Seeing Through The Eyes Of A Person With Dementia

Seeing Through The Eyes Of A Person With Dementia
Above picture: Carers trying out EDIE at the Alzheimer's Australia launch event in Melbourne. Photo: Arsineh Houspian.

A new virtual reality app that puts users in the position of a person living with dementia has been released for Google's Cardboard VR platform. Called EDIE (pronounced Eddy put standing for Educational Dementia Immersive Experience), the app was launched on Thursday by Alzheimer's Australia Vic, and is available free on Android andiPhone.
Petrovich says that many people think of Alzheimer's as only affecting the memory, but that it actually has a much broader range of symptoms. With EDIE, the user will get an approximation of the changes in sensory perception that may be experienced by a person living with dementia. "Perception is a really big issue", Petrovich says. "For you and me a pattern is easy to distinguish, but for a person living with dementia a pattern can appear to be moving, or it could even appear to be an animal. It could appear to be cockroaches or ants".
It might even appear that a larger animal or person is in the room, when in reality it's just a pattern on the wall, Petrovich said. She added that while this is known to happen to some people living with dementia, every person is different and symptoms vary. In addition to memory, dementia can affect mood, language, problem solving and the ability to plan, although a virtual reality platform presents an ideal way to explain its effect on perception.
Petrovich says the free app is an example of the kind of tool Alzheimer's Australia uses when training carers. Later this year, a workshop called Enabling Edie will use the app as a training tool. Carers will experience the same scene featured in the public version but with a second scene that shows how, after his carer makes a few changes, the environment could become more supportive for Edie.
EDIE can be used with any VR viewer compatible with Cardboard. A number of low-cost viewers can be purchased through Google, and Alzheimer's Australia Vic is selling its own EDIE branded viewer for $15. September is Dementia Awareness Month. Help and more information can be found at or by calling the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500. Home carers and health professionals interested in signing up for the EDIE workshop can do so at

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