How a Fun Game is Transforming Attitudes towards Dementia
Professor Christine Brown Wilson looks at a novel new way developed at Queen's of transforming people's attitudes to, and knowledge of, dementia.
Dementia affects more than 500 million people globally. with more than half of the UK adult population knowing someone with dementia. Dementia is an umbrella term for conditions that adversely impact peoples’ ability to recall and process information affecting many daily activities like: getting dressed, cooking, driving, shopping, telling the time. This means that a person living with dementia may need greater levels of support in everyday activities from family, friends, children or people in the wider community.
One in three people born in the UK will develop dementia in their lifetime so we need to find a fun and engaging way to reduce the stigma of dementia and engage families, friends and people working in the wider community to understand how best to support people living with dementia. As a result, our Queen’s University-led team have developed two fun games about dementia – one for adults and one for children.
Working with a group of people living with dementia from Dementia NI, we co-designed a Dementia game for the general public and asked people to complete an attitudes to dementia questionnaire before and after playing the game. Over 1000 people played the game with nearly 500 completing both questionnaires. We found that people who played the game had a significantly better attitude towards dementia compared to before they played the game.
Once people receive a diagnosis of dementia, it can be challenging to explain this to children so the Kids Dementia Game was co-designed with children (aged 9-10) and people living with Dementia. The children told us that although sometimes knowing about dementia made them feel sad, they wanted to be told if a family member had dementia so they could help them. The Kids dementia game is a collection of stories that children and families can work their way through together with some fun games included. Fifty children tested the game and told us they liked the storytelling approach, learnt a lot about dementia and found the game easy to use.
People can live well with dementia and in our work, people living with dementia want to be recognised as having capability not disability. The Dementia Game and Kids Dementia Game helps adults and children see dementia in a more positive light with the potential it will support people to live well with dementia.
We think the Dementia Game and the Kids Dementia Game will help family, friends and the wider community to understand how to best to support people living with dementia – why not have a go and play the games and tell us what you think!!