Best Practice Guidance
Human Interaction with Technology in Dementia


Practical, cognitive & social factors to improve usability of technology for people with dementia

Technologies are increasingly vital in today’s activities in homes and communities. Nevertheless, little attention has been given to the consequences of the increasing complexity and reliance on them, for example, at home, in shops, traffic situations, meaningful activities and health care services. The users’ ability to manage products and services has been largely neglected or taken for granted. People with dementia often do not use the available technology because it does not match their needs and capacities. This section provides recommendations to improve the usability of technology used in daily life, for meaningful activities, in healthcare and in the context of promoting the Social Health of people with dementia.
Technology in everyday life

Provide comprehensive occupational therapy assessments taking account of everyday technology use to improve identification of support needs


People with dementia reporting new difficulties using everyday technologies should be offered a comprehensive assessment by an occupational therapist. While everyday technology can be assistive to everyday activities, in some cases, a pattern of detechnologising indicates instability in the person’s wider pattern of participation and may indicate a need for support, or change in housing situation.

Explanation and Examples

Everyday life, including outside home, more and more involves the use of everyday technologies (mobiles, smartphones, ATMs, transport ticket machines etc), which could even influence the places that people go to. A cross-sectional, quantitative study with 128 older adults with and without dementia in England was conducted using the Everyday Technology Use Questionnaire and the Participation in Places and Activities Outside Home questionnaire.

Results of statistical analyses confirmed that for some people; going to a lower amount of places was related to perceiving a lower amount of technologies relevant in daily life and living in a relatively more deprived area. A subsequent case study was conducted with 13 rurally dwelling older adults from the same sample (using the same questionnaires with additional interview notes, observations, maps, subsequent relevant document collation i.e. mobile and internet network availability reports).

Findings highlighted a person could perceive detechnologising, particularly around the home and garden, as one of several signs of vulnerability when living alone rurally. Such vulnerability was then a sign of a need for support to make living at home more tenable, including to increase safety in the grounds surrounding home, or was a sign of a need to relocate.

Type of evidence

Sarah Wallcook (INDUCT ESR4)

Quantitative cross-sectional study with 128 UK-based participants, case study of 13 rurally dwelling older adults with mild dementia in England.


Wallcook, S., Nygård, L., Kottorp, A., Gaber, S. N., Charlesworth, G. & Malinowsky, C. (submitted) Kaleidoscopic associations between life outside home and the technological environment that shape occupational injustice – revealed with cross-sectional statistical modelling

Wallcook, S. (2021) Conditions of Everyday Technology Use and its Interplay in the Lives of Older Adults with and without Dementia. (PhD thesis) Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm.