Carers say tech is crucial for people with dementia but they need digital skills support

Older woman speaking with younger man at a tableNew research from telecommunications company BT Group has highlighted how technology can play a crucial role in aiding dementia patients - yet many carers don’t have the skills to benefit.

The findings from BT Group, show two-thirds (66%) of people who care for someone with dementia believe technology can enhance the quality of life of those living with the condition.1

This includes using smartphones for reminders and alarms, managing medication, playing music to calm agitation and keeping connected to friends and family.

However, 40% of carers are unsure how to use technology in their caregiving routines, and 52% feel there isn't enough training to help them use tech in caring for their loved ones.

Learn more about how tech can help with managing dementia

AbilityNet and BT Group are working in partnership to help improve the digital skills of older and digitally excluded people by providing free digital skills training to support older people (65+ years) in various areas across the UK. Find out how you can access support.

As part of the partnership AbilityNet is hosting a free webinar with the support of BT Group and with guest speakers from Alzheimer's Society and Recreo VR, on Wednesday 10 July, to show how tech can help people with dementia or cognitive disabilities:

-Free webinar: Dementia, Ai and simple tech tweaks that can help – with Alzheimer’s Society   Wed 10 July 1-2pm BST   Image shows older man and younger woman smiling   Alzheimer’s Society and Recreo VR logos, plus AbilityNet and BT Group logos   Register today at:   www.abilitynet.org.uk/Dementia-Webinar Free webinar: Do you or someone you know live with dementia?

In the UK over 944,000 people are currently living with dementia - and one in three people will care for a person with dementia at some point in their lives.2

At our free webinar that took place on 10 July 2024 guests shared inspiring stories and practical tools to show how tech and digital devices can help if you or someone you know has dementia.



Watch the webinar

Carers and experiences with technology

Full-time carer Rachel Haworth, 53, from Southampton, looks after her mother, Brenda, 89 who was diagnosed with vascular dementia in 2020 following the death of Brenda’s husband Gerry.

Two people sitting with laptops in room with warm fireRachel worked as a professional carer before becoming her mum's primary carer after her condition emerged 10 years ago. She says technology has been transformative for them - not only in supporting daily routines but also leading to improvements in her mum’s condition. 

She said: “I’ve been a carer for older people with all sorts of special requirements and cognitive disabilities for a long time, so I know just how important technology has become in the last decade or so. 
“As a family we’ve gone from a world where everything was pen and paper to one where tech plays a crucial role in our daily lives. 

“We now use tech for basic things like setting up alerts for medication, booking appointments and staying in touch with the carers who support me. They’re simple but they make such a big difference to ensure we’re all on the same page and are essential to helping mum enjoy a good quality of life. 

“My mum also has a tablet now, which she uses to play games, which are great for her mind – she uses messenger as well, which means she can call her grandkids whenever she likes. “The positive change in her over the last year or so has been remarkable – a real turnaround we never thought we’d see. 

“She keeps up with current affairs and remembers names in a way she couldn’t even a year ago.

“Embracing technology isn’t just about convenience; it's about preserving independence and dignity. I’ve seen how tech has given mum a sense of empowerment and connection that I would never have thought possible." 

Watch back our Dementia, AI and simple tech tweaks to help webinar that took place on Wednesday 10 July, to learn about more ideas for tech that can make a difference to people with dementia:

Watch the webinar

 

Tech issues for carers at home

The BT Group study also looked into what’s stopping people from using technology in their caregiving routine.

It found 43% of carers believe they lack the skills required to use tech for caregiving and nearly a third (32%) feel overwhelmed by how to use it.

Victoria Johnson, Social Impact Director at BT Group, said: “Technology holds so much potential to enhance the lives of older people and those living with dementia and cognitive disabilities. Yet our research shows getting to grips with tech can be daunting for carers.

Sarah Brain, smiling“The AbilityNet webinar is part of BT Group’s purpose, We Connect for Good, which aims to tackle the UK's digital divide by empowering people with the knowledge, resources and confidence to live life in the digital world.”

Sarah Brain (pictured), Head of Free Services, AbilityNet, said:

“Technology can be a real ally in dementia care, but if you don’t know what’s out there or how to use it then it’s daunting for carers and those living with dementia. 

“At AbilityNet, we assist older and disabled individuals by providing advice, support, and training with tech. This upcoming webinar on 10 July is an excellent starting point to help carers explore available resources, and see how, together with BT Group, we can empower them with the knowledge and tools they need."

Free tech help for over 65s

AbilityNet in partnership with BT Group logoIf you are over 65, or if you know someone who is over 65 who would like to receive free, in-person or online digital skills advice, we're offering training sessions in locations across the UK including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff and London.

You can choose to set up or attend a group workshop or request a 1:1 session in your home.

Sessions are tailored to individual needs, and cover topics such as:

  • learning how to use email
  • making video calls
  • using online banking and book medical appointmentsusing a smartphone, staying safer online or getting to grips with the internet.

Book your Digital Skills session

 

You can also contact AbilityNet if you are disabled or a senior citizen and need support with your digital devices - call our helpline on 0300 180 0028 or request help from an AbilityNet volunteer.

References

  1. Research from an Opinium poll of 500 adults who provide care for someone with dementia, carried out on behalf of BT Group in June 2024.
  2. NHS website

Further resources

Access our Dementia and Technology resources

Workplace training: choose from a selection of online learning options for you and your team

Factsheets: Easy Read versions of free disability and technology factsheets now available

How AbilityNet can Help

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