Challenges for assistive technologies that target older adults: Using examples from AAL funded projects


Andreea Stamate & Cosmina Paul (Ana Aslan International Foundation, Romania)


The World Health Organisation predicts that 1 in 6 people will be aged 60 years or over by 2030 (World Health Organisation, 2022). Many older adults have, or may face as they advance in age, complex health needs. Needs which require that they, or various medical staff, routinely travel to access, or deliver health services. The public sectors’ financial constraints, together with the current economic downturn are leading to increasing financial pressures which require that healthcare and social-care service providers identify alternative, more efficient, delivery models (Currie et al., 2015). Assistive Technology (AT) can be an effective tool to tackle some of these issues. AT has many advantages, in terms of accessibility, richness of measurement, and cost (Germine et al., 2018), still this technology is at an early stage and faces several challenges. In this lecture we will focus on AT that use digital assessment to monitor users from a cognitive and physical perspective. Tools that use digital assessment should have several important characteristics, including, but not limited to: leaving the construct of the measurement unchanged; uncover and measure behaviour not otherwise obtainable; the behaviour/s they uncover should be used to operationally define neurocognitive constructs (Libon et al., 2021). Proper piloting and research of digital assessments tools is also extremely important, however, this is at times treated lightly. This session will address the opportunities and barriers of this type of technology and share some of our experiences relating to their development and field testing, using examples from AAL projects that we have implemented and the literature. Participants will engage in discussion on how to assess the value of existing solutions and on how develop proposals, and improve methodology, for new solutions that aim to monitor older adults remotely using digital devices.

Expected learning outcomes

At the end of the session the participants will be able to:

  1. Think critically about the advantages and disadvantages of using AT to monitor older adults remotely;
  2. Understand the importance of utilising sound methodology within the assessment process to measure AT effectiveness;
  3. Identify strategies for successful implementation and adoption of AT targeting older adults.