Information and Communication Technologies in the Care of the Elderly: Systematic review of applications aimed at patients with dementia and caregivers.
Rosales Lagarde, Alejandra
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Background: The interest in applying information and communications technology (ICT) in older adult health care is frequently promoted by the increasing and unsustainable costs of health care services. In turn, the unprecedented growth of the elderly population around the globe has urged institutions, companies, industries, and governments to respond to older adults? medical needs. Objective: The aim of this review is to systematically identify the opportunities that ICT offers to health services, specifically for patients with dementia and their families. Methods: A systematic review of the literature about ICT applications that have been developed to assist patients with Alzheimer?s disease (AD) and their primary caregivers was conducted. The bibliographic search included works published between January 2005 and July 2015 in the databases Springer Link, Scopus, and Google Scholar. Of the published papers, 902 were obtained in the initial search, of which 214 were potentially relevant. Included studies fulfilled the following inclusion criteria: (1) studies carried out between the years of 2005 and 2015, (2) studies were published in English or Spanish, (3) studies with titles containing the keywords, (4) studies with abstracts containing information on ICT applications and AD, and (5) studies published in indexed journals, proceedings, and book chapters. Results: A total of 26 studies satisfied the inclusion criteria for the current review. Among them, 16 were aimed at the patient with AD and 10 at the primary caregivers and/or family members. The studies targeted applications that included assistive technology (44%, 7/16), telecare (37%, 6/16), and telemedicine (31%, 5/16). The information systems (56%, 9/16) and Internet (44%, 7/16) were the most commonly used enabling technologies for the studies. Finally, areas of attention more covered by the studies were care (56%, 9/16), treatment (56%, 9/16), and management (50%, 8/16). Furthermore, it was found that 20 studies (77%, 8/26) evaluated their ICT applications through carrying out tests with patients with dementia and caregivers. Conclusions: The key finding of this systematic review revealed that the use of ICT tools can be strongly recommended to be used as a lifestyle in the elderly in order to improve the quality of life for the elderly and their primary caregivers. Since patients with AD are completely dependent in most activities, it is necessary to give attention to their primary caregivers to avoid stress and depression. In addition, the use of ICT in the daily life of caregivers can help them understand the disease process and manage situations in a way that is beneficial for both parties. It this expected that future developments concerning technological projects can support this group of people.