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An Assistive Technology Framework for Older Adults with Dementia: A User-Centred Design Approach

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease, assistive technology, intelligent technology, design guidelines, informal caregivers.

This research is being done in collaboration with York University.

Overview of Research


People with dementia often have difficulties in performing everyday activities. Since care for older adults with dementia is often provided by informal caregivers in a home environment, the burden associated with helping with activities of daily living (ADL) completion is shifted onto the caregivers, impacting the quality of life of both the older adults with dementia and their caregivers. Assistive technologies (AT) have been developed to help individuals with dementia live more independently in their own homes and communities. However, the majority of these devices are abandoned by the users due to a lack of understanding of users’ needs and a failure to consider the influence of the social factors, such as cultural differences, age and education, on those needs.


The overall goal of this project is to develop AT design guidelines within a generalizable framework that is effective in addressing the unique needs of individuals living with dementia and their caregivers as influenced by different social factors, such as education, culture, and age.


The study will include three phases: Phase 1: a questionnaire, Phase 2: focus groups and Phase 3: interviews. The objective of Phase 1 is to identify which ADLs are most challenging for older adults with dementia and their caregivers.  The questionnaire will identify people’s needs for AT to support ADL completion and how diverse social factors influence these needs. The questionnaire will also learn about how AT can be designed to encourage its adoption for use by older adults with dementia and their caregivers. Phases 2 and 3 will further explore how social factors influence users’ needs for AT and how the design and appearance of AT should be modified to increase its usability to persons of different backgrounds.


The data collected from Phases 1, 2 and 3 will be transformed into design guidelines. It is expected that the resulting design guidelines will help bridge the gap between AT developers and end users, which will in turn serve to increase usability and adaptation of AT.

Research Team

Alex Mihailidis (University of Toronto)
Rose Czarnuch (York University)
Stephen Czarnuch (Memorial University of Newfoundland)
Bing Ye (University of Toronto)
James Bell (York University)
Mackenzie Moir (York University)
Jennifer Hill (York University)
Parisa Osivand (York University)
Sanzana Hossain (York University)


Alzheimer Society of Canada