Dementia is an important community issue in New Zealand with some 70,000 people living with the disorder, costing $4.6 billion in care annually (Meng-Lee 2021a).
However, the true cost of informal support is not understood as sufferers are heavily reliant on support from their Whānau, friends, neighbours and voluntary community groups in order to continue to live in their own homes.
Sir Richard Faull, a neuroscientist with the Centre for Brain Research in NZ recently stated that care must “support the person with the challenge in a way that gives them full value of their life, every day”.
Technology can contribute towards strengthening community bonding for people living with dementia. There is an opportunity to harness high on-demand technologies such as Internet of Things, machine-learning, Cloud computing and data analytics to build effective and efficient solutions that will enable dementia patients to retain independence as long as possible.
Evidence shows that the home is the best place for such patients as it is the least distressing environment.
Dr Geri Harris is currently a Senior Lecturer in the School of Digital Technologies at Manukau Institute of Technology in Auckland, where she teaches subjects, like, Professional Practice in IT, IT & Team Communication, Management of IT and Research Methods to under- and post-graduate students. She has extensive teaching experience having previously lectured at Auckland University of Technology and before that the University of New South Wales in Australia. Geri worked for more than 10 years as a Business Analyst in the Irish Financial Services sector. She obtained her PhD in 2015 for innovative work investigating the unintended consequences of participation and non-participation in online communities. Her interest in technology to enable everyday activities in social settings is now leading her into researching ways for technology to support elderly people living with dementia.