, about their impact on the telecare of the society and assistive technologies. Some may reduce human contact with the patient and also be used to decrease services rendered to them.Secondly, there are concerns the type of technology adopted may be difficult to use and far too complicated for the patient due to reduced reasoning ability.Also, there some devices may be designed to perform functions that the patient can still perform and thus worsening their condition. The current computer technologies rely a lot on the sharing of information and thus it takes continuous effort to ensure personal and sensitive information do not fall into the wrong hands.

Theories underlying the Cognitive process

Jean Piaget theory of cognitive development

This theory was developed by Jean Piaget and is concerned with how a child develops his thought process. It tries to explain how the process influences a child’s understanding and interaction with the world.Piaget argues that early development of cognitive senses is action based and later progresses to mental operations. The theory is divided into four stages of cognitive development:

Sensorimotor Stage – Piaget argues that infants obtain knowledge through manipulation of objects and sensory experiences in this stage.

Preoperational Stage – children engage in pretend play and acquire knowledge in the process but are still influenced by the point of view of others and have a difficult time with logic.

Concrete Operational Stage – although children at this stage start to be a bit logical, their thinking tends to be very rigid. They have to struggle with hypothetical and abstract concepts.

Formal Operational Stage – this last stage involves the ability to use deductive reasoning, increase in logic and the ability to understand abstract ideas.

Psychometrics theory

Is a theory that involves the use of calculated steps to measure human includes measuring personality traits, educational measurements, abilities and traits. The study focuses majorly on personal assessments.

Theory of multiple intelligences

The theory was developed by Howard Gardner. He argues that humans can process information differently and all these ways are independent. Gardner argues that a person is able to know the world through, spatial representation, logical-mathematical analysis, musical thinking, language, and use of the body to make things or solve problems, understanding of other individuals and understanding ourselves. He argues that students have different have different minds and thus understand, perform and remember concepts differently. Individuals differ in the strengths of their intelligence and thus why they solve problems differently. The challenge of the education system is to assume that everyone learns everything the same way. He therefore argues that the society would be better off if disciplines were introduced through different approaches and assessed through diverse means.

Gaps in technology

Some electronic assistive technology such as smart wiring may not be as easy to use among different patients with cognitive disorders as the developers would have anticipated. This follows Gardner’s argument of the need to destandardise the technology to try and suit the needs of different patients.

Cognitive abilities are developed through different means according to Piaget’s stages of cognitive development process. Thus patients with cognitive disorders need to be exposed to different environments to enable them remember what they ones knew. Being around people who love and care for them help in the process of trying to stabilize the condition of the patients and to avoid further degeneracy.


By using Piaget’s cognitive stages of development, care-takers of patients with cognitive disorders should be able to determine the stage each patient is in and thus the best medical steps to be taken to help improve their conditions.

Different individuals have different intellectual abilities. The care and attention given to different patients should be according to the measure of their intelligence which can be obtained through psychometrics theory. Thereafter, using Gardner’s theory, care can be given to the patients through diverse means depending on their levels of intelligence.

Contemporary relevance

The three theories are relevant to the argument on dementia and the impact of assistive technology.

Firstly, one of the symptoms of dementia is the loss of memory and recollection of past events. According to Piaget, children go through different stages in acquiring important life knowledge. By taking patients through similar stages, care-takers may be able to help patients recollect important events about their lives and also help maintain their intelligence. This will help the patients be more independent and help reduce dependence on human caregivers.

Secondly, in the theory of multiple intelligence, individuals gather knowledge from different sources depending on their environment and diverse interests. Thus, in caring for the patients, the caregivers should expose them to environments they are familiar with to trigger their recollection of the life they lived. The patients should also be around people who love them and will thus hasten their recover.

The part of this research that is training of care givers on how to calculate intelligence through psychometrics as this would require a lot of time and not-readily available expertise.

I plan to share my findings with the body in charge of cognitive patients in my country and discuss how to better improve the care of their patients using my findings and their expertise as part of the guideline.

Project Methodology

The socially responsible techniques that can be applied involve

Home based care of the patients.

Introduction of more efficient assistive technology in different care centers.

Destandardising the type of care offered to patient inorder to offer care as per the needs of each patient.

Implications of the techniques

Home based care

The patient is surrounded with love and support of family members. The exposure to familiar settings helps the patient constantly remember their setting and be aware of their surroundings. However this may also prove expensive as the patient needs constant specialized attention. The house should also be installed with the appropriate assistive devices such as ramps and guard rails

Technology in care centers

This will help to efficiently monitor patients within the facility and also help chart their progress. This however may prove costly to different institution. Also, it is not easy to find a single technology that serves the needs of all patients equally.

Destandardising the type of care offered

Standard healthcare is meant to cover as many people as possible. But patient may have similar but uniquely different conditions and thus the type of care offered may not be the most efficient. However, there are myriad cases of dementia and caring for each individual patient on without standard medication is impossible.

Therefore the best method I would advocate for would be promoting home-based care of the patients since this works to quicken their recovery and helps in keeping the patients comfortable. Families with members with dementia should be trained on the best methods to care for them. Incentives should also be offered on assistive technology to make them affordable.


Weiten, W. (2010). Psychology: Themes & variations. Belmont, Calif: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.

Gardner, H. (2010). Multiple intelligences: New horizons. United States: Read How You Want

King, T. W. (1999). Assistive technology: Essential human factors. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Piaget, J., & CTB/McGraw-Hill Conference on Ordinal Scales of Cognitive Development. (1969). The theory of stages in cognitive development: An address … to the CTB/McGraw-Hill Invitational Conference on Ordinal Scales of Cognitive Development, Monterey, California, February 9, 1969. Monterey: CTB/McGraw-Hill.

Robitaille, S. (2010). The illustrated guide to assistive technology and devices: Tools and gadgets for living independently. New York: Demos Medical Pub.