Access and ability to use everyday technology among older adults with and without dementia across different countries

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SwedenKarolinska Institute Sweden
Early Stage Researcher (ESR4)


Sarah Wallcook image: Email icon image: Linkedin icon image: Twitter icon image: University profile icon



Prof. Louise Nygard image: Email icon image: University profile icon


Assistant Prof Camilla Malinowsky image: Email icon image: University profile icon

Hello, I am delighted to be working with the CACTUS team at Karolinska on this research project. I originally graduated from the University of Manchester in music in 2004 and I have recently completed my masters in occupational therapy at the University of Cumbria.

Throughout my practice I have been interested in the unique meaning of an activity to each individual and how unpicking this helps to shape a personalised service.

I am interested in ground up research, power dynamics, particularly as experienced by people with dementia, the changing role of technology in people’s lives and the relationship between individual experience and top down sociopolitical drivers.

Duration 36 months
Start date September 2016


The objectives are to address questions such as: What is the stability and/or variation of the level of difficulty of different everyday technologies for older people including those with dementia across countries? Which interface characteristics, samples, or contexts make certain technologies more challenging? How do technologies impact on wellbeing and social participation, and what consequences follow when older adults have limited or no access/use of technology? Access to technology is often considered part of ageing well even though many people don’t use all technologies they can access.

Expected Results

This study will produce maps of everyday technology use across European countries (what technologies people have access to) and the technology rooms (what technologies people use/have used/intend to use), by the use of standardized instruments, and hierarchies of the difficulty levels of these technologies in different contexts will be developed for comparisons. Similarly, it will produce comparisons of the perceived ability to use technology of people with and without dementia across countries. This includes explorations of meanings attached to technology by older adults with and without mild stage dementia and which aspects interfere with life satisfaction and social participation, plus the conditions for potential support from/through technology. These studies will provide new, generic, knowledge of the interplay between older adults as users of technology in different environments/contexts to facilitate development of a technological landscape where objects better fit the needs and abilities of people with dementia.

Planned secondment(s)

Two of 3 months. In the first year with Prof Paul Higgs at University College of London, UK to develop a deeper understanding of social issues in to technology including stigma and social exclusion. In the second year, with Ritchard Ledgerd at the World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT) (80 organisations) to conduct a survey and report on technology use for people with dementia across the world, and to collaborate with ESR3 to produce a WFOT good practice guide on technology and dementia.




From opera to occupational therapy – in – 19/10/2016

UK student becomes MSCA fellow – in – 20/10/2016

Sarah secures place in top Swedish university – in – 24/10/2016

Doing it for Dementia During Dementia Awareness Week – in – 15/05/2017

Alzheimer Europe newsletter May 2017 – INDUCT project invites people in the UK to take part in its research study –

Click here to know how to join this research –