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iPads and touchscreen technology used to tackle dementia in Camden

Stock photo of an Apple iPad, a Kindle HD and a Samsung Galaxy S3 android phone. Stock photo of an Apple iPad, a Kindle HD and a Samsung Galaxy S3 android phone.

Monday, June 9, 2014
1:36 PM

Healthworkers in Camden are using iPads and other touchscreen technology to help the borough’s residents with dementia.

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Cynicism linked to dementia

A study has shown for the first time that cynical people who distrust others are three times more likely to develop dementia than those with a more positive outlook.

Scientists made the discovery following research involving almost 1,500 people who were assessed over a period of 16 years.

People were asked how much they agreed with statements such as “I think most people would lie to get ahead,” “It is safer to trust nobody” and “Most people will use somewhat unfair reasons to gain profit or an advantage rather than lose it”.

The study, conducted by scientists at the University of Eastern Finland, found those showing higher levels of cynicism were more likely to develop dementia at a later age.

Camden’s diagnosis rate for the mental illness is now the fourth highest in London and 23rd highest out of all 211 Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in England.

The innovative programme sees people with dementia using touchscreen tablets to listen to songs, watch film clips and look at images and photos that stimulate and bring past memories to life.

Dr Caz Sayer, chair of Camden CCG, said there was “good evidence” that computer technology could be a useful tool to support people with dementia.

“Dementia and technology may not seem an obvious match but bringing past memories to life in a visual or sensory way can be of huge value to people with dementia who sometimes have difficulty with communication,” she said.

“These memories can encourage new ideas and thoughts while using apps can provide an opportunity to learn new things, stimulating feelings of achievement, enjoyment and inquisitiveness.

“The process can act as an ice-breaker between the befriender and the older person, encouraging more social interaction and enabling the befriender to find out more about the person’s life story.”

Tracey McDermott, co-ordinator of the dementia befriending service, said carers who had trialled using touchscreen tablets found they had a positive impact.

“One older woman said she had always enjoyed singing so her befriender helped her watch a music video of The Beatles and they sang karaoke together and had a lot of fun,” she said.

“Another woman enjoyed looking at pictures of places she had visited and posters and synopses of films she had seen, which then prompted memories and conversations.

“Her befriender also helped her to find poems which they then read aloud and they used images and maps to see the countries her son was visiting.”

Common symptoms of dementia include memory loss, becoming confused in unfamiliar environments, difficulty finding the right words or dealing with numbers, depression and changes in personality and mood.

Anyone who is worried about their memory or is concerned about the memory of a loved one should speak to their GP.

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