What is dementia and simulation apps?

Dementia is a degenerative disease that results in the impairment of human cognitive functions such as communication, memory, and thinking. The most common type of Dementia is Alzheimer disease. It is estimated that 47.5 million people have Dementia around the world and the numbers keep growing. Dementia has often been associated with older people over 65 because the likelihood of contracting the disease increases as we age. However, in recent years people under the age of 65 have also been contracting the illness as it is no longer a by-product of ageing. Dementia debilitates the quality of life as it interferes with the daily lives of individuals and impairs their visual perception as well as their ability to focus, communicate or even pay attention.

Simulation apps are apps that have been designed to mimic real-world activities in the form of a game closely. These apps are designed and used for different intentions such as predicting the outcomes of a scenario, training and even analyzing situations. Unless explicitly stated/defined, simulation apps typically do not have a set goal per se, but they instead allow players to control their environment/character independently. Some of the most popular simulation apps in the market today include war games such as call of duty, business games such as Airline Tycoon.

Today simulation apps are available for both healthy individuals as well as those who have dementia. These apps provide patients with benefits such as physical and mental stimulation while for the health individuals they can get a sense of how it is to live with dementia in its different forms and help to raise awareness of this disease.

Some of the apps that both sufferers and non-sufferers of dementia can consider include:

 

  1. Game Show

The game show is an app developed by the University of Cambridge that can be acquired through Peak on iTunes and Google Play store. The app is ideally meant to aid with improving the memory of dementia patients especially in the earliest stages of dementia. According to the developers, the app which consists of thinks tests has the capability of slowing down the degeneration of memory and thinking and increasing memory by 40%.  This is because the thinking test promotes learning and cognitive training thus strengthening the connection between brain cells.  This increased connectivity offers cognitive reserves that enhance the brains capability to endure damage caused by dementia.

Pros:

  • The game has demonstrated the capability to improve attentional processing speeds especially for patients whose cognitive impairment is mild.
  • Unlike other apps whose training packages tend to be boring and repetitive, the Game show app consists of a variety of training packages that ensure patient morale remains unaffected and they do not get bored quickly.
  • The difficulty levels of the game can be tailored based on a patient’s performance.
  • The app has a show host whose sole purpose is to motivate the patients to continue with the game past the last level that they played.

Cons:

  • The game is not ideal for patients whose dementia has profoundly progressed.

 

  1. A Walk Through Dementia

Developed by Alzheimer’s Research UK and VISYON, A Walk Through Dementia is an immersive simulation app designed for healthy individuals who do not have dementia. The Google Cardboard app is ideally meant to give individuals who are not suffering from dementia insight into the experiences of dementia patients. The app is presented through virtual reality so that you individuals can get a proper deep dive into what living with dementia is like seeing as each patient’s experience is unique to them. The app works by presenting the symptoms of dementia in three daily scenarios namely the supermarket, the road, and home. The scenarios are specially selected for the sole purpose of demonstrating how things that would be considered easy to manoeuvre pose a challenge for dementia patients.

Pros:

  • The app uses a combination of CGI and 360-degree experience to immerse you into the patient’s world fully.
  • It is incredibly realistic and unnerving and will have you empathizing with dementia patients.

Cons:

  • Requires VR headset to function and for the full effect to be realized.

 

  1. Virtual Home app

The virtual home app is a simulation app designed by Alzheimer’s Australia to help non-sufferers and care providers understand the challenges that dementia patients are likely to experience while in their homes. The app provides insights into the spatial and visual challenges as an effort to ensure homes are better adapted for individuals living with dementia. According to the app developers, Virtual home app is designed to ensure that dementia patient can live comfortably and longer within the community before they require hospice care.

Pros:

  • Aside from showing the challenges that dementia patients experience, the app provides a lot of well-researched information such as why specific colours or even patterns in the home are not a good idea for dementia patients.
  • The app is extremely affordable and available on both iTunes and Google play store.

Cons:

  • The app is not optimized for mobile phones as it was developed for tablets.

 

 

  1. Iridis

Iridis is yet another dementia simulation app designed for care providers and dementia patients. The app developed the University of Stirling Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC) and Space Group aids with making your home/living environment dementia friendly by assessing the environment and making design improvement recommendations on elements such as lighting, furniture, colour and even the elements producing noise that need to be reduced. Basically, the Iridis app was created to provide dementia patients with a more exceptional quality of life and ensure they remain independent for longer as it reduces confusion and risk. The app is ideally meant for home use but is adaptable for hospices and hospitals.

Pros

  • It can be adapted for use in other facilities aside from the home.
  • The app is available through the Apple iTunes and Google Play stores.
  • The recommendations provided by the app are cost neutral and immediately available at the push of a button.

Cons

  • While it is not necessarily a bad thing, the app does collate user information.

Check out the app here:

 

  1. Ether One

Created and developed by a six-person team from the British independent company White Paper Games, Ether One is an immersive dementia simulation app that provides puzzle games where the user is tasked with reconstructing memories using three-dimensional simulations of the details that the user can remember. The app is designed as an exploratory game where the first-person users can educate themselves on dementia while still being entertained.

Pros

  • Users playing the game receive insights on dementia and how it affects patients. The game demonstrates how fragile the human mind is.
  • The game is engaging as users can choose between solving puzzles or the story exploration path where they can unravel the story of the characters by themselves.

Cons

  • The game is exhausting as it takes at least 5 hours to successfully complete.
  • It cannot be used for patients who have dementia due to its somewhat complex nature and multiple dynamics such as the fact that it is played on play stations and PCs.

For more information about this game, click here:

 

 

  1. EDIE – Educational Dementia Immersive Experience

Just like A Walk Through Dementia, EDIE provides users with a 360-degree immersive experience into the lives of individuals who have dementia. It offers insights into the challenges that patients experience daily as they undertake activities that would be categorized as simple to a healthy person. Through the app, developers Alzheimer’s Australia Victoria seeks to grow empathy for dementia patients and increase education as well as the understanding of dementia. The app is available via Google Cardboard. Alzheimer’s Australia worked in collaboration with the Deakin Software and Technology Innovation Laboratory in the development and creation of the EDIE app.

Pros

  • It is affordable and easily accessible due to the fact that it is available on Google Cardboard.
  • Users/Care providers are taken through a workshop known as “Enabling EDIE” whose sole purpose is to deliver comprehensive training to caregivers that will help them improve the quality of life of dementia patients.
  • The app is available for free on both Google play store and iTunes.

Cons

  • The virtual reality headset has to be purchased separately.

 

  1. BEAT-D (Built Environment Assessment Tool: Dementia)

The Built Environment Assessment Tool: Dementia is an app developed by NSW/ACT Dementia Training Study Centre with support from the Australian government. BEAT-D is ideally meant to analyze the environment using an Environmental Audit Tool and then offer recommendations for improvement that are intended to improve the quality of residential care for people living with dementia. The app reviews element such as visual access, opportunities for regular life engagement, opportunities for community and privacy, the existence of wandering paths and open fields, size, safety amongst others that significantly affect the quality of life for the patients. It will then generate a report pointing out the weaknesses and strength of the premises/environment that can be used to make the necessary modifications for the improvement of a patient’s life.

Pros

  • You can get assistance from an expert at the research centre if after using the app you decide to make adjustments to your environment.
  • The app is available for free.

Cons

  • Even though the app is designed to make the life of dementia patients easier its use is limited to care providers as patients with advanced dementia may find difficulty in using it. This is because the app needs to acquire a lot of information that patients may not always recall.

 

  1. MindMate

MindMate is an app that uses puzzles to depict scenarios that help build on core functions such as memory, problem-solving and focusing abilities which degenerate over time with dementia patients. Through eight engaging games, the app allows users to monitor their progress, jolt their minds using learning materials all while being entertained.

Pros

  • Patients receive daily workouts, health tips along with other engaging activities that they can do to keep them entertained.
  • The app is free and is available for both Android and iOS.
  • It allows for the storage of personal information which is essential for patients with dementia. This means that the patients can remain independent as they have access to information that they need to go about their daily lives.

Cons

  • Even though the exercises vary, they are not tailored to the patient’s level and ability.

Find out more information here:

 

Final Thoughts

Millions of people around the globe are living with dementia, and the numbers are likely to continue increasing as the baby boomers age. Dementia is a disease that currently has no cure and this increase in the number of individuals suffering from dementia demands for the world to adapt and find other solutions for dealing with the disease.

The evolution of technology has resulted in the development and popularity of simulation apps. Dementia simulation apps are no exception as today you can find apps that can either duplicate a patient’s experience or environment with a lot of details. The impact of dementia simulation apps cannot go unnoticed as the apps have greatly improved the quality of life for patients and made it a lot easier for patients with dementia to be understood and empathized with. Unlike before when dementia patients would be quickly removed from the community and put into hospice care, dementia simulation apps have made it easier for communities and families to allow patients with dementia to be a part of them for as long as possible. This is because the simulation apps have provided a systematic reference point through which environments can be adapted to fit the needs of a patient.

Dementia simulation apps are a great way of complementing dementia care practices. This is because no two patients have the same experience with dementia an most of the dementia simulations available are adaptable depending on the level of dementia. When simulation apps are implemented correctly, dementia patients receive the best care that is centred on them as individuals and is focused on their abilities.

Even before using simulation apps, it is crucial that you holistically asses the patient and evaluate their cognitive skills and memory capacity as it will aid in making choices that are in the best interest of the patient throughout the care journey.

 

Serene Media offers a complete range of Healthcare online training for dementia awareness and many other courses for carers and anyone in the healthcare industry.