I taught my grandmother how to use a computer when she was well into her 80’s. She saw that my parents and brother had computers at home, and I had one at college…so she wanted to get in on all the fun. I taught her to use AOL, how to play various games (Spider Solitaire was her favorite), and generally how to be self-sufficient and keep herself “sharp” through her games.
Not everyone has a granddaughter with nothing to do for a summer but write a thesis-size set of instructions on how to use a computer (It was Windows ME, so it was like this; Step 1: press power button. Step 2: wait. Step 3: click desired icon. Step 4: wait some more…).
There is a better way to help someone developing Alzheimers and dementia though…Dakim Brain Fitness.
Dakim is a company founded by a man who saw his father slowly deteriorate from Alzheimer’s, saw that stimulating his father’s mind gave him moments of clarity, and he did something to help. Dan Michel constructed various contraptions to keep his father stimulated, and out of the various homegrown experiments rose a digital solution. I had the opportunity to speak with Stevan Sedic on behalf of Dakim, and he gave me some detailed background on the system.
Dan wanted to create a system that was easy for seniors to understand. Traditional computers can be hard to master, with unpredictable system errors and an unforgiving user interface that is not adapted to someone who did not grow up in a digital world, let alone someone who may be struggling with day to day memory issues. The Dakim system is designed to adapt to the user’s level of abilities, with a personalized experience for each person. To best execute that in a senior living facility, where there may be multiple units, the Dakim system can have one unit as a designated “master” that all the other units link to. This allows a user to interact with any linked unit and have their user profile and settings be seamlessly available to them (and their caregiver) without any issues.
In the course of the conversation with Stevan, two anecdotes really struck me; in one, he was telling me how an Alzheimer’s patient who had not spoken for some time was using the Dakim system, playing a music game. She turned to her caregiver at the end of the game and said something along the lines of “I wish I had learned to play the piano.” Her caregiver was obviously shocked, and it is a testament to the Dakim system that such a level of cognition was achieved.
The other was about the founder, Dan Michel. He worked tirelessly to build items to help his father, and out of that hard work came Dakim. Stevan told me that Dan likes to say that Dakim was his father’s final gift to him. Dan worked hard for his father, including gutting a speak and spell and reconfiguring it to keep his father thinking and learning. While his father did not live long enough to try a true Dakim Brain Fitness game, he benefited from many of Dan’s prototypes, and was the inspiration for a system designed to help so many people suffering from dementia and Alzheimers.
Dakim was originally designed to be used in managed care environments like nursing homes, but due to the high demand, it is also available for home use. They are sending me a unit to review in more detail, so please share any questions you might have, and I will do my best to address them in the review. If you’d like a sample of how the Dakim games work, check out their website.
Check back here in a few weeks for a review of the Dakim Brain System!