What problems do Alzheimer’s & Dementia patients face?

To develop an application properly, some of our own research must be done on what Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients need. My mother works in aged care, and my grandfather is diagnosed with a form of dementia, so I have derived some information from them alone. The SolisVR and VirtuCare solutions both focus on familiarity and jogging memories with relaxing scenarios, in addition to that personal experience.

The FightDementia website has a list of ways to help cope with someone who has dementia, with the first two being very relevant to developing a VR experience for them:

  • ‘A calm, unstressed environment in which the person with dementia follows a familiar routine can help to avoid some difficult behaviours
  • Try to keep the environment familiar. People with dementia can become upset if they find themselves in a strange situation or among a group of unfamiliar people where they feel confused and unable to cope’ (FightDementia, c2017)

The first of these can be addressed by gradually introducing the VR device to their routine and providing them with the calm and stress-free scenery walkthroughs, as well as using the voices and videos of friends and family to welcome them to the virtual world. The second is again addressed by the scenery walkthroughs – if kept generic, they can trigger memories and help the patient feel relaxed. A lot of more specific dementia advice, such as preventing hoarding, will not easily be helped using this technology – instead it can be used to assist them in remaining calm and to help them retain memory.

Fightdementia. 2017. BEHAVIOUR CHANGES. [Online]. [25 May 2017]. Available from: https://www.fightdementia.org.au/about-dementia-and-memory-loss/about-dementia/behaviour/behaviour-changes

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