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P26. Empowering technologies in dementia care

Detailed programme and abstracts

For long, ICT applications in dementia care and support have focussed predominantly on monitoring and safety issues and (Demiris, 2008; Evans et al., 2015). However, there is growing attention for applications in the field of empowerment, self-management and social participation, which may contribute to the social health of people living with dementia. In this symposium on technology we want to focus on several new and every day technologies and discuss their role in promoting social health of people with dementia and their carers.

P26.1. MARIO: Healthy aging with use of caring service robot


MARIO, a European Horizon 2020 funded project, aims to develop a companion robot for people with dementia to enhance their social connectedness and engagement and thereby reduce their loneliness and isolation. An iterative process was employed and people with dementia were involved at each phase of development. They helped to guide the appearance of MARIO and the applications they would like to have available on MARIO. This resulted in the creation of a group of applications including- My Music, My Hobbies, My Memories, and My Family and Friends. 

We hypothesized that we would be faced with various challenges when MARIO interacted with people with more moderate to severe dementia in residential care.  These challenges included; (a) would the person understand how to interact with MARIO, (b) would they be able to use the touch screen, (c) would they understand MARIO when he spoke and, (d) would MARIO understand the person with dementia, given their speech patterns. This paper presents the results of the initial testing which focused on exploring our hypothesis and investigating the nature and extent of the aforementioned challenges.

Testing of the applications lasted four weeks and on average, two interactions, per person, were carried out each week with five people with dementia. In each phase, interactions with MARIO were guided and supervised by a researcher. Firstly, the researcher demonstrated the functionality of the applications. Then, the person with dementia was asked to voluntarily navigate through the applications. Two bespoke questionnaires were used to capture qualitative and quantitative data. The findings from this initial testing confirms our hypothesis in that although most participants interacted with MARIO, some had difficulty using the touch screen and MARIO’s speech recognition software was not fully able to comprehend those with more advance dementia. These findings will guide the next iteration of MARIO.

P26.2. FindMyApps: a person-centred tablet programme to support people with mild dementia in their self-management and meaningful activities; user-participatory development


Background: There is growing evidence that hand-held touch-screen devices (tablets) and applications (apps) such as apps for social contact and leisure activities, can support people with mild dementia to manage their life and engage in meaningful activities. However, not all people with dementia are familiar with the use of tablets and not all apps are suitable for each individual. Therefore, a person-centred tablet intervention, called FindMyApps, was developed in co-creation with end users. The intervention consists of a training to learn to use the tablet and a selection tool to help users find apps for self-management and meaningful activities that fit their needs, wishes and abilities.

Method: To ensure its user-friendliness and usefulness the FindMyApps selection tool was developed using a ‘participatory design’. Users (persons with dementia and informal carers) and other important stakeholders, such as professional caregivers and experts (designers, developers and researchers) closely cooperated in this development. Three iterations took place in which the users were invited in several rounds to test whether the prototypes matched their needs, wishes and abilities.

Results: Each iteration led the researchers to a selection tool that increasingly fitted user’s needs and wishes concerning the content and design of the tool, which contributed to a more tailored application. The research team gained more insight in usability issues (e.g. recognizable main and sub activities for choosing potential apps in the domains of self-management and meaningful activities), as well as issues to increase the user-friendliness (e.g. an intuitive design with an instructive navigation support). This led to a promising provisional end version of the tool.

Conclusion: The participatory design used for the development of FindMyApps selection tool appeared valuable for understanding the needs, wishes and abilities of the users. FindMyApps will be further developed and tested in a feasibility study. 

P26.3. Participation and risk in public spaces and everyday technology use among people with and without mild-stage dementia in Sweden


Background: Everyday Technologies, such as cash machines, self-service check-outs and mobile phones are pervading public space and affecting the complexity of activities that people wish to perform. As the rate of dementia in Europe escalates, consideration of the cognitive aspects of participation in such places and activities outside home, including attendant risk is increasingly important.

Aim: The study aims to build profiles of perceived participation in activities and places outside the home, in relation to Everyday Technologies and perceptions of risk, as perceived by people with and without mild-stage dementia.

Methods: 35 People living with mild-stage dementia and 35 people with no known cognitive impairment in Sweden are interviewed in their homes using structured questionnaires, to explore Everyday Technology use in public space and to map perceived participation in activities and places outside home, including perceived risks associated with public space. Quantitative methods are used to explore the patterns in the collected data, including differences among groups and relationships between variables.

Results: Preliminary findings will be presented according to the perceived participation of people with and without mild-stage dementia in profiles and clusters of participation in activities and places outside home. Hypotheses will be developed and tested about the transactional interactions between Everyday Technologies in public space and facilitators and barriers such as perceived risks, to participation in activities and places for people living with and without mild-stage dementia.

Conclusions: The findings will inform a broader, unfolding study for the Marie Skłodowska Curie Interdisciplinary Network for Dementia Using Current Technology (INDUCT) training network, to facilitate the development of appropriate targeted support for people with dementia in Europe in order to maintain levels of participation in places and activities outside home, as well as more accessible and usable public spaces.

P26.4. Development and feasibility of Inlife: an online social support intervention for informal caregivers of people with dementia

De VUGT Marjolein, DAM Alieske, VERHEY Frans, van BOXTEL Martin

Background: Informal caregivers of individuals with dementia have an increased risk to face social isolation due to progression of the disease. Online social media interventions might offer a new opportunity to increase access to social support and enhance positive interactions and openness in dementia care networks.

Objective: This explorative study describes (1) the development of an online social support intervention - Inlife and (2) the evaluation of the feasibility of this intervention.

Methods: The Medical Research Council (MRC) framework guided the development of the online social support intervention. This is a stepwise approach that integrates potential users’ views with the development and validation of the program content. The program was developed by combining (1) individual caregiver interviews (n=10), (2) focus group sessions with experts and web designers (n=6), and (3) individual think-aloud test (n=2). Subsequently, a pilot study with informal caregivers was conducted (n=25) to examine the program’s feasibility and preliminary effectiveness. Online self-report measures were completed at baseline and at four follow-up time points.

Results: In total, 23 participants completed the newly developed Inlife intervention. Despite the high number of low-active users (17/23, 73%), Inlife had a good feasibility score of 7.1 (range: 1-10). The calendar and timeline were used most frequently and contributed to better care coordination and positive interactions.

Conclusions: Although the Inlife platform received a sufficient feasibility rating, the uptake was not optimal Therefore, the Inlife platform was adapted to limit the number of low-active users and improve user friendliness. Recommendations for additional treatment adherence are provided. The development according to the MRC framework and the sufficient feasibility rating of Inlife formed the basis for a future effectiveness study.

P26.5. User-participatory development and evaluation of a tablet computer based social networking platform CAREGIVERSPRO-MMD


This innovation for people living with dementia, their caregivers, and healthcare professionals is developed within a European Horizon 2020 funded research project. The platform will encourage the growth of mutual assistance communities and be a forum for all three communities to share information and support.  The platform will be tested at four pilot sites, in Spain, Italy France and the UK, starting in May 2017.  The platform will be demonstrated and initial findings will be reported.



Last Updated: Tuesday 24 October 2017


  • Acknowledgements

    The 27th AE Conference in Berlin received funding under an operating grant from the European Union’s Health Programme (2014-2020). Alzheimer Europe and Deutsche Alzheimer Gesellschaft e.V. gratefully acknowledge the support of all conference sponsors.
  • European Union
  • Roche