Imagine not being able to trust how your brain interprets what you see, or experience around you? Spatial and visual challenges are common for people living with dementia, and when combined with memory loss, gradually strip back a person’s capacity to navigate the world we live in.
In Victoria, smart thinking and a culture of creativity inspired Alzheimer’s Australia Vic to challenge this reality – virtually.
Are you game?
Wondering if the gaming tech so commonly used for recreation could be transformative, Alzheimer’s Australia Vic, formed an innovative partnership with locally based digitech experts to take up the fight.
“There are currently an estimated 97,000 people living with dementia in Victoria and this is projected to increase to 386,000 by 2050,” said Dr David Sykes, GM Learning and Development.
Alzheimer’s Australia Vic was well placed to think creatively, having a history of adopting new technology to improve outcomes.
“Given that an estimated 70 per cent of people living with dementia are living in the community, introducing dementia-friendly design principles is a critical issue,” said Dr Sykes.
“Tablets and apps are a part of everyday life so it’s important to provide information using these platforms.”
The Dementia-Friendly Home app allows a person with dementia to stay in their own home, as well as enjoy their regular lifestyle activities and involvement with their community, for longer. It does this by recommending practical changes around the home including:
- Simple things like placing ‘picture’ labels on cupboard doors
- More complex solutions like motion sensors that turn on lights
Norm Smith, a carer to his 53 year old wife, said the accessible tech enabled him to have the confidence to help his wife and have the opportunity to impact positively on her quality of life.
“Using the app affirmed ideas I’d had around labelling cupboards and keeping floors and hallways clear and well lit.”
Smart Partnerships on Hand
Alzheimer’s Australia Vic, based in Melbourne with branches throughout the state, had the advantage of smart partnerships nearby. Securing project funding through the joint Commonwealth and State Government Home and Community Care program, they turned to The Deakin Software and Technology Innovation Laboratory (DSTIL) to develop the app.
The research team who created the app are proud to turn their talents towards the fight against dementia.
“It is really exciting to be able to use our expertise in interactive, gaming and virtual reality technologies to support Alzheimer’s Australia Vic’s core mission of education and understanding of the reality of dementia,” said Deakin University researcher Professor Rajesh Vasa.
Possibilities at your Fingertips
It leaves you wondering doesn’t it? As you iron out the kinks of the day gaming, what sort of transformative outcomes might actually be at your fingertips if you took a similar approach to your company’s challenges as this Victorian based not-for-profit did? Imagine the possibilities.