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Monday, May 19, 2014

There's an App for That

It seems that no matter what you want to do, someone will remind you, “There’s an app for that,” and sure enough there is. Often it is things you don’t even think about. “How did you tie that scarf?” There’s an app for that. Apple owns the trademark for the slogan, but it now pops up in everyday language.

It has become a running joke that apps can make the difficult easy. They provide quick, simple solutions. We now have an “app generation” that knows they can click on an icon and have the knowhow that used to be passed from generation to generation. They take for granted having the world at their fingertips, a world that we couldn’t even imagine when we were kids.

As personal electronic devices become easier and more user friendly, we boomers have come to embrace the wonderful world of technology. What we have learned is something that younger generations have always had. We went through years of schooling without spell check, grammar check, the ability to just back up to erase the typed word, no Google search for research papers, rotary telephones plugged into a wall that served one purpose—conversation, and no concept of what an “app” was, or that it would ever exist.

Even those of us boomers with wild imaginations didn’t foresee the day when school kids would be walking around with text books on a slim device. And the thought of being in constant communication with our parents would have probably seemed more like a nightmare than a desired condition. Our parents were parents—not our best friends.

Now that we boomers are reaching the age when we are most vulnerable to Alzheimer’s, the brave new world has come up with a possible solution—maybe, just maybe, there is, or will be, an app for people with dementia.

I read an article this morning about Apple and Google technology helping fight Alzheimer’s disease. The article spoke of tests and treatments disguised as games. Wrist watches and eye glasses that could be used for GPS tracking, facial recognition, and help with daily living.

Maybe more research should go into developing smart phones, or other electronic devices, specifically for people with dementia, especially those who are in early stages. Devices would need to be easy to keep track of, super easy to use with voice activated apps, and pictures.

Think about the problems that people in the early stages of dementia have—they forget appointments, forget to take medication, get lost, have trouble communicating, and trouble problem solving. Well, I know for a fact that I’ve used my smart phone to solve the first three problems on that list. I’m not too likely to forget appointments when my smart phone reminds me. I had trouble remembering to take my morning medication until I put a reminder on my phone. Getting lost is not an option with GPS on my phone. Wouldn’t it be easier for the memory impaired to communicate if they could see the person they were talking to instead of just hearing them? After all, words are only seven percent of our communication with each other. Facial expressions are included in body language and account for 55 percent. We’ve already discussed that there’s an app for solving a myriad of problems.

Why not have Medicare dollars pay for technology to enhance independent ability rather than drugs that cause side effects and often diminish alertness? Not only can technology help now, it will be even more beneficial for future generations who have technology entrenched in their long-term memories.

copyright© May 2014 by L.S. Fisher

Article: Sun, Leo. http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2014/05/18/how-apple-and-google-are-helping-fight-alzheimers.aspx  

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