A ‘revolutionary’ smartphone app could transform the lives of dementia patients at just the click of a button by telling them how to change their homes.
Iridis gives sufferers feedback within 20 minutes on how to slash their risk of injuries and confusion in the comfort of their own home.
Hailed as ‘exciting’, it highlights possible dangers, such as wall colour clashing with that of grab rails in the bathroom or the need of better lighting.
Simple suggestions such as changing the colour of the toilet bowl to help patients find the loo easier are also offered – reducing the risk of an accident.
Recommendations to extend their curtain rods to allow more light into rooms and reducing reflective glares can also be made to boost their quality of life.
Developed by Scottish scientists, the app simply asks patients to take a picture of their surroundings and provides feedback.
It highlights possible dangers, such as wall colour clashing with that of grab rails in the bathroom or the need of better lighting. Suggestions such as changing the colour of the toilet bowl to help patients find the loo easier are also offered – reducing the risk of an accident
Not only does it provide guidance for a patient’s living room, bathroom and kitchen, but it can assess a care home for the same dangers.
The revolutionary app was created by the University of Stirling’s Dementia Service Development Centre (DSDC) and Space Architects.
Lesley Palmer, chief architect at DSDC, said: ‘Iridis revolutionises how we improve the day-to-day lives of older people and those living with dementia around the world.
‘At the touch of a button, people with dementia, their families and health professionals will be able to assess how dementia-friendly their built environment is and how it can be improved.’
Iridis: How it works
The app, deemed to be the first of its kind, was launched on World Alzheimer’s Day. An assessment of a two-bedroom home would take 20 minutes.
It offers recommendations to change the layout and design of rooms based on past research which has shown such changes to improve the quality of life of patients.
Ensuring a contrast between the toilet seat, bowl and bathroom floor may be useful as past research has 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 same research also revealed.
It may also recommend making reading lights brighter than most people would require (stock)
Suggestions are as simple as extending curtain rods to get more light into bedrooms (stock)
POSSIBLE TIPS FROM THE APP
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.
Information collected from users of the app will allow the designers to continually update and improve the technology.
Two versions exist on the marketplace; one is free and the other is aimed at architects designing elderly-friendly buildings which costs £14.99 each month.
What do the experts say?
Stephen Brooks, director of Space Architects, said: ‘I think this is an excellent tool for us, particularly because it gives us that solid base of information that is quantifiable.
‘Through the introduction of our new Iridis App, people can independently assess a building and take, often simply steps, to make them dementia-friendly.
‘By providing the right living environment we can help people to stay safe, physically active and maintain mental stimulation for longer.’
Dementia: The facts
Officials estimate there to be around 47 million dementia sufferers across the world, with nearly 10 million new cases reported each year.
In the US, the devastating disease, which is currently incurable, affects more than five million, while 850,000 suffer in the UK.
Richard Baker, policy and communications manager at Age Scotland, said: ‘The living environment affects older people in a great number of ways, particularly those living with dementia.
‘Therefore, ensuring older people are living in an environment which meets their needs is very important for their quality of life and independence.’
Having no contrast between the bathroom walls and floors may be recommended to reduce the risk of a trip or fall, the app recommends (stock)
Other suggestions may include reducing reflective glares and noise (stock)