AgeLab Research Associate Birgit Kramer, who is currently earning a Ph.D. from Network Aging Research (NAR) at the University of Heidelberg is exploring the acceptance and awareness of new technologies for caregivers of people with dementia in Germany. After a literature review of Alzheimer’s caregiving and new technologies over the last 10-15 years for North America and Europe, she found a lack of German literature. She also found an abundance of technology ideas and prototypes that rarely became products on the market. Through her literature review, Kramer developed a criteria for acceptance and adoption of assistive technologies, which includes meeting a felt need; adjusting to the individual; appealing design; user-friendliness; availability of service, training and maintainance; costs; dynamic design (to change with the progress of dementia); awareness by the public; and safety and reliability.
Kramer pointed out that it is not in the caregiver or dementia patient’s best interest to use technologies that reduce human attention and personal contact, however technologies can promote safety for the patient, allowing them more freedom and mobility. Technology has the potential to reduce stress and simplify tasks for the caregiver.
Kramer’s next steps for her research are to interview representatives of German health care systems, home care service providers (such as nurses), manufacturers and online shop managers, and family caregivers.
Kramer recently presented her findings thus far in Progress through Collaboration: Addressing the Needs of Alzheimer’s Disease with Innovation, a Janssen and Pfizer-sponsored event held at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.