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BioMed Research International
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 720483, 12 pages
Research Article

Co-Designing Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) Environments: Unravelling the Situated Context of Informal Dementia Care

1Rehabilitation Sciences Institute and Department of Occupational Sciences & Occupational Therapy, University of Toronto, 160-500 University Avenue, Toronto, ON, Canada M5G 1V7
2Department of Software and Information Systems, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 9201 University City Boulevard, Charlotte, NC 28223, USA
3Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, Division of Occupational Therapy, Karolinska Institutet, 141 83 Huddinge, Sweden

Received 30 November 2014; Accepted 20 February 2015

Academic Editor: Stephen Goss

Copyright © 2015 Amy S. Hwang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Ambient assisted living (AAL) aims to help older persons “age-in-place” and manage everyday activities using intelligent and pervasive computing technology. AAL research, however, has yet to explore how AAL might support or collaborate with informal care partners (ICPs), such as relatives and friends, who play important roles in the lives and care of persons with dementia (PwDs). In a multiphase codesign process with six (6) ICPs, we envisioned how AAL could be situated to complement their care. We used our codesigned “caregiver interface” artefacts as triggers to facilitate envisioning of AAL support and unpack the situated, idiosyncratic context within which AAL aims to assist. Our findings suggest that AAL should be designed to support ICPs in fashioning “do-it-yourself” solutions that complement tacitly improvised care strategies and enable them to try, observe, and adapt to solutions over time. In this way, an ICP could decide which activities to entrust to AAL support, when (i.e., scheduled or spontaneous) and how a system should provide support (i.e., using personalized prompts based on care experience), and when adaptations to system support are needed (i.e., based alerting patterns and queried reports). Future longitudinal work employing participatory, design-oriented methods with care dyads is encouraged.