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How a Video Game Might Help Someone With Dementia

Video games and dignified dementia care don’t initially appear compatible, but advocates from Alzheimer’s Australia Victoria have teamed up with a group of designers from Opaque Multimedia to turn this notion into a reality–by using virtual reality.

“The Forest Project,” a video game that is tailored to people living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, was just announced at the annual Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, CA.

More than just a game

“We’re constantly looking for the game-changers–the innovations that will make a difference to the quality of life for people living with dementia,” says Maureen McCabe, CEO of Alzheimer’s Australia Vic, in a statement.

The organization has already used technology to design a special simulation room for both people with dementia and their caregivers, called the Perc Walkley Dementia Learning Centre in Melbourne, Australia.

The room is equipped with mood lighting, gesture-sensor technology and an interactive touch-screen that can be projected across an entire wall, and is currently being used to create a virtual reality experience that enables caregivers to get a feel for what life looks and feels like to someone with dementia.

With The Forest Project, McCabe and her colleagues will take the virtual reality concept a step farther, by designing a special simulation for people with dementia. As its name suggests, this new initiative will focus on creating a computer-generated forest environment that cognitively impaired individuals can interact with and control. A clap of the hands makes leaves fall off the trees. A wave of the hand makes the wind blow, changes night to day and summertime to winter.

“These interactions give a sense of control. Particularly in the later stages of dementia, it’s very difficult for people living with dementia to have a sense of control over their environment,” says Dr. Tanya Petrovich, business development manager, Alzheimer’s Australia Victoria.

And forests are just the beginning, eventually the team wants to expand their repertoire of environments to include beaches and holiday-themed scenes.

Bringing fantasy to real-life

The Forest Project is not yet a reality; its creators have turned to the crowd funding site Pozible to help raise the $82,000 necessary to construct the game.

If the goal is reached, the project will be one of the first to use video game technology to help enrich the lives of men and women living with dementia. Developers say that, as soon as 2015, a widespread release of some version of the program into senior living facilities and private homes could happen.

“Imagine if we could make this technology available for smart TV in aged care and private homes across the globe, for everybody to enjoy,” says McCabe.

Help The Forest Project meet its goal by donating here.

Video Game Empowers People Living With Dementia“originally appeared on AgingCare.com.

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Read more: Alzheimer's, Caregiving, Health, News & Issues, Videos, , , , ,

By Anne-Marie Botek, AgingCare.com Editor

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AgingCare.com

AgingCare.com connects family caregivers and provides support, resources, expert advice and senior housing options for people caring for their elderly parents. AgingCare.com is a trusted resource that visitors rely on every day to find inspiration, make informed decisions, and ease the stress of caregiving.

89 comments

+ add your own
7:07AM PDT on Mar 28, 2014

Thank you AgingCare.com, for Sharing this!

5:43AM PDT on Mar 28, 2014

Thanks

6:37AM PDT on Mar 26, 2014

Ta

6:37AM PDT on Mar 26, 2014

Ta

11:39PM PDT on Mar 24, 2014

awesome

4:48PM PDT on Mar 24, 2014

oh and I'd love to see a short walk outdoors available for the care -givers and -receivers

5:01PM PDT on Mar 23, 2014

What FUN! Our senior center has video bowling weekly...they really love it! I'm surprised at how good at it they have gotten!

5:33AM PDT on Mar 23, 2014

Great

4:36AM PDT on Mar 23, 2014

Great idea.

4:12AM PDT on Mar 23, 2014

ty

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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