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

Take a multi-perspective approach when procuring public space technologies to improve usability internationally


When selecting technologies for use in public spaces, procurers should involve occupational therapists and designers with expertise in dementia, and people living with dementia.  Public space technologies should:

  1. have the most cognitively enabling and inclusive design features (i.e. minimal steps and memory demands),
  2. be sited in the most supportive physical location (i.e. secure vestibule, busy thoroughfare) and
  3. identify and account for wider sociocultural preferences (i.e. continued face-to-face services).

Explanation and Examples

Life outside home in most countries increasingly demands the use of everyday technologies (ETs i.e. transport ticket and parking machines, ATMs, airline self-check in machines, fuel pumps). However, ETs can present challenges, particularly for people with dementia, and differences in design and location may mean some ETs are easier to use than others.

To investigate variation in the challenge of ETs; the Everyday Technology Use Questionnaire was administered with 315 people with and without dementia (73 in Sweden, 114 in the USA, 128 in England) in a cross-sectional, quantitative study. Modern statistical analysis found 5/16 public space ETs differed in challenge level between countries (specifically: ATM, airline self-check-in, bag drop, automatic ticket gates, fuel pump).

These differences result from variation in design features or siting of technologies. However, they may also be due to differing habits between users in different countries (i.e. necessity and frequency of use, preference for particular modes of transport, concerns about security, embarrassment) or varying progress towards technologised rather than face-to-face services (i.e. towards cashlessness).

Taking account of inter-country differences could lead to selecting the most useable technologies and services. This could improve inclusiveness of public space internationally for older adults with and without dementia.

Type of evidence

Sarah Wallcook (INDUCT ESR4)

Quantitative, cross-sectional study with 315 participants in three countries


Wallcook, S., Malinowsky, C., Nygård, L., Charlesworth, G., Lee, J., Walsh, R., Gaber, S.N., & Kottorp, A. (2020) The perceived challenge of everyday technologies in Sweden, the United States, and England: exploring differential item functioning in the Everyday Technology Use Questionnaire, Scandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 27(8):554-566. doi: 10.1080/11038128.2020.1723685.