Using a touch screen computer to support relationships between people with dementia and caregivers

Arlene J. Astell, Maggie P. Ellis, Lauren Bernardi, Norman Alm, Richard Dye, Gary Gowans, Jim Campbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

148 Citations (Scopus)


Progressive and irreversible cognitive impairments affect the ability of people with dementia to communicate and interact with caregivers. This places a burden on caregivers to initiate and manage interactions to the extent that they may avoid all but essential communication. CIRCA is an interactive, multimedia touch screen system that contains a wide range of stimuli to prompt reminiscing. The intention is that people with dementia and caregivers will explore CIRCA together, using the recollections sparked by the media as the basis for conversations. This paper reports an evaluation of the utility of CIRCA looking particularly at whether CIRCA can meet the needs of both people with dementia and caregivers to engage in mutually satisfying interactions. The findings confirm that people with dementia can use the touch screen system and that the contents prompt them to reminisce. The system also supports caregivers to interact with people with dementia as more equal participants in the conversation. The results suggest that interacting with the touch screen system is engaging and enjoyable for people with dementia and caregivers alike and provides a supportive interaction environment that positively benefits their relationships. (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-275
Number of pages9
JournalInteracting with Computers
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2010


  • Dementia
  • Communication
  • Touch screen
  • Reminiscence
  • Relationships


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