Robot companion to support the autonomy of people with dementia

Description of the Project: 

Dementia is a general term for several progressive brain diseases which affect memory, emotion, behaviour, and cognition [1,18]. The global population of people living with dementia is 50 million, and this is forecast to be 80 million in 2030 [4]. Dementia is leads to deterioration of abilities to perform Activities of Daily Living (ADL) [15].

ADL can be split up into basic ADL (BADL) or self-care tasks, such as dressing, eating, bathing; instrumental ADL or independent living tasks, e.g. housework, financial management, or taking medication; and advanced ADL or volitional tasks, for example social activities and hobbies [15,16]. Dementia usually leads to many people being unable to independently care for themselves and needing help with all aspects of their daily lives [2]. Major symptoms of dementia include memory loss, difficulty to perform formerly routine tasks, difficulty finding the right words to explain thoughts or understand what people are saying, personality and mood changes [2].

Robot companions are increasingly being used to facilitate independent living and health of elderly people. There have been many studies regarding the therapeutic effects and efficacy of different social robots supporting people with dementia. For example, the zoomorphioc seal robot PARO has been successfully used to improve social interactions and reduce social isolation of people with dementia [8,9] and as a therapy tool [10]. Additionally, AIBO the robotic dog has been shown to improve social interaction and engagement amongst people with dementia [11]. PALRO, a humanoid robot companion, has been shown to encourage communication, intellectual activities, and fun for people with dementia [13]. Methodology: This research would focus on developing a robot companion to support people with dementia to continue living independently by taking a proactive approach in interaction where the robot gives suggestions, prompts, and direction that are engaging through multimodal interaction. An important aspect of this research would be specifying user requirements in terms of achieving ADLs with people with dementia and their caregivers. 

Resources required: 
Pepper Robot
Project number: 
First Supervisor: 
Heriot-Watt University
First supervisor university: 
Heriot-Watt University
Essential skills and knowledge: 
MSc in Robotics or closely aligned subject would be key.

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[11]M. Marx, J. Cohen-Mansfield, N. Regier, M. Dakheel-Ali, A. Srihari and K. Thein, "The Impact of Different Dog-related Stimuli on Engagement of Persons With Dementia", American Journal of Alzheimer's Disease & Other Dementiasr , vol. 25, no. 1, pp. 37-45, 2008. Available: 10.1177/1533317508326976 [Accessed 15 January 2019].

[12]S. Kramer, E. Friedmann and P. Bernstein, "Comparison of the Effect of Human Interaction, Animal-Assisted Therapy, and AIBO-Assisted Therapy on Long-Term Care Residents with Dementia", Anthrozoös , vol. 22, no. 1, pp. 43-57, 2009. Available: 10.2752/175303708x390464 [Accessed 15 January 2019].

[13]K. Inoue, N. Sakuma, M. Okada, C. Sasaki, M. Nakamura and K. Wada, "Effective Application of PALRO: A Humanoid Type Robot for People with 

Dementia", Lecture Notes in Computer Science , pp. 451-454, 2014. Available: 10.1007/978-3-319-08596-8_70 [Accessed 15 January 2019].

 [14]C. Blankevoort, M. van Heuvelen, F. Boersma, H. Luning, J. de Jong and E. Scherder, "Review of Effects of Physical Activity on Strength, Balance, Mobility and ADL Performance in Elderly Subjects with Dementia", Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders , vol. 30, no. 5, pp. 392-402, 2010. Available: 10.1159/000321357 [Accessed 16 January 2019].

[15]D. Mograbi et al., "The impact of dementia, depression and awareness on activities of daily living in a sample from a middle-income country", International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry , vol. 33, no. 6, pp. 807-813, 2017. Available: 10.1002/gps.4765 [Accessed 16 January 2019].

[16]"Dementia: a public health priority", World Health Organization , 2018. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 17- Jan- 2019].