Let’s follow Isabela as she uses Memory Spark.
Isabela sits down and turns on her iPad. She opens up Memory Spark and starts a new session. It asks her: Which different foods did you eat for dinner last night? She easily recalls that she had lentil soup, bread, a Greek salad, and some iced tea. She taps the answer that indicates she can remember several items. Later in the session, Isabela will be presented with intermediate-term recall exercises that are more challenging.
These preliminary questions ensure that the memory exercises are calibrated to the stage of dementia that the person is in, as well as to how the person is feeling at that moment.
Calibration is done independently for each category of memory exercise. This allows for variation in specific ability. For instance, intermediate-term recall might be more challenging for someone, but short-term spatial recall might be easier. This player would be presented with less difficult intermediate-term recall exercises, but have more challenging short-term spatial recall exercises.
Finally, because these preliminary questions are presented before every session, Memory Spark adapts to daily - or even hourly - fluctuations in ability and mood. For instance, a player might be presented with a more challenging Memory Spark session in the morning. But, for whatever reason, they’re not feeling great later in the day, so a second session in the late afternoon might present them with less difficult exercises.
Isabela is on the last preliminary question: Which do you like best? Nature. Space. Cars. Isabela has always been a big science-fiction fan, so she smiles brightly and taps the Space button. Memory Spark will now present a session with an overarching space theme. Isabela will see moons and planets and spaceships. She’ll hear ethereal space-y background music. All of Isabela’s memory activities will be related to space.
Allowing the player to pick a theme they like makes every session of Memory Spark that much more personal and tailor-made. Every person is different. Some folks like space, others prefer cars. And, even the same person might be in the mood for something different each time. Space on Tuesday morning, cars on Thursday afternoon, and nature on Saturday - why not?
Isabela just finished the last preliminary question (Isabela picked a Space theme). The first activity she sees is an intermediate-term recall exercise. The screen displays 3 words: Rocket. Solar Flare. Light-Year. She’s encouraged to try to remember these 3 words because she’ll be asked to recall them again at the very end of the session (30 minutes or more later).
This is an example of a memory exercise that asks the player to keep something in their memory for around 30 minutes or more. They do other activities before being asked to recall what they memorized.
Memory Spark provides a range of memory exercise types. This encourages the use of various memory mechanisms and activates diverse parts of the brain. Variety also keeps things fresh and exciting, throughout a single session and between sessions.
The next activity Isabela sees is a short-term spatial memory exercise. The screen displays 4 moons. An orange rocket ship sits on the one in the lower-left, and a bright green alien ship sits on the one in the upper-right. Isabela is asked to try to commit the scene to memory. On the next screen, she’s asked to tap on the moon that had the orange rocket ship on it.
This is an example of a memory exercise that asks the player to recall the spatial location of something. As previously mentioned, Memory Spark provides a range of memory exercise types. This encourages the use of various memory mechanisms and activates diverse parts of the brain.
Isabela just finished a short-term spatial recall activity. On the next screen, she sees a Think Back moment. Isabela is asked to think back to the day of the first moon landing. She smiles again as she recalls how excited and proud she was watching it on television. The screen prompts her to really probe her memory by asking her about the details of that event. Where was she? Who was with her? How did it make her feel? She spends a good 10 minutes or more thinking back, and sometimes - she’s not afraid to admit - she even talks to herself out loud as she happily recalls how her family was huddled around the TV that amazing day.
Memory Spark really shines when it comes to encouraging social engagement! There are plenty of opportunities for interaction during the memory exercise activities, but the Think Back moments are specifically designed to spark conversation.
We want to make social interaction easy and enticing. Think Back moments support the player living with dementia, as well as their partner in the session by providing a few “get the ball rolling” questions. This helps foster deeper and broader conversations, as well as lessen any anxiety or discomfort either person might be feeling.