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Tablet devices are helpful to those with dementia, says study

tablets are helpful to those with dementia

A recent study finds that touchscreen and tablet devices are helpful to those with dementia by keeping them engaged and entertained.

Dementia covers a wide range of diseases and conditions the bulk of which involve disorders of the brain affecting speech, memory, mobility and mood. And finding ways to keep engaged and active those living with dementia is both challenging and resource-intensive. Thus, learning more about the types of activities people living with dementia enjoy is beneficial for caregivers and families alike.

The study published in the International Journal of Medical Informatics recruited 30 older adults living with dementia to play computer games on touchscreen tablets to see whether they could be involved in independent activity with the tablets and whether there were some kinds of games they found more fun to play.

None of the participants had used a computer tablet before, but results showed that 90 per cent of study participants were able to manipulate the touch screen and play the games. And in post-play interviews, 91 per cent of those who played the games indicated that they enjoyed playing.

“This result further demonstrates the potential in touchscreen tablet devices for providing opportunities for independent activity that is also enjoyable,” say the study’s authors.

Contrary to their expectations, study participants did not give preference to familiar games over more modern ones. Instead, they were found to enjoy playing the Android app Bubble Explode in greater numbers than the more well-known game of solitaire.

Researchers further concluded that, contrary to their expectations, study participants did not give preference to familiar games over more modern ones. Instead, they were found to enjoy playing the Android app Bubble Explode in greater numbers than the more well-known (and perhaps more complicated) game of solitaire.

According to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, in 2011 there were 747,000 Canadians living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, representing 14.9 per cent of Canadians 65 and older.

The Alzheimer Society of Canada points out that by now many baby boomers are passing or have passed the age of 65, at which time the risk of dementia doubles every five years. They point out that medical and lost earnings costs of dementia currently stand at over $33 billion a year and that by 2040 costs are expected to rise to an estimated $293 billion.

Recently, McMaster University business professor Marvin Ryder spoke to the Stoney Creek Chamber of Commerce about emerging business opportunities in Canada associated with the aging boomer cohort. According to the Hamilton Spectator, Ryder said that provincial governments are going to be hard-pressed to supply services as boomers hit the prime years for cancer and heart ailments (between the ages of 70 and 80). This strain on health care budgets will push governments to offload services to the private sector, says Ryder, creating new challenges and opportunities for business.

Ryder emphasized that in holding the lion’s share of Canada’s disposable wealth (an estimated 70 per cent of it), boomers are keen to spend their money in ways that support their own health and lifestyles, rather than passing it on to their children. “Don’t count on that wealth being transferred,” says Ryder, “because [baby boomers] don’t plan to die at 68 — they’re going to have some fun with that money.”

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About The Author /

Jayson is a writer, researcher and educator with a PhD in political philosophy from the University of Ottawa. His interests range from bioethics and innovations in the health sciences to governance, social justice and the history of ideas.
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