Aging parent supporters and caregivers know how gratifying it is to sit with an elderly parent looking through old photograph albums. While we all love to do this, uncomfortable moments can arise when parents with dementia experience anxiety when they cannot remember an event.
Now comes interesting dementia research reported in the March 25, 2010 PHYSORG.com news service about the technology research with elderly adults with dementia who use touch screens, using this simple interactive technology to look at pictures, thereby stimulating memories. From the generic to the more specific. Researchers were based at research at the University of St. Andrews and the University of Dundee in Scotland. The project has led to the development of the Computer Interactive Reminiscence and Conversation Aid (CIRCA) and Living in the Moment computer system, both used to help people with dementia identify and retrieve memories. Check out the article, which also includes a YouTube video.
Note the simplicity and elegance of these activities. Any of them can be replicated, albeit without the rich graphics developed in the research, using touch screen (here is a new Toshiba model but there are many windows-based models), especially if an aging child has a tablet laptop with a touch screen. Moreover, with the debut of the Apple iPad — available next month (April) — two or three individuals will be able to sit comfortably on a couch look at images using a touch screen. The iPad is designed for use away from a desk or office equipment.
Refreshingly for elderly individuals, touch screen technology involves two steps — look and touch — meaning that there is not a lot of extraneous and circuitous computer activity for a person to organize and sequence. Instead the computer requirements are transparent, enabling a person to concentrate totally on touching the pictures with the potential of triggering old and cherished memories