Dementia is emerging as one of the most common age-related diseases. The difficulty in being a caregiver of a person with dementia is that the person’s behaviors undermine all the basic, social, and interactional conduct. New technologies based on the use of ICT technologies are being considered to improve communication skills and reduce associated stress both for people with dementia and for caregivers. Serious games are among the suitable tools to assess improvements in motor-cognitive performances and to sustain training gains in people with dementia living at home or in a nursing home and their formal and informal caregivers.
We have designed an interactive mobile serious game aiming to allow caregivers to manage, a series of real world-based scenarios for dementia care and learn how to apply the problem-solving activities virtually developed to their daily routines. The game mechanics was based on the simplified needs system adopted by the SIMS games: the character is, most of the time, strolling idly, acting only when the player queues or when the character must act in solving a need that reaches critical thresholds. Our model was based on the idea of the project we were participating at to supplement the materials offered within the iDO* MOOC.
The impact of using the game was to educate caregivers with upcoming care processes, which can be represented as measurably improved confidence and job satisfaction, more effective adoption of best practices for dementia care, enhanced overall quality of care, and decreased caregiver burden. The direct impact of the proposed iDO game shows that the game aroused positive moods and attitudes for future caregivers of persons with dementia, indicating a more relaxed status and a decreased fear in accomplishing the caring process. Furtheron, the iDO game contributed to cognitive stimulation (through game playing) and promotion of social interaction which is considered a major function of future technology-supported caregiving and management of dementia.