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Leveraging everyday technology for people living with dementia: a case study

A.J. Astell (Professor A.J. Astell is a Research Chair, based at Centre for Assistive Technology and Connected Healthcare, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK and Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences, Ontario, Canada.)
B. Malone (B. Malone is based at Scottish Dementia Working Group, Dundee, UK.)
G. Williams (G. Williams is based at School of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, UK.)
F. Hwang (Dr F. Hwang, School of Systems Engineering, University of Reading, Reading, UK.)
M.P. Ellis (Dr M.P. Ellis is a Fellow in Dementia Care, based at School of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, UK.)

Journal of Assistive Technologies

ISSN: 1754-9450

Article publication date: 9 December 2014




The purpose of this paper is to present the self-described “journey” of a person with dementia (Brian; author 3) in his re-learning of old technologies and learning of new ones and the impact this had on his life.


This is a single case study detailing the participant's experiences collaborating with a researcher to co-create methods of facilitating this learning process, which he documented in the form of an online blog and diary entries. These were analysed using NVivo to reveal the key themes.


Brian was able to relearn previously used technologies and learn two new ones. This lead to an overarching theme of positive outlook on life supported by person-centredness, identity and technology, which challenged negative perceptions about dementia.

Research limitations/implications

The paper provides an example of how learning and technology improved the life of one person with dementia. By sharing the approach the authors hope to encourage others to embrace the challenge of designing and developing innovative solutions for people with a dementia diagnosis by leveraging both current mainstream technology and creating novel bespoke interventions for dementia.


The personal perspective of a person with dementia and his experiences of (re-) learning provide a unique insight into the impact of technology on his life.



This research was supported by grant no. TS/10030/1 from the Technology Strategy Board to the first and fourth authors. The authors are immensely grateful to the manager, staff and service users at the Alzheimer Scotland Resource Centre Dundee for their years of support and collaboration in the research to improve the lives of people living with dementia.


Astell, A.J., Malone, B., Williams, G., Hwang, F. and Ellis, M.P. (2014), "Leveraging everyday technology for people living with dementia: a case study", Journal of Assistive Technologies, Vol. 8 No. 4, pp. 164-176.



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Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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