Background: Technology can be utilized to improve the lives of patients with neurological conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease (Alzheimer’s) and MCI, and their caregivers. In fact, several technology companies are developing tools specifically for the Alzheimer’s and MCI community. We investigated which technologies were being utilized by patients and caregivers to better understand the needs of the Alzheimer’s and MCI community.
Method: We extracted Alzheimer’s and MCI-related conversations from social network sources (such as Twitter, Blogs, Forums, etc.) from April 1, 2017 through October 31, 2018. Based on netnographic and qualitative research methods, we analyzed these conversations to understand what types of technology are being utilized by patients and their caregivers, and the impact technology has on their lives.
Result: Caregivers and patients with Alzheimer’s and MCI mention utilizing digital, mobile, and/or artificial intelligence devices to treat and/or manage daily life with cognitive impairments and behavioral impairments/neuropsychiatric symptoms. However, it is unclear if these technologies are delaying progression of the disease or if they are simply temporary treatment/management. The type of technology mentioned most often assists with communication, safety/security, memory, and/or mood/agitation/wandering. There were few mentions of technology to help patients with functional impairments including activities of daily living. However, there are some mentions of technologies to assist caregivers with management of functional impairments. There were no mentions of caregivers and/or patients using technology designed to provide intervention and/or feedback as the patient’s symptoms and impairments progress. Caregivers and patients infrequently mention Alzheimer’s and MCI-specific technologies and technologies in development. They frequently mention non-specific, popular technologies.
Conclusion: Our findings suggest there is room for the development and utilization of technology in Alzheimer’s and MCI: 1) Existing technology is being utilized/helping patients and caregivers to assist with the management of Alzheimer’s and MCI. 2) There is a need for technology to help patients with functional impairments including ADLs, and a need for technology to evolve in interventions/feedback as the patient’s symptoms and impairments progress. 3) More studies are needed to determine if technologies can delay progression of Alzheimer’s and MCI and/or improve the quality of life for patients and caregivers.
Diana Conger, B.S. and MBA, Christine Rudnick, B.A., Diane Noland and Megan Newcomer, B.Ss., B.A., B.F.A.
NetNoggin, LLC, Frederick, MD, USA