SUTD researchers develop game app to help elderly stave off dementia

29 Sep 2023

Lianhe Zaobao, 29 Sep 2023, 新科大研究员开发游戏应用 助年长者延缓失智症
Researchers from the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) have developed a bilingual game app that helps elderly stave off the onset of dementia.
Called Ami (Advancing Mental Invigoration), the app is a simple and interactive touch-screen game suitable for the elderly. It currently offers three games and supports six different languages ​​​​including dialects, which are Chinese, English, and Malay, Tamil, Hokkien and Cantonese.
The app can be used in monolingual and bilingual modes. Using it in bilingual mode has a positive impact on the cognitive abilities of the elderly. The game also features an avatar that provides guidance, tips and assistance throughout the game, and seniors can request help from the avatar.
The prototype of the game app was launched by Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies Mr Heng Swee Keat on Friday (September 29) at the Lions Befrienders Active Ageing Center on Mei Ling Street.
Ami was conceived by Associate Professor Yow Wei Quin, Acting Head of the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences cluster at SUTD, and her team.
Associate Prof Yow said that the team spent two years studying 105 elderly people aged between 53 and 97, some of whom were patients with dementia.
Research: Playing the games in bilingual mode significantly improves cognitive ability and language memory
Studies have shown that older adults who play games in bilingual mode over a period of two to three months showed significantly improved cognitive abilities and verbal memory compared to those who play the games in monolingual mode or do not play games at all. In addition, the research team tested seniors with dementia again six months after trying the game and found that their oral learning skills and verbal memory had improved.
More than 85% of seniors find game apps fun and easy to use after playing them, and think it is a good way to exercise their brains.
72-year-old Ms Betty Tan Siew Hua said: “I found the game to be interesting as the gameplay tests how fast my brain works and how quickly my fingers move, testing my flexibility and alertness.”
The research team will work with Lions Befrienders to install the game application on 1,000 tablets by December. The team also plans to use the latest artificial intelligence technologies to expand the game's features.