An Engaging, Specially Designed iPad App for Dementia
Who doesn’t enjoy a good game of trivia, a good book or conversation prompts that engage the brain and initiate conversation with others? When playing a game of trivia, doesn’t it feel great when you know the answers, and when reading a book, don’t you want it to match your interests and abilities (neither too complicated or too basic)? Generally, don’t we all want to feel good when we engage in any type of leisure activity?
For people with cognitive impairment, recalling information is often challenging and a game of trivia can easily become a frustrating and demoralizing experience. Moreover, books are rarely within the range of abilities of those who are cognitively impaired (as they do not take the needs of the person with diminishing abilities into account, including the complexity of the story and the size and type of font). And, equally important, many people who struggle with memory loss often get stuck – sharing the same memories or asking the same questions over and over, and clearly benefit from discovering new topics and interesting things to talk about.
Internationally renowned author and dementia expert Gail Elliot (Founder and CEO, DementiAbility Enterprises) has developed a unique app for an iPad, called Words and Wisdom™. The app aims to address the special needs of those with diminishing abilities. The goal is to engage people with dementia and other forms of cognitive loss in well-loved and familiar pastime activities: books, trivia, math and spelling challenges and prompts for chatting and reminiscing. The DementiAbility Words and Wisdom™ app helps people with dementia build confidence in their abilities by setting them up for success. A large print simple interface designed with aging eyes in mind allows many users to engage with this app without assistance from a caregiver. Users can select a book or conversation prompts or engage in specially designed questions that seek their input in categories related to trivia, spelling or math. When engaged in trivia, spelling or math, the user then takes their “best guess” by selecting one of two possible answers to the question. If the user selects the correct answer, a “Well done” message appears. If they select the incorrect answer they are invited to try again, and if the user continues to select the incorrect answer the Wizard says, “Well done”. This helps reduce frustration and inspire confidence.
As a front-line caregiver, I have found this app works best for people with moderate to late-stage cognitive impairment, but others have found that users with mild cognitive impairment also found it engaging and enjoyable (after all, who doesn’t love a perfect score). In many care facilities infection control is a top priority. This individualized activity requires very little set up and iPad can be sanitized between users. It’s a great way to engage someone who may be recovering from illness and unable to participate in regular group programming. And I must not forget to point out that the internet is only required when downloading the app onto the iPad. No internet is required after it has been downloaded. This is a great asset, as the user does not have to worry about connecting to the internet.
Congratulations Gail on developing another great resource for those living with dementia and other forms of cognitive impairment!