#14 Design for dementia > Designing everyday access to sounds and music for people with dementia > Myrte Thoolen and Mischa Daams


Designing everyday access to sounds and music for people with dementia

Myrte Thoolen en Mischa Daams

Music as incentive has the ability to affect people, and especially people living with dementia, by recalling positive memories and personal narratives. Reminiscence integrating individual experiences through a music-based intervention can positively influence cognitive subjective well being and functioning, whereby haptic interactions combined with other senses can intensify these positive outcomes by encouraging active participation for people with dementia. Main objective of this study was to stimulate self-esteem and positive memories for individuals with dementia, as part of the efforts to stimulate independent living for a better quality of life.

Final design of the prototype.

Broad perspective in design for dementia

To identify a multi-sensorial interface for people with dementia, a co-design session was organized with students from Communication and Multimedia Design at Avans University of Applied Sciences and students from Art Academy St. Joost in Breda and Den Bosch. The designers were informed about the effects of dementia on people’s cognition and behavior, the beneficial impact of music and sounds, and challenges for designing for people with dementia. The students were introduced to start with exploring dementia from a self-chosen perspective and context, but still related to the effects of sound and music on dementia.

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Impression of the workshop


Five groups of five students developed lo-fi prototypes that mainly consisted of different interfaces equipped with different textures, shapes, materials, interactions and functionalities with the main objective to stimulate haptic and sensorial experiences. The prototypes provided a new perspective into potential possibilities in designing for this vulnerable target group. A limited number of design criteria were presented to the students, where interesting first ideas emerged. All explorations inspired the final design of the master thesis with the potential of multi-sensory stimulation and shaped the design process from the third iteration of the master thesis for the University of Technology in Eindhoven.

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Results of the workshop

Veldonderzoeksleiders Myrte Thoolen en Mischa Daams zijn docenten aan de bacheloropleiding Communication & Multimedia Design bij ACUE in Breda. Het doel van hun veldonderzoek was tweeledig; ten eerste wilden de twee onderzoeksleiders de bijzondere aspecten van ontwerpen voor mensen met dementie onder de aandacht brengen, maar daarnaast wilden ze onderzoeken wat er gebeurt wanneer deze problematiek door interdisciplinaire teams van studenten van de drie academies wordt aangepakt.