Investigating The Use Of Everyday Technology and Ways To Improve Its Accessibility For People With Mild To Moderate Dementia

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Individuals living with dementia experience changes in their cognitive, motor, and sensory abilities. These changes in ability invariably affect the way people with dementia use technology. Past work on technology use in the dementia context has found technology use is primarily driven by and benefits caregivers rather than the person living with dementia. Further, much of this past work asserts technology use by people with dementia is only feasible when caregivers are able to provide the necessary technical support to aid the person with dementia. In my dissertation, I provide an alternative perspective. First, I uncover ways technology savvy individuals in the mild to moderate stages of dementia use everyday technologies to manage their daily lives. Findings from this study begin to describe some barriers to technology use participants experience as their abilities change. In the second study of this dissertation, I examine the barriers people with dementia experience due to changes in sensory ability and describe ways these changes can negatively affect technology use. With this understanding of the sensory barriers that people with dementia experience with technology use, the third study of this dissertation uncovers ways people with dementia and healthcare professionals adapt technology to address changing sensory needs, as well as limits in adaptability of commercially available systems that can lead to cessation of technology use. Finally, in the fourth study of my dissertation I investigate opportunities for the design of future systems that are accessible to people with dementia as they experience progressive changes in ability. Taken together my dissertation takes first steps towards addressing the following research questions: • How do technology savvy people living with mild to moderate dementia use technology to manage their daily life and condition?
• What barriers do people living with mild to moderate dementia experience with technology use? • What adaptations are people making to commercially available systems to meet the changing accessibility needs of people with dementia? • What opportunities are there for technology to support people with mild to moderate dementia as they encounter challenges with technology use?