Doctoral Dissertation

26.10.2018 MA Merja Riikonen (Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences, Gerontology and Public Health)


26.10.2018 12:00 — 15:00

Location: Seminaarinmaki , L304
MA Merja Riikonen defends her doctoral dissertation in Gerontology and Public Health "The experiences of technology as part of daily life of people with dementia - security or intrusion".

Opponent Docent Päivi Topo (Age Institute, Helsinki) and Custos Professor Taina Rantanen (University of Jyväskylä). The doctoral dissertation is held in Finnish. 


The experiences of technology as part of daily life of people with dementia - security or intrusion

This study deals with the adoption of assistive dementia technology for daily livingand the users’ and family members’ experiences of the devices. The framework to thisstudy was Lawton´s ecological model. An ethnographic approach was used wheninterviewing and observing people with dementia using such technology. The firststudy was carried out 2004-2007. The target group involved 25 people with dementialiving in their own homes with a family care-giver or alone, their family members andfive professionals from municipal home care services. A total of 29 different deviceswere introduced in the participants’ homes. The second data collection stage took place2012-2014. It involved 20 people with dementia. The participants used a GPS watchtracker. Based on the experiences of people with dementia and their family members,the study explored how technology can be used to meet the people’s needs andsupport their daily living at home in an ethical manner and how technology should bebrought into use effectively. Data were analyzed using content analysis.When exploring the everyday challenges and needs as regards technology,family members worried about physical insecurity, while people with dementiadiscussed insecurity from psychological and social perspectives. Their objective was toremember better, and to use the devices for this purpose. Social needs, retention ofautonomy and mobility needs were among the most important daily living needs bypeople with dementia. Their challenges were loneliness, problems related to thedeterioration of memory and ability to function, as well as restricted mobility. Technology could be useful in overcoming these challenges, provided that attention ispaid to the social network, continual guidance, the right timing of introducingtechnology and motivation. Ethical use of technology can be enhanced by holisticsensitivity to the user’s own experiences. A technology-using environment is lessrestrictive to the autonomy of people with dementia, compared to an environmentwithout technology. Technology can, however, also have negative effects if it containselements that disturb daily living or stigmatize the user.

Keywords: people with dementia, experience, technology, tracking technology, ethicality, mobility