Best Practice Guidance
Human Interaction with Technology in Dementia

themes: Stigma

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

Consider selling empowering products for people with dementia and carers and avoid stigmatizing stereotypes


Providers and marketers of ST should not communicate a wanderer with dementia discourse. Rather they should focus on useful person-centred products and communicate this in a non-stigmatising way towards family carers and people living with dementia in order to provide empowering products.

Explanations and examples

Surveillance Technology (ST), such as GPS tracking devices are used as a resilience tool to increase the safety and independence of people with dementia that portray people with dementia to sell such technologies in a way that encourages stereotypes and contribute to a misunderstanding of dementia. This in turn could also impact technology development. This qualitative research undertook three studies of production (who made what), audience reception (what do users need) and textual analysis (what media techniques are used to attract attention) focused on the UK, Sweden and the Netherlands. The production study examined 242 websites that sell ST and a wanderer discourse with dementia was found. These websites give minimum representation of people with dementia using technology but represent overburdened younger-female carers, who are in need for a locating safety product to covertly use for wandering people with dementia, children and pets. Relying on stereotypes and “not so useful” technology will hinder resilience for people with dementia. Rather, it may imply the continuous stigmatisation that occurs when people with dementia are stereotyped and disregarded as human technology users.

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Addressing stigma through online and offline service options


Service providers should counter the stigmatising effect of not having access to, or not being a skilled user of, Everyday Technologies, for people with dementia and consider strategies to enhance participation, providing offline and online choices for all public services.

Explanation and Examples

Interviews were performed with 128 older people with and without dementia in the UK, and 69 people with and without dementia in Sweden. In both the UK and Swedish studies, people with dementia reported significantly lower use of Everyday Technologies compared to older people without dementia. People with dementia also reported significantly lower participation in places and activities within public space. Reduced ability to use Everyday Technologies was linked to reduced participation in places visited and activities within public space for people with dementia. Community-based consultations with older people with and without dementia across London showed that Everyday Technologies can provide opportunities to participate in services, e.g. eHealth and online banking. However, without face-to-face or written options (e.g. offline), people with dementia are at risk of stigma associated with digital exclusion. Barriers to participation in their everyday lives can lead to social isolation.

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