Five apps to help people with dementia
There are 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, with numbers set to rise to over one million by 2025. It is currently an incurable condition so as staying mentally active has been found to be beneficial, it is no surprise brain training apps are becoming increasingly popular
However, it is not just brain training where apps can help people with dementia. With technology innovating all the time, there is now a whole host of apps that can make life easier, from reminiscence therapy to improving the environment that people with dementia live in.
Here are five apps that help to make the lives of people with dementia better.
Brain training app
A brain training computer game called Game Show has been shown to improve memory in people in the earliest stages of dementia. Researchers from the University of Cambridge developed the Game Show app and found that those who played the game over a period of a month had around 40 per cent improvement in their memory scores and thinking tests. While brain training will not ultimately be able to prevent or cure memory diseases like dementia, Dr Tara Spires-Jones of the University of Edinburgh believes it is a “promising way” to improve early memory symptoms of the disease. She adds that “activities that engage your brain like learning and certain kinds of 'cognitive training' increase connections between brain cells” which helps the brain withstand the damage caused by diseases like Alzheimer’s for longer.
App which improves balance
The risk of falling increases as people age, with the effects often being huge, both emotionally and physically. It can hit people’s confidence, make them feel extremely vulnerable and cause a loss of independence as well as causing extensive, physical injuries from which it can take a long time to recover. In a bid to reduce falls in older people, the Nymbal app has been developed. Residents at a care home in West Yorkshire have been trialling the app which measures, tracks and improves balance. After just four weeks, residents had an increased level of independence and were participating more in activities. The app, which is based on 35 years of clinical research, also offers a range of balance tools for health providers, including fall risk assessments, digital balance evaluations and 15-minute balance training interventions.
App to make people’s homes dementia-friendly
Stirling University’s Dementia Centre has developed the app Iridis to make people’s homes more dementia friendly, with advice on how to change the light, furniture, colour contrast and reduce noise. People using the app are asked to take photographs of their home and answer questions about it. Iridis, the dementia database, can make recommendations on any adaptations, such as changing lighting and signposting doors. The app is used mainly for the family or care workers of people living at home but can also be adapted for hospitals and care homes.
App to reduce isolation and keep people with dementia connected
The MindMate app enables people with dementia to still interact with friends and family as users can create photo books, play games with others and connect through a video chat option. Its co-founder Patrick Renner says: “MindMate has been designed to improve self-management of dementia and to help engage people.” The MindMate platform consists of three apps, one for someone living with dementia, one for a carer or family member and one for people living in residential care. The app features four main sections, including one with brain training games, a tool section with a photo book option, a third connection option where users can send messages to others or video chat. The final section contains music, nutrition advice and tips for exercising.
App showing challenges faced by those with dementia
The innovative app ‘A Walk Through Dementia’ offers people an insight into what it is like to live with dementia. The app created by Alzheimer’s Research UK and VISYON provides users with an immersive insight into the condition. The app uses a combination of computer generated environments and 360 degree video to illustrate how even the most everyday tasks, such as making a cup of tea, can become a challenge for someone living with dementia. Featuring three scenarios, users get to experience buying ingredients in a supermarket, taking them home and making a cup of tea for their family. The hope is the app will increase empathy and encourage people to be more considerate to the person with dementia.
By Davina Ludlow, chair of carehome.co.uk, leading care homes review site