Helping the elderly with memory disorders to orientate in built environment: A field study of a technological system

Laura Sorri, Ilkka Winblad, Eeva Leinonen, Maarit Kangas, Mari Ervasti, Minna Isomursu

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference abstract in proceedingsScientific


    The aging of the population with increasing numbers of people with dementia challenges to develop and design technology that guides persons with memory disorders in their daily activities. In the project ”Value Creation in Smart Living Environment for Senior Citizen” funded by the Academy of Finland we study applications of smart technology in order to help persons with dementia to orientate in everyday life. The study was conducted in 2009/2010 in the dementia rehabilitation unit ‘Karpalokoti’ in Pyhäjärvi, Finland. We used ”Wizard of Oz” method, in which technology still under refining is simulated to appear as coherent entity for the user. The orientation advices were given through three modalities, visual (picture, text), audio and tactile (vibration) signals, of which two were used at time. The tested components of orientating in- and outdoors were getting off the ground, keeping on the right track, recognition of the landmarks, being guided back to the right track and recognition of the destination. Eleven subjects, five female, six male, aged 59–90 years (median 83 years), participated. Their degree of difficulty of dementia was between mild and severe (MMSEs 3–23) and walking condition ”from frail to hobby skier”. They and/or their relatives had given the informed consent for the study. Mostly the orientating with technology on a defined route succeeded with a few misinterpretations. The most common difficulties were getting off the ground, straying from the defined path, finding the right door and the attractions of real-life context like other people. The degree of difficulty of dementia didn’t seem to predict succeeding in orientating with the guiding system. Using the landmarks wasn’t as successful as using left, right and go straight on as guiding information. The ability to exploit the landmarks was dependent on the degree of dementia.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationAbstract Book
    Subtitle of host publication20th Alzheimer European Conference
    Publication statusPublished - 2010
    MoE publication typeNot Eligible
    Event20th Alzheimer European Conference - , Luxembourg
    Duration: 30 Sept 20102 Oct 2010


    Conference20th Alzheimer European Conference


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