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Amanda Lazar

Graduated: January 1, 2015

Thesis/Dissertation Title:

Using Technology to Engage People with Dementia in Recreational Activities

Dementia is estimated to currently affect almost 15% of US adults over the age of 70. As the population ages, the prevalence of dementia will increase proportionally. The increase in the number of people with dementia will create a corresponding increase in health services required. Structured activities are extremely important in this population, leading to greater well-being and greater positive affect during activities and long term effects such as delayed progression of cognitive impairments. Despite the importance of activities in dementia care, many people with dementia living outside of the community are lacking opportunities for sustained social interactions and stimulating activities. There is a clear unmet need for stimulating activities that do not place an additional financial or time burden on staff or families. Technology is a promising venue to engage people with dementia in activities. For example, technology can be used to deliver rich multimedia and standardized interventions, utilize digital archives increasing their accessibility to many, engage people in remote care or contact with loved ones, and monitor and log changes in use of the system.

In my dissertation, I examine the ways technology can support older adults with dementia in engaging in activities in a memory care unit. I discuss existing technologies that support this population in engaging in activities, a six month field deployment of an existing technology, and recommendations that have been validated with experts in the field of gerontology and human computer interaction. My dissertation furthers our understanding of how to design engaging technologies for older adults with dementia to promote meaningful participation in recreational and leisure activities.

Last Known Position:

Assistant Professor, University of Maryland


George Demiris (Chair), Rebecca Logsdon, Wanda Pratt, Hilaire Thompson, Nancy Hooyman