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A considerable number of adults with dementia live in residential aged care facilities, where loneliness and boredom are common. Computer-based and electronic technologies have advanced significantly and there is potential for such technologies to improve engagement of residents with dementia. However, the nature and extent of the evidence supporting the use of these technologies is unclear.
The aim of this study was to investigate the use of computer-based and electronic technologies for enhancing meaningful engagement of adults with dementia living in residential aged care.
A scoping review was conducted. Nine databases were searched from 2008-2018. Included studies were summarized, compared and synthesized according to technology type.
Twenty studies were included. Most studies were conducted in Australia (n = 7) and Europe (n = 8). Study designs were quantitative (n = 12), mixed methods (n = 5), descriptive (n = 2) or qualitative (n = 1). Studies aimed to investigate interaction, engagement, behaviors or quality of life (n = 14), to examine the feasibility of technologies (n = 3), or had both aims (n = 3). Technology type fell into two categories: robotics (n = 14) and multi-media computer programs (n = 6). Across both technology types, there were conflicting results in relation to positive impact on meaningful engagement. Studies only investigated the doing, belonging and connecting aspects of meaningful engagement. Additionally, there was a lack of consistency across studies in how activity, interaction and engagement were measured.
The role and potential of new technologies to enhance meaningful engagement for those with dementia should focus on creating human-to-human interactions while taking individual preference and person-centered principles into account.
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