Ominous shadows, amplified sounds and moving patterns on the walls and floor: these are things that dementia patients can experience.
People without the condition can now learn about the problems affecting dementia by using a virtual reality (VR) application.
The Educational Dementia Immersive Experience, or EDIE, is first used in Asia as part of a three-hour seminar held by the Alzheimer's Disease Association (ADA) to help healthcare professionals and the public understand dementia.
Pilot seminar participants wore headphones and earphones which allowed them to see and hear from the point of view of a dementia patient in his early years that he had been treated by his wife.
They went through the scenarios to find their way to the bathroom early in the morning, before and after improvements for dementia patients were made at home.
About 82,000 people aged 60 or over have dementia, according to the Well-being of the Singapore seniors study conducted by the Institute of Mental Health in 2015.
"Many people think that dementia is just memory loss and forgetfulness (but) there are other symptoms, such as loss of sensory and visual perception, resulting in difficulty in identifying objects in familiar environments," he said. ; managing director of the ADA Jason Foo.
"We hope that this virtual reality platform will present a more effective way to help someone see through the eyes of a person with dementia, reduce stigma, design and create care environments that allow and better support the well-being of people with dementia."
The application, also available in Australia and Canada, was developed by Dementia Australia in 2016. It was the first to use gaming technology to create the virtual world of a person with dementia.
Participant Tony Kee, 50, said the lab helped him empathize with his 83-year-old mother-in-law, who has moderate dementia.
"The seminar helped me see the world of people with dementia and understand and empathize with them," the insurance agent said.
"It's not that they want to make life difficult for you – they would do it themselves if they could – but sometimes, we as caregivers don't know and we think they're trying to create havoc."
ADA hopes that the app will attract more than 1,000 users, including staff from hospitals, aged care facilities and the social services sector, as well as educators and architects.
It also plans to develop localized scenarios within three years.
More information on the workshop, which costs $ 120 per session, will be available on the ADA website starting next month.