Presented by Alzheimer’s Research UK
A Walk Through Dementia is a unique Google Cardboard app designed to put you in the shoes of someone living with dementia. Watch how it came together.
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Presented in virtual reality, you’ll look at everyday life through a new lens. You may be familiar with some of the symptoms you’ll experience, others may surprise you.
This app was developed by Alzheimer’s Research UK, guided by people living with different forms of dementia. They were all keen to help you understand what everyday life can be like for them.
Dementia is a misunderstood condition. Many people believe it’s just a by-product of ageing. We tend to not think beyond memory loss when it comes to symptoms.
The reality is that dementia is a condition caused by diseases, most commonly Alzheimer’s, that damage different areas of the brain leading to a variety of challenging symptoms.
Because dementia is so complex, and each person’s experience of it is unique, we can’t tell every story, but we hope the one we tell through A Walk Through Dementia will help you think a little differently about dementia.
A Walk Through Dementia features three everyday situations. In each, we demonstrate symptoms that pose challenges to people with dementia.
At the supermarket
The supermarket is exclusive to the app
Popping to the shops is no easy task. It requires planning, decision making, concentration, spatial navigation and calculation. All of these get harder when you have dementia.
- Did you struggle to read your shopping list? Damage to the back of the brain which controls how we process our visual world means that people with some visual forms of Alzheimer’s can also have real trouble reading words and following lines of text.
- Short term memory loss is common to many dementias. It can be particularly frustrating, but lists can help make life a little easier.
- Changes in food preferences and eating habits can happen in any dementia, but people with frontotemporal dementia can particularly crave sweet foods.
- We all feel the frustration when a supermarket changes its layout. Spatial memory and navigation problems mean that people with dementia can experience that feeling every time they go shopping.
- Anxiety is common early in dementia and social situations can be intimidating. How did you feel at the checkout when you struggled to find the right change?
On the road
Busy streets and noisy crowds can be overwhelming for someone with dementia, full of unfamiliar places and people.
- Getting lost is common. Sometimes people don’t recognise where they are or how they got there, other times people struggle to find the right route.
- Failing to recognise people you know can be an embarrassing and heartbreaking experience for someone with dementia. Sadly, this happens more often as diseases like Alzheimer’s progress.
- Was it a puddle or a hole? The brain can play tricks on us all sometimes, but these misperceptions are more common for someone with dementia. Shiny floors can look wet, puddles can be mistaken for holes.
- Judging speeds and distances is a complex task for our brains. When this goes wrong, people have difficulty climbing stairs, crossing roads or driving.
Home is more familiar and comforting. Many people with dementia spend more time at home, where they feel safer. But even your own home can present challenges.
- Remembering lists of instructions can be hard – people with dementia often write these down or keep a note of the steps they need to follow.
- If someone has a form of dementia that affects their vision, they may struggle to see things that are directly in front of them, so-called ‘blind spots’. Did you notice the box of teabags was there one minute and gone the next?
- Hand-eye coordination is controlled by an area at the top of the brain called the parietal lobe, which can be damaged by diseases like Alzheimer’s. This caused you to pour boiling water on the kitchen surface by accident.
- Our frontal lobes help us to start and stop multi-stepped tasks, doing them in the right order and the right number of times. There are around 30 different steps to making a cup of tea and a breakdown in this ordering caused you to forget the milk and add too much sugar.
How would it feel to face these challenges every day?
A Walk Through Dementia is available on Android and iOS devices. Download the app for free from your app store.
ORDER YOUR CARDBOARD HEADSET
To celebrate the launch of A Walk Through Dementia, we’ve created a unique cardboard headset. Get yours here.SHOP NOW
DON'T HAVE CARDBOARD?
Don’t worry, you can still experience A Walk Through Dementia through 360 video. Open in YouTube app on mobiles and tablets. Take a look below.
Click the clip title and open with your YouTube app for full 360 experience on mobiles and tablets.
For healthcare professionals
Building on A Walk Through Dementia, we have created The Lived Experience of Dementia; a training resource designed to put healthcare professionals in the shoes of the people they care for.
Visit our website for more information, or to order your training pack containing workbook and VR headset.
More information & support us
A Walk Through Dementia is presented by Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity. For more information about dementia and the amazing research we do to defeat it, visit our site. Everything we do is only made possible through the support of generous donors and fundraisers. To play your part in defeating dementia, donate to Alzheimer’s Research UK today.
A Walk Through Dementia was imagined, developed and made possible by Alzheimer’s Research UK and our friends at Visyon. Special thanks go to all in the communications team at the charity, the technology experts at Visyon as well as Anna Berger, Usama Inam, Andreas Roos, Richard Hale and Jose Llorens. We owe a debt to Prof Sebastian Crutch and his colleagues at UCL’s Institute of Neurology and to the wonderful people affected by dementia who helped shape this project throughout by sharing their experiences and through honest feedback. Thanks also to Lindsay West @ GarthWest, the Across The Pond team, Dan Gould @ Dan Gould Design and Dave Jones @ Platform Twenty. And for our launch we are grateful to Georgia Waller and Miranda Haire @ Blue Rubicon, the team at Fisher Productions and everyone at St Pancras International.