What should you think about when choosing assistive technology? Here's our advice on considering technology if you or someone you support is living with dementia.
Assistive technology can help you to remain independent, safe, involved and active. Technology can also help other people to support you, and give them reassurance that you have the support you need. However, there are important things to consider about using technology.
Any technology must be suitable for you. Consider what you need and feel you can manage – it’s important to use technology that you are comfortable with or think that you could learn to use. For instance, if you prefer typing on a keyboard instead of a screen then a tablet device may not work for you.
The technology should work for you, and not the other way around. You may find some technology harder to use than others. You may find that you need to try different types of technology to find what works best for you.
If you are unsure what may help speak to a professional such as an occupational therapist.
If other people are helping to put technology in place for you, they should always make sure that what they are doing is in your best interests. The aim of using assistive technology should always be to enable you to be independent or safe, or to help you improve or continue living your daily life.
It is important that no decisions are made without your consent.If someone doesn’t have the ability (mental capacity) to consent, a decision would need to be made on their behalf. This would be made on a ‘best interests’ basis. However, the person should still be involved in the decisions as far as possible.
Consent is especially important when considering ‘safer walking’ devices (see the previous page), as use of these devices may take away someone’s privacy or could restrict their freedom. Anyone using this technology should be clear on how it works, how it can help and what information other people will be able to see.
The Mental Capacity Act 2005 sets out the law on making decisions for people who aren’t able to make them for themselves. It also includes guidance on how people can make decisions.
Using technology appropriately
Technology can be very helpful but it’s best to use it only as much as you need to. For example, it should never be used to replace all face-to-face contact. Staying in touch with others is very important for your wellbeing, so meet with other people face to face if you can. Technology should not be your only way of staying in touch with others.
Some technology can be expensive. However, you may be able to rent rather than buy it. You can also get some technology second-hand. This can be useful as you may find that the support you need changes over time.
Planning for the future
If you’re recording your wishes for the future (for example, in an advance care plan) you might want to mention technology that you do or don’t want to use. For more information about planning ahead see Advance decisions and advance statements.