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From synced shopping lists to booking an Uber, there’s no doubt that technology has changed our lives immeasurably – and made us more productive and efficient.

It’s also helping dementia patients in ways we could never have hoped for 20 or 30 years ago.

Touchscreens and specialised apps that are simple to use and help memory and interaction are also becoming indispensable for many people living with the condition, says dementia and aged care expert Tamar Krebs from Group Homes Australia.

“If a person with dementia understands and remembers how to use the technology, then smartphones and iPads are wonderful! They can be used to remind someone about their daily routine – ie, when to take medication, what to have for lunch, keeping a schedule of who is coming to visit,” she explains. “However, technology can be very challenging if the person’s dementia is severe.”

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The staff at Krebs’ group homes use a variety of apps to engage their residents, depending on their personal interests. “We have a lady who was a mathematician, so she loves solitaire and sudoku,” she explains. “Another resident who was a teacher enjoys letter and numeric games – which can be great for engagement.”

There are so many apps to choose from, so do your research and choose those that are simple and as easy to use as possible, so it just becomes all about enjoying the app and engaging. Below, we take six recommended apps for a test drive.

It’s Done! $2.99 (iPhone + iPad)
If a person is having trouble remembering to turn the heater off or grab their keys before leaving the house, this app is extremely useful. You can make a list of things that can be ‘ticked off’ daily or lists for tomorrow or next week and as you tick them off the app makes a very satisfying ‘clunk’ sound. One downside: bigger text would make this app even better.
View it in the app store here.

MindMate, Free (iPhone + iPad)
This brilliant app has it all – a ‘My Life’ section for personal information, which could be accessed by hospital or home care staff if necessary, a ‘My Story’ section where you can create galleries of photos of loved ones, and a heap of fun games where you can train your attention, your memory and your speed and get points the more games you play. There are also health tips, workouts to follow and videos to watch on the app too.
View it in the app store here.

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AmuseIt ($14.99 for iPad, Microsoft, Android)
Easy to navigate and use, this quiz app is designed to get the conversation going with carers and dementia sufferers. The interface is simple, with beautiful images and big buttons accompanying a range of multiple choice questions. Choose from categories such as lifestyle, baking, general knowledge, animals, sport, horticulture or arts / entertainment. It’s a little pricier than some of the other apps, but well worth considering.
View it in the app store here.

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Flower Garden ($2.99 for iPad, iPhone + Android)
A cute app enabling you to grow flowers in pots, water them, send bouquets to people on your contact list via email or SMS. Just be aware that if the app is linked to a credit card on the AppStore the person can also go crazy buying ‘seeds’ via the shop to grow more plants!
View it in the app store here.

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BrainyApp (Free for iPad, iPhone + Android)
This app, developed by Alzheimer’s Australia in partnership with BUPA Health, gives you a brain health survey and a report on where you can improve in terms of diet, activity, socializing. You can play Brain Tennis where you unscramble words (choose level from Easy to Evil!), upload photos and captions to the BrainyApp community, or do a quick quiz.
View it in the app store here.

Let’s Create! Pottery (Free, for iPad, iPhone + Android)
A fantastic app for anyone with dementia who loves craft or used to be a keen potter. The pottery wheel starts with a lump of clay and spins around; you ‘shape’ your bowl or vase by moving your finger around it. Super easy and just one click to ‘fire’ your creation in the kiln (complete with sound effects). You then get a beautiful image of your completed ceramic. Therapeutic, relaxing and, dare we say, highly addictive!
View it in the app store here.

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Have your found some great apps for your smartphone or tablet? Share them below.

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(Feature image: ymgerman /