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Assistive technology at home

Memory aids for dementia

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Memory aids for dementia

Our guide to the best assistive technology memory gadgets to help people with dementia, Alzheimer's or memory loss to stay safe at home.

Whether you're suffering from dementia or general memory problems, there are a range of gadgets available that could make a real difference to your life. From gadgets that prompt you to turn off the taps when running a bath to those that can help if you get lost when you're away from home, there are a wealth of products on offer.

While memory loss is a key element of Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, forgetfulness can also be a part of the normal ageing process or a result of other diseases, such as depression or an underactive thyroid. If memory loss is a big worry for you, do consult your doctor who can assess its severity.

To help uncover the best memory aids, we asked a panel of assistive-technology experts to choose and review a range of memory aids - you can read their verdicts on each one in the table below. These include memory aids to stop your bath overflowing, medication reminders and pill dispensers, devices to help you monitor a relative who doesn't live with you and gadgets to stop you getting lost.

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Assistive technology - memory aids
Name of product Price What is it? Who is it for? Our verdict

3rings Plug

3rings

Multiple tariff options starting at £79 for the plug plus £12 monthly fee.

A further option is to pay £288 for the plug with a 24-month subscription included.

You plug a regularly-used electrical appliance into the 3rings Plug, and it alerts you via your smartphone, tablet or computer) if the appliance isn't used as expected. People with dementia, or who are frail or prone to falls, and can't communicate how they are.  Subscriber only content

Canary

Canary activity-monitoring system

Buy: £270, plus £15/month monitoring service.

Rent: from £36/month.

An activity-monitoring system that enables people to check on relatives living elsewhere. 

It logs activity using sensors in rooms and on doors – for example, how often a person uses the kitchen or gets up at night. 

It can alert you to problems, such as the person not moving in the morning, via a text or email. Visitors, such as paid home carers, can also use swipe cards when arriving and leaving.  

People with dementia or who are frail and can't communicate how they are. Subscriber only content

Dayclox (i7.1 model)

Dayclox digital day clock

£69 Easy-to-read 7-in digital day clock showing the day, time and date. It automatically dims at night. People with early or moderate dementia, partial sight or low vision. Subscriber only content

Envirotxt

Envirotxt temperature monitor

£99 A small plug-in unit with a Sim card that monitors the temperature in a frail relative's home and alerts you by text if the temperature rises or drops outside pre-set limits, or if there's a mains power failure. A frail relative who could mistakenly turn off or unplug the heating system, or have a power cut. Subscriber only content

Innohome Stove Alarm

Innohome stove alarm

£30 The battery-operated Stove Alarm is attached beneath your gas or electric cooker hood with magnets, or to the wall or cooker panel with screws. It learns how you use the cooker (to prevent false alarms) and sounds an alarm when the cooker temperatures rise, before a fire ignites. Someone easily distracted or forgetful who could leave the cooker turned on and unattended, risking a fire. Subscriber only content

Lifemax Friends & Family Home Safety Alert

Lifemax Home Safety Alert Mark II

£49

A wireless battery-operated (you can get a mains adapter), in-home pager that can be used to alert other people in the same property (three volume levels).


The system includes a base-station receiver and two transmitter pendants with both a call button with a range up to 60 metres. You could keep one pager permanently in, say, the bathroom.

Those caring for a sick or disabled relative at home. Subscriber only content

Magiplug

Magiplug bath device

£9

A bath-plug gadget that alerts you before your bath overflows and also warns if the bath water is too hot.

It works using a pressure-activated system; when your bath reaches a certain depth, the pressure plate in the plug opens to drain the excess water down your plughole. It changes colour when the water gets too hot.

People with memory problems or who are easily distracted. Subscriber only content

Memo Minder Mark II

Memo Minder mark 11

£19.50 The motion detector senses someone walking past and plays a personalised message in a relative’s voice – for example when placed at the front door: ‘Mum, don’t forget your keys.’ You can also use it to record a very short message to remind you or someone else of the day's tasks. Someone living alone who needs reminding about a specific task. Subscriber only content

Pivotell electronic pill dispenser Mk 3-11

PivoTell automatic pill dispenser

£114 You put up to 28 days’ medication in the box and it sounds an alert when you’re due to take it, stopping when you remove the tablets. Aimed to help those with memory difficulties, it can link up to a monitoring centre. People who need a reminder to take medication or whose poor memory puts them in danger of repeated doses. Subscriber only content

Sense Mother

Sense mother

 Around £250 - no monthly fees.

'Mother' and its four activity-based monitoring sensors (or motion cookies), attach to various objects in the home and continuously monitor your relative's health and safety.

For example, the sensors can be attached to a pillbox to make sure medication is taken (and send you or your relative a reminder if it's forgotten), a toothbrush or to the fridge door.

They can also measure room temperature and send a reminder if it goes outside the normal range.

People with dementia or who are frail and can't communicate how they are. Subscriber only content 

Telecare system

pendant alarm

POA

Telecare systems monitor vulnerable people and can send alerts when help is needed. At its most basic, telecare enables a person to call for help by pressing an alarm button on a watch or pendant. 

More intelligent pendants can also sense a fall. Both alert a call centre to organise help. Other sensors around a home can flag risks, such as someone not returning to bed within a pre-set time. Sensors can include:

- Smoke/heat sensors
- Bed exit/occupancy sensors (underneath mattress)
- Flood detectors
- Door-exit sensors
- Natural gas detector
- Carbon monoxide detector.

People who can’t monitor or respond to risks, such as fire or falling, themselves. Subscriber only content

Tile app

Tile app

 

 £20

You stick, hook or attach 'Tiles' to things that are easily lost,such as keys, a mobile phone or wallet. 

If lost, the items can be located using a smartphone app, which keeps tbs on where the sensors are using a Bluetooth connection.

The app shows the item on a map based on where the item was last tracked. The range is up to about 45 metres (150 feet). 

Tile is one of a dozen or more locator systems that are available.

People who are prone to losing everyday items, including people with dementia. Subscriber only content

TrueCall Care (re-named TrueCall Secure)

Truecall Care (re-named Truecall Secure)

£120 This phone system can block unwanted callers while letting trusted callers through. Unexpected or unwelcome caller hear a personalised message directing them, for example, to ring a family member who can check the caller is genuine. The trusted and barred-caller logs can be remotely managed over the internet or a telephone handset. People that are particularly vulnerable to telephone cold-calling tactics or want help with unwanted callers. Subscriber only content

Table notes: All prices include VAT, unless otherwise specified. Enquire if delivery costs are additional as this varies.

Prices and availability correct as of October 2016.

Other assistive technology and safety gadgets

Key locators and other locator devices

Key-locator devices work by attaching small sensors to any items that you frequently need – such as keys, reading glasses or your wallet.

A remote control with a transmitter will then track down any of these items that you mislay, by activating a loud audible alarm from the sensor that is attached to the item. They cost around £10 to £30.

Our Elderly Care website has more advice about safety and wellbeing in and out of the home.

Gas and smoke detectors

Smoke alarms and gas detectors that emit an audible alarm are vital if you're in danger of forgetting that you have turned on or left on the cooker. They are also available as part of a telecare package, alerting a call centre if an alarm is triggered.

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