Over the past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have become more socially isolated. Some older people and people with dementia have found technology useful in decreasing their sense of isolation. There is growing interest in how recent technological advances can create engaging, enjoyable experiences that help people connect with their identity, their history, and each other.
A recent research study at the Western Sydney University, Time Travelling with Technology used a large television screen connected to Google Street View to enable people with dementia to re-experience significant places from their life – their old school, the home where they grew up, workplaces, favourite holiday destinations and even new locations people had never been to before… but might like to go.
You can see an example of how this project worked in action via YouTube.
You don’t need a lot of sophisticated technology if you want to try this yourself. This sort of “time travel” can be done on any device that connects to the internet, whether it be a phone, tablet, laptop or computer.
You can search for specific addresses (for example visit a childhood home) but also explore broader areas, such as cities or towns. You can explore the Great Pyramids of Giza or Westminster Abbey in London! You can have an aerial view of nearly every place on Earth. It’s a fun experience that stimulates conversation.
The Western Sydney University researchers are now wanting to better understand what experiences people with dementia and carers have had with technologies and what they want technology to do for them. If you are living with dementia or supporting someone living with dementia, reside at home, and you would like to find out more about this research, please email Dr Celia Harris at [email protected]