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The People and Technology at Home (PaTH) Project: Supporting development of home technologies for people with Alzheimer's disease

Keywords: Assistive technology use, design research, cognitive systems engineering, Alzheimer’s Disease.

Project Documents

  • Design-related terms and references (2012). This document lists various references that may be helpful for those working on the design or evaluation of everyday technologies for people with Alzheimer's disease. It is not intended to offer a complete list of aspects related to design (and was originally used with a survey), but some designers/researchers may find it a helpful starting point. It is freely available for your use.

Overview of Research

Everyday technologies in the home can play an important role in supporting those with Alzheimer’s disease and their families, but to date use is low. To begin addressing issues of non-use, researchers have identified four themes. These involve adopting a holistic perspective [1]; understanding the range of factors related to technology use [2]; applying a conceptual framework to situate those factors [2]; and developing analytical methods to study them [3].

At present, neither a full understanding of the factors related to use, nor the analytical methods to study them have been established. This project is intended to address these gaps by developing a Best Practices Design Guide.

Part I of the Guide will present a ranked list of factors and recommended design practices. ‘Factors’, predictably, are numerous and varied. They  involve those related to individuals as well as to context, which includes the home environment and social/care team [5]. They also include those related to technology adoption and use, which involves fitness for purpose, trustworthiness, acceptability, adaptability [6] and one’s sense of agency associated with a technology. ‘Design practices’ encompass the practices, frameworks, methods and tools used in development. Part II of the Guide will offer a conceptual framework that situates the technical factors within a broader social/environmental context; and present a set of analytical methods to analyze those factors.

By using the Guide, designers will be able to establish specific design requirements needed to develop home-based technologies for people with AD. Use of the Guide may, in turn, influence design and enhance the independence and quality of life for this population and their families.

Cooperation with the Alzheimer’s Community

Given that Alzheimer’s disease is a condition of global importance, cooperation amongst various stakeholders within the Alzheimer’s community is an important endeavour. Should you, as an individual with AD, a caregiver, a researcher or designer, wish to contribute, please contact us.


  1. Scherer MJ, Hart T, Kirsch N, Schulthesis M. Assistive technologies for cognitive disabilities. Critical Reviews in Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine. 2005;17(3):195.
  2. LoPresti EF, Mihailidis A, Kirsch N. Assistive technology for cognitive rehabilitation: State of the art. Neuropsychological Rehabilitation. 2004;14(1):5–39.
  3. Topo P. Technology studies to meet the needs of people with dementia and their caregivers: A literature review. Journal of Applied Gerontology. 2009 Feb;28(1):5–37.
  4. Vicente KJ. Cognitive work analysis: Toward safe, productive, and healthy computer-based work [Internet]. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum; 1999.
  5. Sommerville I, Dewsbury G. Dependable domestic systems design: A socio-technical approach. Interacting with Computers. 2007 Jul;19(4):438–56.
  6. Ahlstrom V, Longo K. Human  Factors Design Standard (HF-STD-001). Atlantic City International Airport, NJ: Federal Aviation Administration William J. Hughes Technical Center.; 2003.

Funding Sources

Alzheimer's Society of Canada

University of Toronto Fellowship

CIHR-STIHR Fellowship in Health Care, Technology and Place (HCTP) (TGF-53911)

SCACE Graduade Fellowship in Alzheimer's Research

Toronto Rehabilitation Institute Student Scholarship

Research Team

Tizneem Jiancaro, Ph.D.. Candidate (University of Toronto)

Alex Mihailidis, Ph.D. P.Eng. (University of Toronto)