Use it or lose it? Why not AmuseIT?
A software tester, a dementia nurse and a developer get together at Christmas... I know what you’re thinking... this
sounds like the beginning of a joke. This story isn’t a joke, but it is about amusement – literally.
Meet Kerry and Carey, the serious brains behind an app designed to help people with dementia, their families, and people
working in aged care. Kerry Howley has a lifetime of experience as a dementia and gerontology nurse. Carey Fletcher
brings her knowledge of technology to the project. Together, they’ve developed an app called AmuseIT. We’ve all heard
the saying ‘use it or lose it’ and this app is designed to do just that in a fun way which everyone can enjoy.
Up to now, aged care workers have had to beg, borrow or re-purpose material to stimulate the minds of people with
dementia. They’ve had to rely on things like laminated calendars, children’s books, flash cards or boxes of wool.
Consequently, they’ve had a limited ability to target material to the specific interests of people with dementia. More
importantly, the material aged care workers use isn’t necessarily designed with older people in mind.
AmuseIT has been developed specifically for older people with dementia. Kerry and Carey have invested money and time to
research the key factors required to stimulate the minds of people with dementia and bundled it into one easy to use app
for a tablet. AmuseIT combines pictures and quizzes on a wide variety of subjects so there’s something of interest for
Games typically require an activity to be completed before the player can progress to the next stage which can be
frustrating for people with dementia. AmuseIT positively reinforces the desire to play by removing all obstacles to
Kerry says, “Older people often have their ability to make choices limited or taken away. They get told what to do, what
to eat, when and so forth. We believe AmuseIT will help to empower older people by giving them choice back in their
The depth of research and attention to detail that has been put into the app are what will make it a unique experience
for each user. Fonts, contrast, images, screen technology, question difficulty and ease of use have all been factored
into the development.
At every stage, there has been a focus on quality: seeking fully licensed images from original sources (e.g. the Mona
Lisa image was sourced from The Louvre), and having quizzes written or checked by authoritative sources.
During development, the idea of bringing people closer together has had a flow on effect into the global community. The
project has received extensive support from around the world and has been of benefit to charitable organisations. In
return for supplying the quiz on religion, AmuseIT gave a donation which benefited Ronald McDonald House and a hospital
in Africa which acts as a safe place for women to have babies.
A focus group of caregivers and people living with dementia have been advisers and testers during design and
development. Through this testing phase, AmuseIT has already proven to engage and stimulate the minds of older people
“It’s more than that,” says Kerry. “We’ve designed AmuseIT to be intergenerational, to bring people of all ages
together. We’re giving people an activity that will encourage conversation. Imagine the positive impact on a family if a
grandchild now has a way to interact with their grandparent. That will be the measure of AmuseIT’s success.”
AmuseIT is easily downloaded on to your tablet via the Google Play, Apple and Microsoft app stores.