When caring for a person with dementia, it's important to be mindful of their physical and mental health, but other challenges exist that are often less considered, such as creating a living space that accommodates their needs. If you have no idea where to begin, don’t worry - there’s soon going to be an app to assist you.

The app, developed by the University of Stirling’s Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC), works by digitally evaluating how suitable a home, care facility, or any other space is for the elderly and those living with dementia.

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"This is a unique opportunity to revolutionise how we improve day-to-day life for older people and people living with dementia around the world,” Lesley Palmer, chief architect at DSDC, said in a statement. “We are creating a simple way for anyone to assess how dementia-friendly their environment is, and find out how to improve their surroundings.”

The free app requires users to answer questions about their surroundings and take photos of it. In about 20 minutes, the user will receive an assessment that recommends improvements regarding lighting, color schemes, and noise, all of which can impair the life of a person living with dementia. The database responsible for the assessment is called IRIDIS, short for Intelligence Research Interactive Design Interface System.

"We acknowledge that there are variations of 'apps' for guidance on dementia design principles and auditing the built environment, but none which have such a level of detail and have a direct and real-time results link to the construction and product industry,” said Steph Brooks, Director at Space Architects, who is collaborating with DSDC.

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The app will suggest specific changes such as changing a lightbulb or rearranging furniture. The first version is free and expected to be available for download on World Alzheimer’s Day in September 2017. In later versions of the app, the developers plan on creating a paid-for feature that offers more sophisticated services aimed at designers and healthcare professionals.

“What we are offering is truly ground-breaking and the software within the IRIDIS app will be one of the greatest advances to date in dementia care design principles,” Brooks said.

Dementia is not a specific disorder, but rather a general term for a group of brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s disease. The debilitating illnesses affect memory, thinking, behavior, and the ability to perform everyday tasks. About 47 million people worldwide are currently living with dementia, and this number is expected to increase to 75 million by 2030 and almost triple by the year 2050, according to the World Health Organization.

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