Learning to colour the world of dementia

NEW YORK: Simple suggestions such as making your toilet bowl a different colour or even just using brighter lights could improve the quality of life of a dementia sufferer.

Ensuring a colour contrast between the toilet seat, bowl and bathroom floor makes it easier for dementia sufferers to find the loo, reducing their risk of incontinence.

Yet, minimising colour differences between the kitchen and hall floors could lower the risk of tripping or falling.

Dementia patients may also benefit from having their curtain rods extended to allow more light into their rooms.

Reducing reflective glares and noise may also be beneficial.

A new, free app may make the above recommendations in just 20 minutes after it digitally assesses how dementia-friendly a home is.

The app asks users questions and has them take photographs of rooms in their home.

Suggestions may be as simple as extending curtain rods to get more light into bedrooms.

It may also recommend making reading lights brighter than most people would require.

Ensuring a contrast between the toilet seat, bowl and bathroom floor may be suggested to reduce the risk of incontinence.

Yet, having no contrast between the kitchen and hall floors may be recommended to reduce the risk of a trip or fall.

Other suggestions may include reducing reflective glares and noise.

Relatives or homeowners using the app, called IRIDIS, are asked questions about their surroundings, as well as being instructed to take photographs.

The app then makes recommendations based on the information.

Ensuring a contrast between the toilet seat, bowl and bathroom floor may be useful as past research demonstrated this reduces incontinence.

Being able to find the toilet quickly and position yourself on the seat easily minimises the risk of an accident, the past research revealed.

A professional version of the app will also be available for architects to ensure buildings are elderly-friendly.

The app was developed by the Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC) at the University of Stirling in collaboration with the construction company Space Group.

Lesley Palmer, chief architect at DSDC, said: ‘Our design recommendations are supportive of general age-related impairments, including visual, hearing and physical.

Brain scans reveal for the first time that eating plenty of salmon, mackerel and sardines prevents Alzheimer’s disease by boosting blood flow, a study shows.

Omega-3 fatty acids, found in oily fish, increase blood in brain regions that control memory and learning – both of which are destroyed by the neurological disorder, researchers found.

People who eat a lot of oily fish are also better at acquiring and understanding new information, the study adds.

A high-fish diet also boosts our overall mental and emotional health.

Lead study author Professor Daniel Amen, of Amen Clinics in Costa Mesa, California, said: ‘This is very important research because it shows a correlation between lower omega-3 fatty acid levels and reduced brain blood flow to regions important for learning, memory, depression and dementia.’

‘They are supportive of aged populations not just those with dementia.

‘This is a unique opportunity to revolutionise how we improve day-to-day life for older people and people living with dementia around the world.

‘We are creating a simple way for anyone to assess how dementia-friendly their environment is and find out how to improve their surroundings.

‘With around 50 million people estimated to be living with dementia worldwide, there is an immediate need to invest in our aging population and provide improved services and facilities.

Ms Palmer said: ‘This industry-leading, intelligent suite of software offers new methods of assessing our built environment.

‘All of the guidance within the IRIDIS app will be underpinned by the research the University has carried out in this area.

‘Typically, people living with dementia have greater demands on the healthcare services and providing guidance on how to adapt living conditions allows people to stay independent for longer and future proofs housing for autonomous living.’

Richard Patel, knowledge officer at Alzheimer’s Society told MailOnline: ‘Two thirds of people with dementia live in the community and we know, from our research, that the majority wish to remain in their own home for as long as they are able.

‘Technology that can support people with dementia and their families to make small adaptations to the home so that it is safer and easier to navigate has the potential to transform people’s experience on a day-to-day level – and enable them to remain independent for longer.

‘These sorts of advances in assistive technology are exciting and could change the way we think of the kind of support that is available.’

The app will be available to download from September 21 – International Alzheimer’s Day.

Full story covered in the Dementia Business Weekly.