Tracing the successful incorporation of assistive technology into everyday life for younger people with dementia and family carers

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Abstract

Research shows that people with late-onset dementia and their relatives can benefit from using assistive technology (AT). Few researchers have investigated the use and utility of AT in everyday life for younger people with dementia (YPD) and their family carers. The aim of this study is to explore what characterised the implementation process when the AT was experienced as beneficial to the YPD and the family carer in their daily life. The qualitative longitudinal study followed 12 younger people (i.e. those under 65 years of age), who had recently been diagnosed with dementia and 14 of their family carers. In-depth interviews and observations during the process were conducted at the beginning, and were repeated every 3rd month for up to 12 months. The data were analysed, and the participants' experiences further discussed on the basis of embodied, social- and everyday life-situated approaches, in order to provide a deeper understanding of the interactive processes involved in the trajectory. Five elements in the process were identified as important for the experience of usefulness and successful incorporation of AT. The AT had to: (1) be valuable by addressing practical, emotional, and relational challenges; (2) fit well into, or be a better solution for, habitual practice and established strategies; (3) generate positive emotions, and become a reliable and trustworthy tool; (4) be user-friendly, adaptable, and manageable; and (5) interest and engage the family carer. The study demonstrated the importance of understanding the use and utility of AT on the basis of embodied and social participation in daily life. The family carers played a significant role in whether or not, and in which ways, AT was absorbed into the everyday life practice of YPD.

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