Best Practice Guidance
Human Interaction with Technology in Dementia

themes: Carer sense of competence

Evaluating the effectiveness of specific contemporary technology

The rapid growth of the technological landscape and related new services have the potential to improve the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of health and social services and facilitate social participation and engagement in activities. But which technology is effective and how is this evaluated best? This section provides recommendations to evaluate the effectiveness of technology in daily life, meaningful activities and healthcare services as well as of technologies aimed to promote the Social Health of people with dementia. Examples of useful technologies in some of these areas are provided.
Technology for meaningful activities

Consider offering Exergaming as meaningful activity in day care centres for people with dementia


Meaningful activities for people with dementia have proven value for their social health. Exergaming is an innovative way of exercising in a gaming environment. This movement activity may be experienced as meaningful by the persons with dementia, is considered fun to do and has benefits for them as well as for their relatives.

Explanation and example

Exergaming was compared to usual activities in a cluster Randomized Controlled Trial among day care centres for people with dementia. In this study exergaming consisted of interactive cycling using a stationary bicycle (i.e. home trainer) connected to a screen. The screen displays various routes which the participant can select and this mimics the experience of cycling outside, thus offering simultaneous physical and cognitive stimulation.

Positive effects in favour of exergaming were found on cognition and social functioning in people with dementia and on carers’ distress related to their relative’s neuropsychiatric symptoms and the carers’ sense of competence. Furthermore, persons with dementia, family carers and staff were satisfied with the exergaming intervention.

Exergaming can thus be considered a meaningful activity, and a good alternative when outdoor physical activities are not possible because of weather conditions or safety risks (fall incidents, wandering).

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Social Health Domain 3: Technology to promote social participation

The FindMyApps intervention should be preferred to usual tablet use to promote social participation in community-dwelling people with mild cognitive impairment or mild dementia as it better supports their quality of life if they are experiencing apathy, and better supports their informal caregivers’ sense of competence


Care providers should consider providing people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or mild dementia with the FindMyApps tablet-based intervention, or even a usual tablet without FindMyApps if accompanied with appropriate training, as an effective way of improving their social participation.

Explanation and Examples:

Evidence from the FindMyApps project has identified increases in social participation associated with use of the tablet-based FindMyApps intervention or a usual tablet without FindMyApps, when accompanied by appropriate training. The improvements were slightly more pronounced with the FindMyApps intervention than with a tablet without FindMyApps, particularly with respect to the diversity of social activities in which people participated (as opposed to the overall frequency of social activities). Evidence was also found for people with MCI/mild dementia experiencing apathy prior to receiving the interventions having better quality of life outcomes when they received FindMyApps. All improvements found were small.

Caregivers’ sense of competence refers to how well caregivers feel they can provide care for their family member with dementia or friend, and for how long. Evidence from the FindMyApps project has identified that the FindMyApps intervention is associated with a greater sense of competence for caregivers (moderate effect size) of community-dwelling people with MCI/mild dementia than a normal tablet and should therefore be implemented by preference to a normal tablet.

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