Living with Dementia... A Lesson In Living

Every 3 seconds someone in the world develops dementia. This is a staggering statistic.

It’s even more unsettling when someone you love is afflicted by this terrible and debilitating disease.

While most of today’s headlines cover those big swing innovations to eradicate dementia, it is usually the simple ideas that offer the greatest benefit and are ironically overlooked.

I found one of those gems this morning. If you spend just a moment to watch this video, I think you might agree. More importantly, you will be equally as moved by Bengt Ivarsson’s story.

Bengt Ivarsson's Video

Bengt Ivarsson is an 82 year old man from Tibro, Sweden. He is happily married to his wife, Laila, and is the father of three loving children. Bengt has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. This film offers insight into Bengt’s current condition, a brief story of his life and how he is using technology to preserve his memory.

Bengt uses a stationary bike called the BikeAround jDome to help stimulate memories. This product is provided by Camanio Care, a company based in Sweden. When riding the bicycle, a street view is projected via Google Street View. This simulated riding experience can go on endlessly, so the user can virtually experience any street in the world.

Ultimately, this solution helps trigger these memorable experiences as if the user is going back in time to a childhood home, or the church where they were married. These profound experiences combined with physical activity are being researched to see if the effects of multisensory stimulation can improve brain function.

At one point in the film, Bengt is riding through his childhood hometown and it stirs up memories from his past. He describes the moment when he first met his wife Laila. In Bengt’s words, “Then and there I decided that this is the girl I am going to marry.”

It is touching to see how technology like the BikeAround jDome can help someone like Bengt, which highlights the prerequisites for good technology: simple, inexpensive, and effective. I also think this video represents more than just the promise of good technology, it illustrates how precious life is, the importance of family, and why we need to be more present. Memories become irrelevant if we can’t enjoy them in the first place. Thanks for the valuable lesson, Bengt!