By: Cassandra Briedis

Dementia is a condition that affects a person’s thinking, behaviour and ability to perform everyday tasks. It is the single greatest cause of disability for Australians over 65 years, with one new person being diagnosed every six minutes.

While there has yet to be a major medical breakthrough, technological advances are helping to make living with dementia a little easier.

To support Dementia Awareness Month this September, Australian healthcare provider¬† mCareWatch has released the latest version of its SOS Mobile Watch for the elderly and disabled. “If someone with dementia becomes lost or disoriented, a family member or carer can track where they are” mCareWatch co-founder Peter Apostolopoulos said.

An all-in-one smartwatch, phone, location tracker and personal emergency alarm, the SOS Mobile Watch is designed to help the wearer and the carer.

Julia Learson, executive manager of Bankstown City Aged Care, recently gifted 41 watches to the retirees at its Doninington Gardens facility. “They like the idea but felt a bit intimidated when listening to all the technology,” she said. “But I told them all you’ve got to do is press the red button.” She was most impressed by its sporty look and its waterproof design. “Lots of people have accidents in the bathroom,” she said. Ms Learson said the SOS Mobile Watch will also relieve pressure that the carers of dementia sufferers face on a daily basis. “The benefit of monitoring them is the lowering of anxiety,” she said.

This year’s Dementia Awareness Month campaign will focus on creating dementia-friendly communities and initiatives to improve inclusiveness for people living with dementia, their carers, family and friends. The initiative aims to follow the United Kingdom’s lead with British Prime Minister David Cameron issuing a national challenge in early 2012 to encourage acceptance and support for those affected by the disease. Visit mcarewatch.com.au and nsw.fightdementia.org.au