Reprinted from McKnights Senior Living                        




An emerging benefit of artificial intelligence, and digital solutions, for handling dementia patients is the ability to create an easily-accessed profile of long-term care residents and their behavioral needs.

In fact, a digital aid is so effective in helping caregivers during episodes like wandering that it could reduce the need for psychotropic drugs, according to at least one AI-enabled app developer for memory care.

“You often have several caregivers coming into a home or residence, there’s different people working with the resident,” said Linda Buscemi, PhD, and co-founder of memory tech company TapRoot. “How do we know a problem [with a resident] is environmental? Gender? Time of day? An app is able to provide that information at your fingertips.”

TapRoot’s solution, Ella, has been around for several years for long-term care providers, but the company is hoping to make the program available to the general public in the near future, Buscemi said during a recent discussion on the “Dementia Untangled” podcast.

Caregivers who use Ella not only have a built-in profile of residents, but when they describe a particular episode — for instance, if a resident is having trouble in the bathroom — the app can pull over 600 strategies for handling an episode; in data analyses, the app correctly identified a solution 87% of the time, Buscemi said.

Podcast co-host Heather Mulder described a situation when she was a caregiver, where she spent three hours walking in circles with a patient who had wandered out of the residence and was certain their family was about to pick them up.

“The amount of training I’d received to handle [my residents] was minimal,” Mulder concluded. “If only there was an app at that time!”

While TapRoot’s Ella is one of several apps aimed at caregivers, there are a number of AI-enabled apps that are designed to help seniors with dementia in various ways. The oldest apps track behaviors and try to help seniors with their daily routines. More recent apps include Amicus Brain’s sentence-completion app for those who struggle with speech, and another in development that provides multilingual touch screen games for dementia.

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