Digital communication support and Alzheimer’s disease

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Abstract

Communication is one of the areas where people with dementia and their caregivers experience most challenges. The purpose of this study is to contribute to the understanding of possibilities and pitfalls of using personalized communication applications installed on tablet computers to support communication for people with dementia and their conversational partners. The study is based on video recordings of a woman, 52 years old, with Alzheimer’s disease interacting with her husband in their home. The couple was recorded interacting with and without a tablet computer including a personalized communication application. The results from the present study reveal both significant possibilities and potential difficulties in introducing a digital communication device to people with dementia and their conversational partners. For the woman in the present study, the amount of interactive actions and the number of communicative actions seem to increase with the use of the communication application. The results also indicate that problems associated with dementia are foregrounded in interaction where the tablet computer is used.

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