Date of Conferral
Public Policy and Administration
Christopher B. Jones
Assistive technology may delay cognitively impaired elders' need for long-term institutionalization, and the promote independence. Its use is on the rise, yet the gap between the needs of the cognitive impaired elderly and what developers of the assistive technologies design, manufacture, and implement, remains to be filled. Using Inayatullah's 6-pillar approach, as the guide to the future of assistive technology, the purpose of this qualitative study was to explore how assistive technologies may fulfill the daily functional needs of the cognitively impaired elderly with Alzheimer's or other dementia by 2037. Data were collected from a focus group of 10 seniors at a senior center in a large mid-Atlantic city, as well as survey data from with 5 family members of the cognitively impaired elderly and 16 technology developers from an engineering society. These data were coded according to the thematic content analysis and causal layered analysis. The future triangle analysis served as a second layer of analysis. Findings indicated that the most desirable outcome for 2037 is that of the "happy retiree," characterized by flourishing cultural and financial opportunities, and the least desirable is that of the "struggling pensioner" characterized by monetary gains of the social elite at the expense of the poor and working class. The most expected outcome, though, is the "caring robot" that is characterized by the use of technology and artificial intelligence to promote equitable social and health care benefits to aging citizens. Positive social change may be achieved through recommendations to state, local, and national policy makers that support the improvement in the elders' well-being, the delay of hospitalization, and greater support for the duties of family members, and greater caretaker independence.