Assistive Technologies for People with Diverse Abilities

Part of the series Autism and Child Psychopathology Series pp 219-250


Assistive Technology for People with Alzheimer’s Disease

  • Nirbhay N. SinghAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry and Health Behavior, Medical College of Georgia, Georgia Regents University Email author 
  • , Giulio E. LancioniAffiliated withDepartment of Neuroscience and Sense Organs, University of Bari
  • , Jeff SigafoosAffiliated withSchool of Educational Psychology and Pedagogy, Victoria University of Wellington
  • , Mark F. O’ReillyAffiliated withDepartment of Special Education, University of Texas at Austin
  • , Alan S. W. WintonAffiliated withSchool of Psychology, Massey University

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This chapter presents an overview of studies that have evaluated the use of assistive technology to enable people with Alzheimer’s disease to maintain or enhance the quality of their lives despite neurodegeneration. The studies are divided into seven skill areas. The first group of studies shows that technology-aided verbal instructions and pictorial cues can be used to assist individuals with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease to reengage in activities of daily living, such as morning toileting routines, making tea or coffee, and using make-up. The second group of studies shows that individuals with mild to severe Alzheimer’s disease can use assistive technology to self-regulate their music choice. The third group of studies indicates that simple assistive technology devices can be used to enable people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease to find their way around in familiar places where they live. The fourth group of studies suggests that people with moderate Alzheimer’s disease can use computer-based phone systems to keep in touch with their spouse and other family members, long-time friends, and staff. The fifth group of studies on wayfinding and wandering suggest that more work is needed to develop assistive technologies, including virtual reality programs, that may help people with Alzheimer’s disease who are either disoriented or lost to find their way home or to a designated location. The sixth group of studies suggests that even with declining cognitive abilities, with the help of simple devices, individuals afflicted with this disease can achieve urinary control. Finally, the seventh group of studies clearly indicates that assistive technology can be used to reengage people at different levels of Alzheimer’s disease to meaningfully engage in conversation about their family, friends, and significant life events. Overall, while the use of assistive technology is in its nascent stage with this population, what there is shows great promise in reengaging people with Alzheimer’s disease with their family, friends, and activities of daily living.