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Gerontology. 2013;59(2):174-82. doi: 10.1159/000343986. Epub 2012 Dec 18.

Usability of tablet computers by people with early-stage dementia.

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Medical Device Research Institute, School of Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics, Flinders University, Bedford Park, S.A., Australia.



Tablet computers are generally associated with an intuitive interface. The adoption and use of tablet computers within the early-stage dementia context could potentially assist in daily living and provide users with a source for leisure activities and social networking. As dementia mainly affects the older adult population, it is expected that many people with dementia and even their carers do not use tablet computers as part of their everyday living.


This paper explores the usability of tablet computers within the early-stage dementia context as a source of leisure for people with dementia. The main advantage of the use of tablet computers in this manner is to provide carers some reprieve from the constant care and attention often required in caring for people with dementia.


Seven-day in-home trials were conducted to determine whether people with early-stage dementia were -capable of using a tablet computer independently. Twenty-one people with early-stage dementia and carer dyads participated in the trial. Feedback was gathered through questionnaires from both the person with dementia and their carer regarding the use of a tablet computer as part of their everyday living.


Approximately half the participants with dementia were able to engage with and use the tablet computer independently, which proved to be helpful to their carers. No significant traits were observed to help identify those who were less likely to use a tablet computer. Carer relief was quantified by the amount of time participants with dementia spent using the device without supervision.


The results and feedback from the trial provide significant insights to introducing new technology within the early-stage dementia context. Users' needs must be considered on a case-by-case basis to successfully facilitate the uptake of tablet computers in the dementia context. The trial has provided sufficient justification to further explore more uses of tablet computers in the dementia context, and not just for early-stage dementia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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