Assistive technology

2. What is assistive technology?

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. This page summarises the types of device available in what is increasingly a fast-developing environment.

  • Assistive technology items can be found on the Alzheimer’s Society online store.

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.

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.