Virtual Dementia

News / Simon Parker / June 11, 2020

Professor Kon Mouzakis, Codirector, Applied Artificial Intelligence Institute (A²I²), and his team are using technology to transform dementia care at home and in aged care facilities.

Dementia currently affects 50 million people worldwide and is predicted to increase to over 130 million people by 2050.

In Australia, it’s estimated to affect more than 447,000 people.

Almost 1.5 million people are involved in the care of people living with dementia in Australia and the cost to our economy in 2019 is estimated to be more than A$15 billion.

“We have been working with Dementia Australia to improve the quality of life of people living with dementia by increasing the understanding of those who care for them,” says Professor Mouzakis.

“Dementia Australia originally came to us with a problem. They knew that people with dementia could be supported to stay at home longer if a few adjustments were made to accommodate their symptoms.”

“They had a website about how to create a dementia-friendly home, but it had a lot of information and not enough practical examples. We took the information from that website and created the Dementia-Friendly Home app.”

“The app is an interactive experience that allows you to move through the rooms of a typical home and immediately see the elements that need to be changed to transform the house into a better place for a person with dementia.”

“In the kitchen, you can look at the stove, cupboards or floor and see hotspots and make simple changes such as adding labels and pictures to cupboards or changing solid cabinet doors to glass.”

“The aim was to make it possible for people with dementia to stay in their own homes for as long as possible,” says Professor Mouzakis.

Following the success of this application, Dementia Australia asked A²I² to explore how technology could be used to train carers in aged care facilities.

The aged care sector has expanded dramatically in recent years and one of the biggest issues is training people who care for the elderly.

“Dementia Australia and A²I² came up with EDIE (Educational Dementia Immersive Experience), a virtual reality application that puts the user in the shoes of a person living with dementia,” says Professor Mouzakis.

Written by Betty Vassiliadis

This story was originally published in dKin Magazine.