Some of the needs that people with dementia and their informal carers currently perceive as insufficiently met by regular care and support services might be alleviated, or even be met, using modern Information and Communication Technology (ICT). The study described in this paper was designed to provide an insight into the state of the art in ICT solutions that could contribute to meet the most frequently mentioned unmet needs by people with dementia and their informal carers. These needs can be summarized as (1) the need for general and personalized information; (2) the need for support with regard to symptoms of dementia; (3) the need for social contact and company; and (4) the need for health monitoring and perceived safety. Databases that were searched include: PubMed, Cinahl, Psychinfo, Google (Scholar), INSPEC and IEEE. In total 22 websites and 46 publications were included that satisfied the following criteria: the article reports on people with dementia and/or their informal carers and discusses an ICT-device that has been tested within the target group and has proven to be helpful. Within the first need area 18 relevant websites and three studies were included; within the second need area 4 websites and 20 publications were included. Within the third and fourth need area 11 and 12 publications were included respectively. Most articles reported on uncontrolled studies. It is concluded that the informational websites offer helpful information for carers but seem less attuned to the person with dementia and do not offer personalized information. ICT solutions aimed at compensating for disabilities, such as memory problems and daily activities demonstrate that people with mild to moderate dementia are capable of handling simple electronic equipment and can benefit from it in terms of more confidence and enhanced positive effect. Instrumental ICT-support for coping with behavioral and psychological changes in dementia is relatively disregarded as yet, while support for social contact can be effectively realized through, for example, simplified (mobile) phones or videophones or (entertainment) robots. GPS technology and monitoring systems are proven to result in enhanced feelings of safety and less fear and anxiety. Though these results are promising, more controlled studies in which the developed ICT solutions are tested in real life situations are needed before implementing them in the care for people with dementia. It is recommended that future studies also focus on the integration of the current techniques and solutions.
- Unmet needs