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How memory apps can help people with dementia tap into their past

(THE GUARDIAN) , August 24, 2016 — New apps that help people with dementia to reminisce about their earlier lives have the potential to transform their care and their quality of life

More than 650,000 people in England have dementia and that figure is expected to double by 2040. With wildly differing standards of careacross the country, there is growing interest in the role technology could play.

When Robert Armstrong was admitted to The Uplands care home in Shrewsbury, he had a habit of waking up in the middle of night and wandering about. At first staff thought he was just a poor sleeper, but the 68-year-old would become very aggressive when care workers tried to guide him back to bed. He would often need medication to calm him down. It wasn’t until care workers started working more closely with the family to map his life history that they discovered Armstrong had been a milkman for 40 years and thought he was getting up to go to his job. “So when he woke up at 3am, the night staff gave him a cup of tea and biscuits and then he did his ‘rounds’,” says Mandy Thorn, managing director at Uplands. “Robert had a milk crate in his room and he went round leaving milk bottles outside all the residents’ doors. At 6am he had breakfast and went back to bed, while staff picked up the bottles and put them back in his crate, ready for the next day.”

Thorn says the effect was instant and transformed Armstrong’s quality of life until his death in early 2015. “We had no more aggression and no need for medication to calm him down. And he was really happy until the day he died.”

Source: How memory apps can help people with dementia tap into their past | Anna Bawden | Society | The Guardian