New app to improve lives of people with dementia

In a first, an app is being developed by researchers to help improve the environment at workplaces, public buildings and homes for people living with dementia.

The app being developed by the researchers at the University of Stirling in Britain will digitally assess how suitable a residence, care facility or other environment is for older people and those living with dementia and recommend changes that can be made to the building.

Lighting, colour contrast and noise of a house can impact an older adult’s quality of life as well as their ability to live more independently.

The app will take just 20 minutes to assess the suitability of a two-bedroom home for an older person, the researchers said.

“This is a unique opportunity to revolutionise how we improve day-to-day life for older people and people living with dementia around the world. We are creating a simple way for anyone to assess how dementia-friendly their environment is, and find out how to improve their surroundings,” said Lesley Palmer, Chief Architect at Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC) in Britain.

People living with dementia, family members, healthcare professionals, construction experts or designers using the app, will be asked questions about their surroundings, and asked to take photographs.

The dementia database, called IRIDIS, will suggest improvements ranging from changing a light bulb, to more complex improvements such as reconfiguring bathrooms.

“Typically, people living with dementia have greater demands on the health care services and providing guidance on how to adapt living conditions allows people to stay independent for longer and future proofs housing for autonomous living,” Palmer said.

“With around 50 million people estimated to be living with dementia worldwide, there is an immediate need to invest in our ageing population and provide improved services and facilities,” she added.

The data within the IRIDIS app will also make recommendations on property design and refurbishment for construction professionals, the researchers noted.