Context & problem statement
People with Dementia struggle to remember who, what, when, and where. It is possible to reorient early stage dementia sufferers in a state of delirium. Symptoms include forgetfulness, limited social skills, and thinking abilities so impaired that it interferes with daily functioning. The challenge was to develop a system to assist Dementia patients in recalling their memories.
We designed a mobile app that would provide the user, the ability to jog the memory of the dementia patient in hopes of them coming out of the dementia episode.
Duration - One and half months
Team members - Swapnil Kosarabe, Eric Smith, Rachana Solanki
My role - User Research, Interaction Design, Prototyping, and Evaluation
"Require a quick and emergency assistance for Dementia patients to recall their memories and stimulate their mental activity during early stages"
User study and research
As a part of the research work, we visited assisted living center in Brownsburg to observe the behavior of dementia patients and gather information about their interactions with their family members, friends and most importantly technology (devices like mobile, laptop, etc). We conducted contextual interviews with three elderly people in assisted living and discussed their weakness, strength, their likes, dislikes and one thing they need assistance in.
Above studies assisted us to identify user needs and provide a viable solution to following questions
Do old people get involved in any kind of social activities?
How do old people make use of technology like mobile, Ipads in their daily activities?
Which tools do old people use to interact with their families and friends?
What methods or applications does assisted living center use for reorienting dementia patients memories?
How do old people remember the upcoming events, birthdays and appointments?
Interviews and observations at Assisted Living. This visit provided us an opportunity to observe their lifestyle closely.
We visited an event where we interviewed older adults about their likes and preference towards technology.
People preferred to be socially active and got involved in almost all games and workshops scheduled for the day.
Old people in the center had several devices like mobile, Ipad, television, etc. to stimulate their mental activity but one thing that restrained them from operating was the complex interfaces and lack of instructions or tutorial to run them.
Dementia patients needed some assistance to recall their memories during early stages of Dementia. In such an emergency, volunteer or family member showed them relevant images or videos to jog them out of the Dementia attack. We decided to simplify the process by designing a Timeline.
After carefully going through articles, we deduced three main aspects contributing towards prevention of Dementia
1. Being socially active and mentally stimulated
2. Involving in volunteering activities and interacting with friends, families, etc.
3. Learning new languages or playing cognitive games
Understanding User needs
After interviews and observations, we drafted user persona's to understand the specific user group and their expectations from the product. User personas consisted of two user group one who suffers from the attack and second the volunteers or the close member of the sufferer.
Brainstorming and Ideation
Brainstorming process revealed several ideas based on the concept of engaging socially and stimulating mental activity. After careful observation, we decided to create a mobile app which would consist of following features:
Timeline based on Reminiscence therapy
Calendar as a reminder and
Message to engage socially.
I sketched wireframes to visualize the user flow and satisfy the user requirements identified during interviews.
I used Balsamiq to create the operational prototype for user testing and evaluations.
Evaluations and User Testing
We performed assessments with seven candidates consisting of the different user group.
1. Users found issues with the lengthy process for accessing media files
2. Users were confused with the calendar format and demanded a standard and simplified version
3. Users expected instruction manual for assistance regarding using application
High Fidelity prototype
Message feature provides a platform for old people to engage socially. Notifications above messages catch users attention and prompt them to look at it. 'Wish a birthday' prompt users to initiate conversation and remember close one's birthday. Long press on the profile icon of contacts displays their relationship with the user which helps old people to recall their memory.
Timeline interface is based on the theory of Reminiscence therapy which assists old people to walk down their memory lane. Patient's families can use this feature to reorient their memory during a dementia attack. Memories are categorized into different life experiences, and related images and videos are uploaded into it with dates and location of each image. Initial user testing revealed that old people enjoyed spending time with the memory lane feature which stimulated their mental activity.
Media interface provides patients with random images, videos and audio recordings associated with them, that can be uploaded by patients families and friends remotely.