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When developing assistive technology for people with dementia it is important to take into account their needs and wishes as well as their cognitive abilities and disabilities. In this chapter we describe how the disabilities accompanying dementia can be taken into account when developing assistive technological devices for this target group. As a case example, we used the COGKNOW project, which specifically focuses on developing ICT support for people with mild dementia in the areas of memory, social contact, daily activities and feelings of safety. Before device development in the first year of the project, workshops and interviews involving 17 persons with dementia and their carers were held to discuss their needs, wishes and disabilities and some background and environmental information were obtained. The main dementia-related disabilities that emerged from this cohort and that proved relevant for the development of an assistive technological device were memory and orientation problems, poor understanding of verbal instruction, difficulty with instrumental daily activities and recognizing/understanding the meaning of pictures. Relevant personal and environmental features were living alone or with a carer, the need for company and social contact, the need for support in doing things for fun, using aids like a walking cane, possessing technological appliances that could not be easily used anymore, living in a house with multiple rooms and levels and feeling insecure when being alone. Taken into account these disabilities, background and environmental features, functional requirements were specified and a device was developed, the COGKNOW Day Navigator Version 1 (CDNv-1). The aim of the CDN was to support people with dementia in reminding, social contact, daily activities and safety in a simple manner. After a development period, the user friendliness and usefulness of this device were assessed via a field test in which the CDNv-1 was tested with 16 people with mild dementia and their carers in their own home. By means of semi-structured interviews and observations, experiences of the persons with dementia and carers with the CDN were inventoried. It was concluded that though most functions were judged as user friendly and useful, further personalization of the CDN would improve the perceived user friendliness and usefulness. This study showed that detailed information on the person with dementia’s functioning and living environment is necessary to attune assistive technology to their needs. The group of persons with dementia that participated in this project also showed that people with mild dementia are very capable of giving their opinion on the user friendliness and usefulness of assistive technology.
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- Dementia-Related and Other Factors to Be Taken into Account When Developing ICT Support for People with Dementia – Lessons from Field Trials
- Springer London
- Chapter 8
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