Best Practice Guidance
Human Interaction with Technology in Dementia

themes: Support

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.

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Implementation of technology in dementia care: facilitators & barriers

Successful implementation of technology in dementia care depends not merely on its effectiveness but also on other facilitating or impeding factors related to e.g. the personal living environment (privacy, autonomy and obtrusiveness); the outside world (stigma and human contact); design (personalisability, affordability and safety), and ethics on these subjects.  This section provides recommendations on the implementation of technology in everyday life, for meaningful activities, healthcare technology and technology promoting Social Health.
Technology for meaningful activities

Ensure the support from the management of care organisations to promote successful implementation of exergaming


Employees of care organisations should be supported by the management in their responsibility for Exergaming as a new activity. Managers should be actively engaged in Exergaming and be kept updated on any developments with regard to Exergaming (i.e. positive experiences of people with dementia practising Exergaming, any potential issues with the activity).

Explanation and examples

We have asked day-care centres for people living with dementia, which factors played a role in successful implementation of Exergaming. The staff of these day-care centres sometimes did not feel supported by the management in supervising and implementing the Exergaming activity. This made it less likely for them to implement it.

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Social Health Domain 2: Manage ones own life and promote independence

Signpost people with dementia to social media as accessible, virtual platforms to share experiences and information


Social media have the potential to be an additional supportive medium for people with dementia. It is recommended to signpost individuals with dementia to social media platforms to leverage their potential.

Explanation and Examples:

We conducted an online survey with 143 people with dementia to explore how they used social media platforms and what kind of information they shared on their accounts. Our findings show that people with dementia use various different social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter to raise awareness, give and receive support, and to share their experiences of living with dementia. As subsequent older generations will use technology more and, consequently, will become more tech-savvy, social media platforms will become more relevant for this population. As post-diagnostic support is often lacking, social media platforms can be used as medium that is widely available and easily accessible to offer people with dementia additional (peer) support. Examples of these platforms include online forums like Talking Point by the Alzheimer’s Society UK, Facebook groups run by charities or dementia organisations, or Twitter where many people with dementia are active. Signposting people with dementia to these social media platforms is therefore recommended.

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Social Health Domain 3: Technology to promote social participation