Let's Talk about Dementia

The role of technology while living well with dementia


The Scottish Dementia Working Group (SDWG) is a national campaigning and awareness group whose members live with a diagnosis of dementia. Every Tuesday at 10.30am, the group meet in Oxford street Glasgow for their iPad class. The group is facilitated by our volunteer Jenny who gives up her time each week to support the members to build their confidence and skills in using their iPad. The iPad group is closely linked to 3 of the 5 members priorities which include maintaining independence, raising awareness and member development.

Dementia research indicates that iPads can support the person to engage in meaningful activities and to maintain connected to their community. The group are passionate about maintaining their independence and strive to continue to ‘live well with dementia’. Many of the members use their iPads to connect with their families, friends and each other. Jenny our volunteer has created a weekly iPad programme where the members focus on different functions of the iPad each week. The topics include learning how to use Skype, Facetime, Facebook, organise your calendar, email, word, excel, audio books and exploring apps and technology specifically designed for people living with dementia.

In August, the group learned how to create a music playlist on Spotify. The group started by encouraging the members to write down their favourite songs and artists. The members were further encouraged to indicate if the song triggered a memory. One of the members recalled living in Russia for a few years after listening to the English version of the Russian national anthem. Another member recalled listening to her dad singing old folk songs in their home. Listening to music has benefits for the whole population but for people with dementia, it can recall positive feelings, the person can experience cognitive stimulation and revisit past roles.

Amongst the group, there is a mixture of rock, classical, folk, pop and jazz music interests. Its often assumed that people living with dementia have the same interests, but it was clear from the groups varying music genres, that the members are unique individuals with differing interests. Furthermore, Jenny supported the members to search and save their songs to their personal playlist so they could easily access it at home. One member reported that he ‘will no longer get anything done’.

For the members, engaging in the iPad group is much more than learning the necessary skills to use the device. The group is a social outlet where members can meet and have a ‘blether’, it also supports the members to maintain their social connections and furthermore, gives them the choice to engage in activities meaningful to them.

If you would like to find out more about the group or to get involved, please contact SDWG on 0141 410 1171 or sdwg@alzscot.org

or follow us on twitter @S_D_W_G

or have a look at our website http://www.sdwg.org.uk/

 This blog post was written by Danielle Timmons, 2019 occupational therapy intern in agreement with SDWG. The occupational therapy intern roles at Alzheimer Scotland gives the student the opportunity to enhance their knowledge and understanding of dementia while also generating outcomes of value and relevance to people living with dementia and help deliver the SDWG strategic priorities.