Norm Smith, Carer showing Martin Foley, Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing The Dementia-Friendly Home app. Photo: Arsineh Houspian.
Carer Norm Smith shows Martin Foley, Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing the Dementia-Friendly Home app. Photo: Arsineh Houspian.

A new tablet app launched yesterday provides carers with ideas for adapting their home to be more accessible for people living with dementia.

The app, which utilises interactive 3D game technology, was developed by researchers from Deakin Software and Technology Innovation Laboratory in partnership with Alzheimer’s Australia Victoria.

Based on ten dementia-enabling environment principles, the Dementia-Friendly Home app recommends practical changes to the home that may improve the quality of life of a person with dementia.

Many of the app suggestions are small, inexpensive ideas, such as placing labels with pictures on cupboard doors or using plain bed covers that contrast with the walls.

More significant changes include installing motion sensors that turn lights on and off when people walk through the house, using open shelving in the kitchen and changing busily patterned wall or floor coverings.

Norm Smith, a carer, said he wanted to help his wife Cathy, 53 and living with dementia, to feel comfortable in their family home.

“Using the app affirmed ideas I’d had around labelling cupboards and keeping floors and hallways clear and well lit.

“It also made me realise I need to try to pre-empt situations that could be challenging for Cathy when we visit other people’s homes or our church.”

Maree McCabe CEO Alzheimer’s Australia Vic said most people are not aware that people with dementia may experience spatial and visual challenges as well as the more commonly understood memory issues.

“Identifying ways the home and environment can be modified to ameliorate any challenges will make a difference to the person living with dementia,” Ms McCabe said.

The joint Commonwealth and State Government Home and Community Care program funded the development of the app, which was launched by the Victorian Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing, Martin Foley.

The Dementia-Friendly Home app is now available from the App Store and Google Play Store for $2.99. Further information can be found at the Alzheimer’s Australia Vic website.

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