Social and Assistive Robotics in Dementia Care: Ethical Recommendations for Research and Practice

Abstract

The steadily growing number of older adults with dementia worldwide poses a major challenge for global public health. The integration of robotics into both formal and informal dementia care opens up new possibilities for improving the life of patients and alleviating the burden on caregivers and the healthcare services. However, ethical, legal and social implications should be considered early in the development of assistive and social robots for dementia to prevent slow adoption, incorrect implementation and inappropriate use. This paper delineates the ethical landscape and provides recommendations for design and use aimed at protecting users and maximizing the benefit in assisting such vulnerable population.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Our recommendations on informed consent are largely based or further elaborated upon Alzheimer Europe’s report “The Ethics of Dementia Research.” [35].

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Acknowledgments

The collaboration was made possible with the support received from Swiss National Science Foundation’s SCOPES Program, Grant No. IZ74Z0_160445.

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Correspondence to Marcello Ienca.

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Ienca, M., Jotterand, F., Vică, C. et al. Social and Assistive Robotics in Dementia Care: Ethical Recommendations for Research and Practice. Int J of Soc Robotics 8, 565–573 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12369-016-0366-7

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Keywords

  • Dementia
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Robotics
  • Ethics
  • Informed consent
  • Recommendations