New app gives users experience of dementia

A new virtual reality app has been developed to give users personal experience of what it’s like to live with the memory-affecting disease.

The app is called Dementia First Hand and has been created by Alzheimer’s Research UK, a leading dementia research charity, with the help of people actually living with different forms of the disease and who were keen to help people understand what everyday life is like for them. 

Helping to further understand dementia 

During the app, the user will experience three everyday situations that demonstrate the challenges dementia sufferers face. The situations include going to a local supermarket, walking down a busy street and spending time at home; three apparently simply situations that we experience almost every day of our lives but for those with dementia, these everyday occurrences can quickly turn into frustrating and potentially terrifying ordeals. 

The three situations are designed to mimic dementia symptoms, including difficulty processing written words, short term memory loss, changes in everyday habits and preferences, problems with navigation and spatial awareness and failing to recognise loved ones. It’s hoped that the new virtual reality app will both educate people about the disease and raise awareness by sparking conversations.

What is dementia?

Despite approximately 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK alone, the disease is often misunderstood as many don’t realise that memory loss isn’t the only symptom of the condition. Dementia is in fact caused by diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, that damage certain areas of the brain, leading to a decline in brain function and affecting such things as memory, cognitive ability, understanding, language and mobility. 

Common symptoms of dementia include: 

  • Difficulty recalling events or people
  • Struggling to concentrate, make decisions or carry out tasks
  • Difficulty with language and following conversations
  • Problems judging distances and seeing objects in 3D
  • Becoming easily confused and disorientated  

As the symptoms experienced by someone with dementia change depending on the areas of the brain that have been damaged, the disease will present in different ways from person to person. If you’ve noticed your memory has gotten worse over time to the point where it is affecting your day-to-day life, seek the advice of a doctor as soon as you can. 

You can download the Dementia First Hand app via your app store. 

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