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Digital Assistive Technologies: A New Frontier in Improving Dementia Care and Quality of Life

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Digital assistive technologies (DATs) are gaining attention as potential tools to enhance the daily lives of people with dementia (PWD). The research focus has traditionally been either on specific DAT types or on a broad overview. Therefore, it is crucial to evaluate the various kinds of digital assistive technologies and their role in augmenting the quality of life (QOL) for PWD.

A scoping review was conducted using the Arksey and O’Malley framework and the guidelines from Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses Extension for Scoping Reviews. This review focused on completed scientific literature with a primary emphasis on DATs for PWD. It also considered the perspectives of caregivers, family members, or healthcare workers concerning PWD, people living in diverse settings, and all severities of dementia.

The research included data sources from Cochrane, Embase, PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science from January 2013 to May 2023. Following a thorough screening and data extraction process, quantitative and qualitative analyses were conducted using thematic analysis principles and Digital Therapeutics Alliance categories for DAT grouping.

Digital Assistive Technologies

The Role of Digital Assistive Technologies in Enhancing Quality of Life

The results showed that 6083 records were identified, with 1056 duplicates. After screening, 4560 full texts were excluded, leaving 122 studies of different designs. The DATs were classified into digital therapeutics (n=109), patient monitoring (n=30), digital diagnostics (n=2), care support (n=2), and health system clinical software (n=1). These categories were found to influence various aspects of QOL such as preserving autonomy, engagement, and social interaction, health monitoring and promotion, improving activities of daily living, improving cognition, maintaining dignity, managing behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia, and safety/surveillance.

In conclusion, a variety of DATs provide extensive support, enhancing the QOL of PWD. Digital therapeutics are predominantly used for aging-in-place and independent living through assistance with daily tasks. Future research should concentrate on underrepresented digital health technology categories, such as care support, health & wellness, or software solutions. The continuous observation of DAT developments and their long-term effects on QOL is of vital importance.


Original Article DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2023-080545

Original title: Impact of digital assistive technologies on the quality of life for people with dementia: a scoping review

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