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Brief Published: 25 Jun 2020

Japan's Anti-Dementia App for Socially Distant Seniors

Social distancing could have particularly acute effects for seniors

As we highlight in Supporting the Super Elders, social distancing could have particularly acute effects for seniors, who already experience high levels of chronic loneliness – a risk factor for dementia. Noting this challenge, a governmental agency in Japan has developed an app to help seniors stay sharp and connected amidst socialisation restraints.

The free app instructs users to create simple self-care routines, such as going for walks, performing bodyweight exercises or accessing remote support services. A library of 50 workouts that can be done at home helps simplify physical exercise. There are plans to add features like word and maths games, as well as an in-app portal directing seniors to digital services like Uber Eats or Amazon. 

This app is a smart move to support seniors, and echoes text-messaging hotlines we’ve seen arise in Singapore and Hong Kong – see Supporting the Super Elders for details. Yet these services should also have a life beyond the pandemic, as seniors are likely to feel the effects of social distancing long after restrictions officially end. Support apps could offer an easy-access alternative to the in-person services we feature in Gen Lonely, as well as a modern refresh to the nostalgia-focused dementia therapies we profile on The Brief.

Japan’s app joins a flurry of new chatbot services designed to support consumers’ mental health. With seniors becoming increasingly tech-savvy, anti-dementia apps could benefit older consumers looking to steel themselves against mental decline, prevent loneliness and get access to social services.

For more on the surge of inclusive services during the pandemic, see Covid-19 Empathy: Tech Supports Access & Inclusivity.