New dementia app makes for a better visit

Dementia Australia has released a free iPad app to assist families and friends to better communicate with a loved one living with dementia.

A Better Visit is interactive, stimulating and fun. 

Gamer and television presenter, Dementia Australia Ambassador Stephanie ‘Hex’ Bendixsen, said the games in A Better Visit would help family and friends be more engaged when visiting someone with dementia. 

“I cared for my mother Wendy, who died earlier this year from dementia, and I wish an app like this had been available because it can be challenging to come up with different things to do and talk about, especially as symptoms progress,” Ms Bendixsen said.

“Playing noughts and crosses with some classic songs linked to your moves or using the window washing game to reveal images of iconic Australian locations can’t help but prompt further conversations or enjoyment of play as a shared experience.

“The games, the sounds and the easy functionality enables people living with dementia to play with you. Anything that helps you bring on a smile is welcome in my book.”

CEO Maree McCabe said family members often told Dementia Australia they didn’t know how to communicate or interact with a loved one who had dementia especially as it advanced.

“And it may follow that other family members, children and friends start to withdraw and become less likely to include the person with dementia in everyday activities or schedule in regular visits,” Ms McCabe said.

“Over time this social isolation can have a profound impact on the person with dementia and the primary carers.

“A recent Inclusion and Isolation report by Dementia Australia found more than 60 per cent of people said they didn’t know what to say to someone with dementia. 

“By playing the games in the app, carers and other family members will be inspired to engage with the person with dementia through the interaction, images and sounds enhancing their enjoyment and discussions.”

A Better Visit was sponsored by Lifeview Residential Care. CEO Madeline Gall said the app was different from other products on the market as it was developed in close consultation with people living with dementia and their carers at its homes in Victoria.

“By observing and listening to our residents living with dementia, a team of Swinburne University researchers supported by Dementia Australia was able to tailor certain elements such as adjustable speeds, songs to prompt toe-tapping and singalongs, and clear buttons and uncomplicated instructions,” Ms Gall said.

“Our staff observe families visiting and sitting next to their loved one struggling to maintain conversation. Through the stimulation and interaction that A Better Visit prompts, we would hear more laughter and chatting.

“What’s more, we observed after the game play, the resident’s mood would be more upbeat and often that positive mood would continue even after the families had gone home.”

A Better Visit is available for iPad only and can be downloaded for free at the App Store.

Further information can be found here.

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