Access and ability to use everyday technology among older adults with and without dementia across different countries

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SwedenKarolinska Institute Sweden
Early Stage Researcher (ESR4)


Sarah Wallcook

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Prof. Louise Nygard

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Assistant Prof Camilla Malinowsky

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Hello, I am delighted to be working with the CACTUS team at Karolinska on this research project. I originally graduated from the University of Manchester in music in 2004, completed my masters in occupational therapy at the University of Cumbria in 2016, and I am due to defend my thesis this coming December 2020.

In between my education, I have enjoyed a diverse career in project management, education, practice, performance, and now research. Throughout my career journey, I have been interested in the unique meaning of an activity to each individual and how unpicking this helps to shape a personalised service.

Within my research, I am interested in the perspectives of people with dementia and in involving people with dementia across the research process. I focus on the changing role of technology in people’s lives and the interplay between individual experience and sociopolitical forces.

Duration 36 months
Start date September 2016


The objectives are to address questions such as: What is the stability and/or variation of the level of difficulty of different everyday technologies for older people including those with dementia across countries? Which interface characteristics, samples, or contexts make certain technologies more challenging? How do technologies impact on wellbeing and social participation, and what consequences follow when older adults have limited or no access/use of technology? Access to technology is often considered part of ageing well even though many people don’t use all technologies they can access.

Expected Results

This study will produce maps of everyday technology use across European countries (what technologies people have access to) and the technology rooms (what technologies people use/have used/intend to use), by the use of standardized instruments, and hierarchies of the difficulty levels of these technologies in different contexts will be developed for comparisons. Similarly, it will produce comparisons of the perceived ability to use technology of people with and without dementia across countries. This includes explorations of meanings attached to technology by older adults with and without mild stage dementia and which aspects interfere with life satisfaction and social participation, plus the conditions for potential support from/through technology. These studies will provide new, generic, knowledge of the interplay between older adults as users of technology in different environments/contexts to facilitate development of a technological landscape where objects better fit the needs and abilities of people with dementia.

Planned secondment(s)

Two of 3 months. In the first year with Prof Paul Higgs at University College of London, UK to develop a deeper understanding of social issues in to technology including stigma and social exclusion. In the second year, with Ritchard Ledgerd at the World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT) (80 organisations) to conduct a survey and report on technology use for people with dementia across the world, and to collaborate with ESR3 to produce a WFOT good practice guide on technology and dementia.



Download my project lay report, written together with Sophie Gaber (ESR 3) from the INDUCT news page here:



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.

Wallcook, S., Malinowsky, C., Kottorp, A. & Nygård, L. (2019) ‘The use of Everyday Information Communication Technologies in the lives of older adults living with and without dementia in Sweden’, Assistive Technology.

Alvarez, L., Wallcook, S., von Zweck, C, Timbeck, R., Ledgerd, R. (2019) ‘Global indicators of assistive technology use amongst occupational therapists: Report from the World Federation of Occupational Therapists’ Global Survey’ In, World Health Organization, Global perspectives on assistive technology: proceedings of the GReAT Consultation 2019, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland, 22–23 August 2019. Volume 2. Geneva: World Health Organization. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO, p.411-423.

World Federation of Occupational Therapists, Alvarez, L., Holte, T., Layton, N., Ledgerd, R., McAdam, J., Salman, H., Steggles, E., Wallcook, S. (2019) WFOT Position Statement: Occupational therapy and assistive technology.


Forthcoming: ‘The resilience of an occupational therapy tool to the changing technological environment’, 2nd COTEC-ENOTHE CONGRESS 2020, 23-26 September 2020.

Forthcoming: ‘Exploring the connection between emerging technologies, and the places outside home people with and without dementia go to’, Alzheimer’s Society Annual Conference 2020, London; 18 May 2020.

Forthcoming: ‘To be an intervention, or not to be an intervention? Dementia-friendliness and the vulnerability of groups in rural places’, Alzheimer’s Society Annual Conference 2020, London; 18 May 2020.

Wallcook, S. ‘Design – Provide – Enable’, in Symposium; P4. Technology and human interaction: INDUCT: Best practice guidance on human with technology in dementia, 29th Alzheimer Europe Conference, The Hague; 24 October 2019.

Wallcook, S., Kottorp, A., Nygård, L., Charlesworth, G. & Malinowsky, C. ‘Age-friendly technological cityscapes: What is utopia?’ in Poster session PO20.16, 29th Alzheimer Europe Conference, The Hague, 25 October 2019.

Wallcook, S., Charlesworth, G., Higgs, P. & Gilleard, C. (2019) PPI as a non-pharmacological intervention with people with dementia?: Discussing the opportunities and threats, in Symposium; ‘Patient Public Involvement (PPI) in Dementia Research: Emerging Issues and Tensions’, British Society of Gerontology 48th Annual Conference – Resilience and Living Well in Local Communities, Liverpool, 12 July 2019.

Wallcook, S., Malinowsky, C., Kottorp, A. & Nygård, L. (2019) Use of information communication technologies in everyday life: older adults with and without dementia, in Symposium; ‘Digital Seniors: Perspectives on Aging with Technology’, International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics European Region Congress 2019, Gothenburg, 23 May 2019.

Wallcook, S., Malinowsky, C., Kottorp, A. & Nygård, L. (2019) Infomations och kommunikationsteknik i vardagen bland äldre personer med och utan demens [Information Communication Technologies in everyday life between older adults with and without dementia], Arbetsterapiforum, Stockholm, 3 April 2019.

Wallcook, S., Malinowsky, C., Kottorp, A. & Nygård, L. (2018) Implementation Issues: how can people use technology in daily practice, Interdem Symposium on implementations of technologies to support people living with dementia and carers; 28th Alzheimer Europe Conference, Barcelona; 31 October 2018.

World Federation of Occupational Therapists, Wallcook, S., Gaber, S., Ledgerd, R., Alvarez, L., Shann, S., Cavalcanti Barroso, A. (2018) Report from the World Federation of Occupational Therapists’ (WFOT) Global Survey of Current Assistive Technology Use. World Federation of Occupational Therapists Congress, Cape Town; 24 May 2018.


From opera to occupational therapy – in – 19/10/2016

UK student becomes MSCA fellow – in – 20/10/2016

Sarah secures place in top Swedish university – in – 24/10/2016

Doing it for Dementia During Dementia Awareness Week – in – 15/05/2017

Alzheimer Europe newsletter May 2017 – INDUCT project invites people in the UK to take part in its research study –

Click here to know how to join this research –