Saturday, July 16, 2016

Can technology transform living with dementia?

My project for the past few days has been to see whether technology can help my mother with her dementia.  My mother has always been very artistic, often painting flowers, though in recent years she has not created any art at all.  However I noticed when I arrived this summer that she does attend an art therapy class where she uses adult colouring books, and one of these was the Kew Gardens Flowering Plants Colouring Book containing outline drawings of plants.  This is a gorgeous colouring book which showcases illustrations by accomplished British botanical artists, and Mum has been able to make lovely pictures using this book.

Mum has never used a computer or iPad.  She has a mobile phone but has never been able to use it either and mostly doesn't remember to charge it.  Despite this, I was keen to see whether using the touchscreen on my iPad would be possible for her.  I was hoping that an iPad would be more intuitive than using a computer and that I could find some apps that would allow her to create art easily.  I was also looking for apps that would help her memory and interaction.

Today I explored the app Prisma.  I thought that this would be an app that would appeal to my daughter too, who has just got a degree in art history, because many of the filters are those of famous artists.  We tried this out with selfies, photos of Mum's grandchildren and photos of flowers.  Mum liked working on the flower photos best.   Here is the picture that she liked working on the the most, using a mosaic filter:

Another app we tried today was Kaleidoscope which allows you to make geometric patterns on the screen.  I know Mum had a kaleidoscope as a child because my grandmother still had it in her house when I was young and I used to love playing with this. This was quite entertaining for a while but I'm not sure that Mum would want to explore this much more.

I have a whole list of other iPad apps that I want to try out with Mum, including the Bloom HD app that I used with our First Grade students earlier this year.  If these manage to be successful and entertaining for Mum, we can get her an iPad for her birthday next month.

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