From the Program Director | Summer 2017 Newsletter


Dear Readers,

We live in a world revolutionized by technology, a world unimaginable just a few short years ago. We have devices that connect us to friends and family around the globe, can access information in a second, and can measure heart rate, respiration, eye movement, blood sugar and other functions and instantaneously transmit these findings to a healthcare provider. The possibilities are endless.

For individuals facing the challenges of living with or caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia, technology holds the promise of easing the burden, strengthening connections, adding to the toolbox of activities that can engage the person who is affected, and provide comfort or stimulate memories.

In this issue you will read about some innovative products that were designed specifically for the Alzheimer’s family. We were excited to feature many of them in our inaugural Tech Fair in the spring. However, I encourage you to be creative about using the technology that exists and has become part of our daily lives.
For example:

  • Use calendar reminders to prompt busy caregivers to call in a prescription renewal.

  • Send a group text to friends and family who have offered to help, if you need a break on Friday night.

  • Find pictures of your relative’s home country, town, or favorite sport, or performer to stimulate conversation.

  • Find YouTube clips of favorite TV shows or movies.

  • Use the Amtrak app to make that reservation to Philadelphia when you need to travel.

  • Take photos of a pet or grandchildren to show to your relative.

  • Find word games and trivia sites.

  • Listen together to radio podcasts, if he or she always enjoyed Fresh Air, or Wait, Wait...Don’t Tell Me!

  • Scan important documents and list of medications, doctors’ names and contact information and upload to a secure location. In case of an emergency or natural disaster you’ll be glad you have access to this information.

  • Purchase the Balance: for Alzheimer’s Caregivers app. We are proud partners of The Hebrew Home at Riverdale on this project.

  • Use online services to order a meal or deliver groceries.

  • Download a meditation app to guide you and remind you to meditate daily.

  • Enroll in the MedicAlert® NYC Wanderer’s Safety Program online: www.caringkindnyc.org/wandersafety.

  • Use Fitbit or a similar tracker to make sure you’re getting your 10,000 steps daily, and to track your sleep.

  • Use Antidote to find clinical trials for Alzheimer’s and related dementias:
    www.caringkindnyc.org/clinicaltrials.

As I said, the possibilities are endless. Please share ways that you use technology to make your lives as caregivers or individuals with the disease easier. Please send your ideas to us at DBruzese@caringkindnyc.org and we will publish the top 15 in next quarter’s newsletter.

Now, a caveat: the internet is a great source of information, but caution is necessary. Not everything on the web is vetted and there are schemes to defraud unwary caregivers and persons with dementia with unfounded promises of cure or treatment. As much as technology can improve and enhance the experience of living with Alzheimer’s disease or caregiving, it’s important to maintain perspective. Alzheimer’s is a uniquely human disease and requires uniquely human support. Technology is a complement to the human interaction that is critical to maintaining our mental health and well-being.

Speaking to a Helpline Specialist on the CaringKind Helpline, attending a support group or having a meeting with one of our social workers is a dynamic, interactive experience. Not only is information exchanged, but there is an opportunity to share feelings, be understood deeply and to connect in a profoundly human way. We are a social species, talking with one another is healing and normalizing.

Many people affected by Alzheimer’s report feeling isolated and alone. Sharing online in a chat room or message board might be helpful, but for many it can’t hold a candle to the deep connections that are formed in the in-person support groups or speaking with a caring, compassionate staff member. So, use technology creatively and wisely and, as always, if you need our help, please call our 24-hour Helpline at 646-744-2900 or email us at helpline@caringkindnyc.org. We are here for you.

Sincerely,

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