Skeuomorphic Reassurance: Personhood and Dementia

  • David KrepsEmail author
  • Oliver K. Burmeister
  • Jessica Blaynee
Conference paper
Part of the IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology book series (IFIPAICT, volume 474)


User interface design needs to be revisited for people with dementia. This paper introduces ‘skeuomorphic reassurance’ as a guiding principle for human interfaces in technological design, particularly for older people and people with dementia (PwD). Skeuomorphs exhibit decorative design elements reminiscent of ‘parent’ objects that incorporated such design elements because they were structurally integral.

The philosophy of personhood is discussed in the context of dementia, concluding that the subjective character of conscious mental processes is an irreducible feature of reality, and the persistence of personhood in PwD supports this assertion.

Assistive technologies that aid carers, as well as PwD, need to ensure that skeuomorphic reassurance is incorporated in their design, not least because older people and PwD need recognisable interfaces today, but because the problems today’s over-65s have with digital technologies may not go away, but re-present themselves generation after generation, unless skeuomorphic reassurance is built into their design.


Person centred care Family centred care Applied ethics Personhood Dementia Digital inclusion 


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Copyright information

© IFIP International Federation for Information Processing 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Kreps
    • 1
    Email author
  • Oliver K. Burmeister
    • 2
  • Jessica Blaynee
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Digital BusinessUniversity of SalfordSalfordUK
  2. 2.School of Computing and MathematicsCharles Sturt UniversityBathurstAustralia

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