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RJV Bertin Level 3 (950 points)
My mother has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, and given that it's World Alzheimer Day (at least here in France) and I'm researching new computing hardware, I wondered if the investment in an iPad could be justified.

I know people have worked on iPhone apps to adapt the phone to the needs of the elderly (apparently with better result than the usual "senior phones"), and I can well imagine the interface ought to be intuitive even for people with declining brain function. Typing iPad and dementia in Google gives some interesting hits, too.

Has anyone on here direct experience with use of an iPad by an elderly person with dementia? Any ideas if/how the new functionality in 4.2 might make the thing less usable (I'm thinking of folders and multitasking)?
And ... any ideas if there just might be an upcoming new version with a builtin webcam?? (BTW, are there apps that allow to view someone's webcam ... Skype apparently doesn't support this?)

15² PillowBook 1.5Ghz 2/80Gb w/o hyperdrive, Mac OS X (10.4.11), RIP
  • Carolyn Samit Level 10 (103,360 points)

    Sorry to hear that your mother has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

    There are some excellent iPad's apps for Alzheimer's patients as well as their caregivers. I have a neighbor with dementia. She enjoys using her iPad much more now then her iMac. She loves the "memory and focus" app available here. iTunes Preview - Alzheimer's apps

    I don't think functionality will be an issue with 4.2.

    As for the possibility of a webcam, the Apple Discussions TOU (click Help & Terms of Use right side of this page) forbids discussions re: "Speculations or rumors about unannounced products."

    Skype software supports webcams but only on a device with webcam functionality such as a computer.

    If the caregiver has an iPad also, there are games like scrabble so two people can play on two different iPads. The iPads would have to be connected to the same network.

    Photos say a lot on an iPad...

  • RJV Bertin Level 3 (950 points)
    Hi Carolyn

    Thanks for your answer.

    I know about the 'speculation rule' ... but expressing an opinion via private messaging ought to be possible, no?
  • RJV Bertin Level 3 (950 points)
    One crucial detail I forgot: I'm Dutch, and so is my mom. Her foreign-language mastery is intact for the time being, but it'd probably be important to have at least some Dutch-language apps if we're to follow up on this idea.
  • JennaF Level 1 (10 points)
    Hello, I have been using and researching using the iPad with the elderly with moderate to advanced dementia as part of my work. I work in aged care and know of other staff who are using the iPad with their residents with dementia and it is really becoming a desired resource in dementia care.

    I use a variety of the ipad apps and even for those with very limited ability, there is much enjoyment and many observed benefits from the iPad for them: relaxing, creative activities and using the imagination (music and art apps), distracting from anxiety or pain, something that is close to their range of vision rather than a TV that is too far away for eg.

    There are many apps for each person's interests, past activities and for new interests etc. Our website and free newsletter will be highlighting more on the iPad: and I can email you anything if you wish, such as our last 2 newsletters which have iPad articles in them.

    Apps I currently use for those with dementia include:

    Pocket window
    Celtic harp
    sky doodle
    Pocket Pond (with upgrade)
    Just Chimes
    Healing Voice lite
    Japanese Gardens lite
    Tongue Free (split drum) photo albums and iPod are also used. I have skype on the iPad which is voice only, not camera yet.
  • Lisa Kynvi Level 1 (0 points)
    Thank you, JennaF, this is very very helpful and useful information for me.
    I, too, have been exploring what apps might be helpful in my professional work with
    people who have advanced dementia, and I found your sharing of your list incredibly generous
    and helpful. Thank you so much!
  • JennaF Level 1 (10 points)
    Hi, new to add regarding the iPad uses - I've got a webpage now that's dedicated to iPad research with people with dementia and also adults with a disability:

    and if you go to our newsletter webpage there is a free newsletter which has articles on using the iPad with specific clients, to get more of an idea of the benefits and ways you can use the iPad:

    the copies are on the page so you can look at them.
  • southrnflower Level 1 (0 points)

    I am very interested in Jenna's work with iPads and people with Alzheimer's/dementia. The links she provides are no longer active and the last one posted in January, 2011. I would like to start up the discussion again, locate more resources and especially hear about experienes others might have. I would ulimately like to write a grant or otherwise convince administators at the nursing home where my Mom lives to purchase an iPad. Supporting documentation of success would be very helpful. Thanks for your help!

  • ds store Level 7 (30,325 points)

    I know this is going to sound like blasphemy on a Apple site, but there is a computer designed especially with seniors in mind.



    It runs Linux, it has it's own software and doesn't need anti-virus or all that.

  • coastalrobin Level 1 (0 points)

    My mother is 87 with severe dementia (on most days) but she does love games.  Word search games are her favorite and she also enjoys alpha tots and alpha math.  These are not too difficult and more importantly they keep her engaged.  She also finds Koi Pond amusing.  Occasionally she will read a news article - but I do make the font size HUGE - go to settings to change it.

  • McCashew Level 1 (0 points)

    I recently discovered this thread and want to thank the contributors for the specific applications they provided. As a hospice social worker, I have begun to use this device with patients living with end stage Alzheimers. Is anyone aware of any research being done with this population and utilizing the iPad to engage and provide patients with support?

  • southrnflower Level 1 (0 points)

    McCashew - are there any iPad apps that you find useful for people with Alzheimer's? My mother enjoys match-game type activities with a set of cards I have. The items are all realistic pictures...not cartoony drawings obviously meant for children. I know there must be some others apps out there as well that would perhaps be the beginning of reminiscing conversations. Today my Mom, who was an avid gardener, was mesmorized by a Lowe's add that was a time-lapse of a garden blooming. I'm thinking there must be some apps with touch/response capability such as this but again, ones that aren't juvenile. I would appreciate your suggestions!

  • southrnflower Level 1 (0 points)

    As I am writing this, there are 9,140 views of this thread but very few posts. There is obviously great need and interest in this topic. Apple, you offer so much for children with disabilities and education of young people. Do you have any programs for people like me to test the iPad in the field of aging? As a caregiver, I interact with people with Alzheimer's and dementia and their families every day when I spend time with my Mom. I recently lost my job and have no way to afford an iPad but I would be thrilled to be part of a study that would perhaps provide an iPad to her nursing home as a pilot.

  • McCashew Level 1 (0 points)

    southrnflower, in hospice I work with end stage Alzheimer's and as such, I use pretty simple apps because anything too advanced becomes frustrating. The list provided above is an excellent beginning - I find that my patients respond best to three types of apps; Expression (Drawing and Doodling), Experiential (Nature, Observation, Life Skills), and Music (Listening and Creating). The music ones are very effective because the reward for touching the screen is immediate. One not listed above that my patients particularly enjoy is a guitar, they love strumming. I recently made amazing progress with a very closed off patient and an app that offers a banjo called MisoMusic. One app that is not listed that my patients love and ask to do again and again is Cake Doodle. There are several put out by one company that allow you to add ingredients from a recipe, mix the batter, bake the cake and then decorate it (also cookie doodle, candy doodle, and another that is for frozen treats). My 5 year old dtr LOVES this game and I tried it on a lark with a woman one day and the response was incredible. I feel, without any scientific proof, that there is some sort of body memory related to cooking that I might be tapping into, but that is just a guess. The app is very entertaining. Don't overlook the beauty of Pandora either. Being able to play a genre of music for a person at will is incredible valuable, especially with this population. For someone who has LT memories it can assist them greatly! Does this help.


    Also - I echo your sentiments. That is a lot of hits, there is clearly an interest and a need for information in this area.I am going to look into a way I can conduct some research, but I current work for a "for profit" organization which would make this a challenge.


    Stay tuned!


  • carl wolf Level 6 (14,625 points)

    Before you fall in love with the "WOW! Computer", you should check this out:

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