24-Hour Crisis Hotline: (877)SAFEGBC or (877)723-3422 Mental Health & Substance Abuse Issues

6502 Nursery Drive, Suite 100
Victoria, TX 77904
(361)575-0611
Fax: (361)578-5500
Regular Hours: M-Fri 8am - 5pm
Every 3rd Thurs of the Month - Extended Hours Until 7 pm

Alzheimers Disease and other Cognitive Disorders
Resources
Basic Information
Introduction & Causes of Cognitive DisordersDementiaAlzheimer's DiseaseOther Cognitive DisordersDementia Coping Skills & Behavior ManagementTraumatic Brain Injury (TBI)Conclusion and Resources
More InformationLatest News
Reminder Apps on Smartphones May Help in Early DementiaNeurologists' Group Issues Guidance to Families on Controversial Alzheimer's DrugTrial Begins of Nasal Vaccine for Alzheimer's DiseaseAlzheimer's Diagnosis May Come With Big Cost to Social LifeMany People May Be Eating Their Way to DementiaCould Estrogen Help Shield Women's Brains From Alzheimer's?Purrfect Pal: Robotic Cats May Help People With DementiaRight Amount of Sleep May Be Important in Early Alzheimer'sAHA News: Hearing Loss and the Link to DementiaDepression in Early Life May Up Dementia Risk LaterScientists Untangle Why Diabetes Might Raise Alzheimer's RiskTracking Key Protein Helps Predict Outcomes in TBI PatientsMIND Diet May Guard Against Alzheimer'sSigns of Early Alzheimer's May Be Spotted in Brain StemCould Cholesterol Help Drive Alzheimer's Disease?Common Eye Conditions Tied to Higher Risk for DementiaMultigenerational Study Finds Links Between ADHD, Dementia RiskMost Alzheimer's Patients Wouldn't Have Qualified for Controversial Drug's Trial: StudyCould Traffic Noise Raise Your Odds for Dementia?AHA News: What Are Researchers Doing to Stop Dementia?A Mentally Challenging Job Could Help Ward Off DementiaDirty Air, Higher Dementia Risk?An ALS Drug Shows Early Promise Against Alzheimer'sAHA News: Dementia Can Complicate Heart Recovery and TreatmentDeaths From Alzheimer's Far More Common in Rural AmericaCould COVID-19 Accelerate Alzheimer's Symptoms?Dementia Cases Will Nearly Triple Worldwide by 2050: StudyFDA Panel Advisor Who Panned New Alzheimer's Drug Speaks Out'Light Flash' Treatment Might Help Slow Alzheimer'sCleaning Up the Air Could Help Prevent Alzheimer'sLong-Term Outlook for Most With Serious Brain Injury Is Better Than ThoughtDrug Shows Promise in Easing Dementia-Linked PsychosisAHA News: Diabetes and Dementia Risk: Another Good Reason to Keep Blood Sugar in Check1 in 20 Cases of Dementia Occurs in People Under 65Could Menopausal Hormone Therapy Reduce Women's Odds for Dementia?Reading, Puzzles May Delay Alzheimer's by 5 Years: StudyTwo Major Health Systems Won't Administer Controversial New Alzheimer's DrugMost Marriages Survive a Spouse's Brain InjuryMedicare Mulls Coverage for Controversial Alzheimer's DrugFDA Head Asks for Investigation Into Alzheimer's Drug ApprovalNew Prescribing Instructions Tighten Use of Controversial Alzheimer's DrugMissing Teeth, Higher Odds for Dementia?AHA News: Smoking Harms the Brain, Raises Dementia Risk – But Not If You QuitHealthy Living Can Lower Your Odds for Alzheimer'sKeeping Same Nurse for All Home Health Care May Be Crucial for Dementia PatientsMost Cases of Dementia in U.S. Seniors Go Undiagnosed: StudyLilly to Seek FDA Approval for New Alzheimer's DrugCould a Type of Statin Raise Dementia Risks?Good News, Bad News From Alzheimer's Vaccine TrialPoor Sleep After Head Injury Could Point to Dementia Risk
Questions and AnswersLinks
Related Topics

Reminder Apps on Smartphones May Help in Early Dementia

HealthDay News
by By Amy Norton HealthDay Reporter
Updated: Nov 18th 2021

new article illustration

THURSDAY, Nov. 18, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Despite stereotypes about seniors and technology, a small study suggests that older adults in the early stages of dementia can use smartphone apps as memory aids.

The researchers found that older people with mild impairments in memory and thinking were not only able to learn how to use the apps, they said the digital aids made their daily lives easier.

The apps were not specially designed. The study tested the effects of two basic smartphone features: a reminder app that gives notifications of a scheduled event and a digital recorder app (such as the voice memo app on iPhones).

"We weren't trying to reinvent the wheel," said lead researcher Michael Scullin, an associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.

For the 52 older adults in the study, both types of apps turned out to be user-friendly, and helped with remembering daily tasks. By the end of the four-week trial, participants were giving higher ratings to their quality of life.

"We were pleased to see that it actually improved their daily lives," Scullin said.

It did take some coaching. Each participant was given a training session not only in using the app, but the smartphone, too.

Scullin said most had owned a smartphone prior to the study, but typically did not use it much.

"Maybe that was because no one had ever walked them through the steps," he said.

Scullin's team started with the basics — including how to turn the phone on — and then progressed to lessons on the phone's standard memory-aid app.

"It's not 'too hard' for them to learn," Scullin said.

There may be a stereotype that older adults are adverse to technology. But that's a myth, according to Dr. Howard Fillit, founding executive director of the nonprofit Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation.

"I don't think the data show that older adults can't or don't want to use technology," said Fillit, who was not involved in the study.

For one, he noted, many seniors see technology as a way to stay socially engaged.

But beyond that, Fillit said, there is growing interest in using digital technology to support older adults' health — the Apple Watch, and its ability to detect certain heart arrhythmias, being one example.

And, in fact, Fillit said, research is already underway to develop digital technologies that can help detect Alzheimer's sooner, by collecting data on users' behavior and mental performance.

Part of what's noteworthy about the new study, according to Fillit, is the focus on practicality.

"It addresses a common and prevalent problem in people with mild cognitive impairment," he said.

And that, basically, is remembering to do routine tasks, like taking medications or making an important phone call.

The study — published Nov. 17 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society — involved older adults who had been diagnosed with either early-stage dementia or mild cognitive impairment. The latter refers to difficulties with memory or other mental skills that may progress to dementia.

Participants were randomly assigned to use either the reminder app or the digital voice recorder app that was standard for their phone. Those using the recorder app were encouraged to record "intentions," such as, "When it is 7 p.m., then I will call my brother."

Twice a week, participants were asked to call a research phone number on a specific day and take photos at a specific location.

On average, both app groups accomplished about half of those assignments. That compares with a 20% rate in past studies where people with mild impairment were assigned similar memory tasks, according to Scullin's team.

And most participants — two-thirds — reported an improvement in their daily memory performance.

There are caveats. Fillit said that people with early dementia, versus mild cognitive impairment, could have more difficulty with smartphone apps.

And for some seniors, Scullin said, carrying a phone could present a fall risk. Putting the phone in a pocket when moving, so that both hands are free, would be important, he noted.

Beth Kallmyer is vice president for care and support at the Alzheimer's Association.

She said the group "encourages the use and further development of new technologies that can assist people living with Alzheimer's."

For people in the early stages of dementia, Kallmyer said, technologies like smartphone and GPS (global positioning systems) could help them navigate some challenges of the disease.

As dementia progresses, however, things change. "Even the best technologies will hold no benefit for those who lack the cognition to use or understand them," Kallmyer said.

Scullin said his team plans to do a longer-term study to see how well memory apps continue to serve people with milder impairment over time.

More information

The Alzheimer's Society has more on dementia and technology use.

SOURCES: Michael Scullin, PhD, associate professor, psychology and neuroscience, Baylor University, Waco, Texas; Howard Fillit, MD, founding executive director and chief science officer, Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation, New York City; Beth Kallmyer, MSW, vice president, care and support, Alzheimer's Association, Chicago; Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Nov. 17, 2021, online