What is assistive technology?

Find out what assistive technology is and how it could help make living with dementia easier

Dementia makes aspects of day-to-day life more difficult for the person living with the condition, and in some cases it may also put them at risk. Around the home, things like repeatedly mislaying keys can be frustrating, while others like leaving the gas unlit can be dangerous. 

Assistive technology refers to devices or systems that support a person to maintain or improve their independence, safety and wellbeing. It tends to refer to devices and systems that assist people with memory problems or other cognitive difficulties, rather than those that are used to aid someone with mobility or physical difficulties. 

There are many different ways that devices can help people with dementia. This page does not cover some basic items that can help people to cope with memory loss (such as a simple calendar, a noticeboard or sticky notes).

Memory loss

For more information on products that can help with memory loss, as well as strategies and tips, see our booklet The memory handbook.

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Similarly, items designed for problems with mobility, continence, sight and hearing are not considered to be assistive technology. These include mobility aids, continence devices and pressure relief mattresses.

Many assistive technology devices are electronic, but the term does not just refer to high-tech devices. However, devices such as smartphones and tablets, coupled with widespread internet coverage, are making technology more accessible for everyone in ways that we couldn’t predict just a few years ago. Widespread use of social media (such as Twitter and Facebook) also means that many people now live some of their life in a virtual environment, as well as in a more traditional face-to-face one.

All this means that the nature of assistive technology for people with dementia is changing. Technologies and ‘apps’ (applications or programs for smartphones and tablets) that have been developed for the general public are increasingly being used by people with dementia as well. Over time these mainstream technologies will probably replace many of the products that were developed specifically for people with dementia or disability.

Equipment and adaptations

Read about equipment and adaptation that can help with mobility, continence, sight and hearing.

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Technology can be used in a variety of ways, and for a variety of purposes. It can support people in carrying out everyday tasks and activities, enhance a person’s safety, support their social participation, and monitor their health. Assistive technology can help people who have problems with:

  • speech
  • hearing and eyesight
  • safe walking
  • finding their way around
  • memory and cognition (thinking and understanding)
  • daily living activities such as bathing and cooking meals
  • socialising and leisure.
Dementia-friendly information sheets

Alzheimer’s Society has worked with a number of other organisations to produce a Dementia-friendly information sheets that provides more information about assistive technology and how it can help people.

Read the information sheets
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Further reading