Apps for Dementia – Understanding the tech behind it

The discovery, for caregivers, that iPads and tablets are a wonderful activity tool for people living with dementia, also brings with it concerns that internet and applications available can be frustrating and how will someone living with dementia avoid becoming overwhelmed.

To-date there has been a limited amount of research related to the cognitive accessibility of web or application design, so as a result the needs of people living with dementia have not historically been included.  Luckily this basic human right for everyone to be able to access digital information and activities has begun to be addressed for people living with dementia, but in the short term it will be the responsibility of the caregiver to review the apps and websites before recommending them to a person living with dementia.

So how do you do that?

The Dementia engagement and empowerment project’s (DEEP) guide, “Writing dementia friendly information”, is a great place to start to understand what you are looking for.  Is the language too formal?  Are the images relevant or confusing? Is all the information available on one page?

WebAIM provides a list of recommendations based on a combination of existing research and commonly-assumed best practices.  Does the page timeout too early?  Is the navigation predictable?  Is there distracting advertising.

The AmuseIT application design team, including Christian Sax our user-experience (UX) designer, faced this design challenge last year when we created the AmuseIT activity app design for people living with dementia.     Armed with the DEEP guides and the “Web accessibility guidelines” we worked with caregivers and people living with dementia to ensure the AmuseIT application was an accessible activity for all.  This is a complex area which we refined through trial and error.

Reviewing these guidelines will provide Caregivers with a basic awareness of what they need to consider when selecting activities for people living with dementia and as a result will have more success in introducing technology as an activity tool.

Don’t forget you can change the accessibility controls on your device from the “Settings” page to improve the experience by increase the contrast and enlarge the font.  Give it a go!

About Carey Fletcher

My story is, I am AmuseIT. Just one software tester manager who was struggling to communicate with her mother-in-law and also looking for a project that would make a difference in people’s lives. AmuseIT is a New Zealand (Christchurch) based software company. There are several categories of quiz questions ranging from animals, to sport, art and entertainment, general knowledge and home and lifestyle. Each category has been researched and validated by international experts. The questions are suitable for people from a wide range of English speaking countries and include questions that are internationally relevant.