Ambient assistive technology for people with dementia: An Answer to the epidemiologic transition
Over the past decade, several studies have shed light on how the Ambient Assistive Technology (AAT) may increase the life expectancy of older adults experiencing cognitive decline who continue to live in their own homes, as well as improve their autonomy and independence, facilitate their daily activities, and monitor their health status. These technologies can also assist in facilitating social inclusion, helping families, and supporting healthcare organizations (Rashidi & Mihailidis, 2013). One of the most promising applications of AAT for the aging population is provided by assistive robots (Broadbent, Stafford, & MacDonald, 2009; Nejat, Yiyuan, & Nies, 2008). Both older adults with dementia and their caregivers can benefit considerably from the deployment of assistive robots in actual, real-life, contexts of use. However, we still have to fill the gap between the designs of the developers of new technologies and the needs of the users and their caregivers. For example, evaluating what a robot should do and look like, and how it should meet the user’s needs efficiently, and facilitating the work of the caregivers and health professionals so as to prevent technology non-use or abandonment, still remains a challenge, which even the most recent models of user evaluation have not completely solved. In this chapter, we review the state of the art and possible future developments of AAT for people with dementia, while discussing the main research issues in this area, focusing particularly on assistive service robots for eldercare and assistance services. Current technology design approaches, user-experience evaluation techniques, and assistive technology assessment models are discussed.