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Games may help people with dementia

A project by researchers at the Universities of St Andrews and Dundee used computer games to help dementia sufferers

Computer games offer an exciting and engaging way of helping older people with dementia keep their brain active and learn new skills according to a study conducted by researchers at the Universities of St Andrews and Dundee.

Arlene Astell, one of the researchers, will talk about the success of their project - Living in the Moment - at the 2008 Annual Conference for Psychology Specialists Working with Older People as part of The British Psychological Society, being held today at the University of York.

Poor memory and concentration make it difficult for people with dementia to function. "Living in the Moment" is a project that has drawn on the principles of gaming development and the psychology of dementia to develop helpful and fun computer games for dementia sufferers.

The presentation will include videos of the games being used by participants, who were involved at every stage of its development. The project demonstrated that people with dementia can learn new activities with appropriate prompting.

"Working together with people with dementia we have explored over 20 different games and activities in our efforts to find out what people enjoy," Astell said.

"The people with a diagnosis of dementia were very helpful in telling us what they like and dislike and were very accommodating in trying out what ever we put in front of them."

"This project may be unique in working solely with people with dementia rather than involving family or professional caregivers and it clearly demonstrates that people with a diagnosis of dementia can participate fully and make their news known.

"Based on the feedback received we are now developing a gaming package designed to support and engage people with dementia in enjoyable and stimulating activities."

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