An exploration into smart environments for stimulating encounters for older adults with dementia in in-patient facilities

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review


Problem field The demand for the smart dementia-friendly infrastructure is rising as the Netherlands faces an ageing population and an increasing number of older adults with a form of dementia. Social interactions are vital to quality of life, however, people with dementia experience increasing problems with social contact as the disease progresses (Jonker, Slaets, & Verhey, 2009). One way to stimulate social health is by enabling different forms of social contact, ranging from observing social interactions to active (digital) social interaction using (non-)verbal communication (Hubbard, Downs, & Tester, 2003). Literature reveals all these forms can help maintain the health of a person with dementia, specifically by decreasing medicine use, agitation and increasing quality of life (Ballard et al., 2018). Those living in inpatient facilities seem to benefit from (smart) environments ( Mohammadi, 2014), although these are often not aimed at increasing social contact but mostly use sensor technology to identify activities, track well-being and context-aware functional feedback (Cook, et al. 2010) Purpose of Study The aim of this study is to explore where and when encounters for older adults with dementia in inpatient facilities can be stimulated using smart technology and physical infrastructure. This paper regards smart environments as a seamless integration of technological and architectural interventions. Methods This paper examines (smart) environments for stimulating social interactions by using academic literature and examples from practice in the Netherlands. However, there are a limited number of examples of smart environments for stimulating encounters in practice and science. And as smart environments are integrations between technology and architectural interventions, these interventions are examined separately as well (just technological or architectural interventions). Smart environments are studied in relation to social interaction and are explored over time. Findings and Results Both architectural and technological dimensions can influence social interaction in this target group. While social interaction can be increased using (a combination between) technology and architecture, at the moment these are two separate fields. Research shows that there are few examples of smart environments for stimulating encounters, however, effects of these smart environments are rarely examined. Conclusions and Discussion Among spatial and technological interventions in inpatient facilities there is a shift visible from supporting to stimulating people with dementia in their daily activities, by using experience-based spaces or products. These trends are also seen in the few examples of smart spaces available for this target group. Important in the design and realization of smart environments is that it should create a feeling of home, in order to connect to the experiences and perceptions of its occupants (Astell, 2006). To achieve a smart environment that can stimulate encounters while still feeling like home, it is important that technology is seamlessly integrated into the environment.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication3rd Conference of Interdisciplinary Research on real estate : book of abstracts
Place of PublicationLjubljana
PublisherInstitute of Real Estate Studies
ISBN (Print)978-90-82706-4-9
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Event3th Conference on Interdisciplinary Research on Real Estate - Groningen , Netherlands
Duration: 20 Sept 201821 Sept 2018


Conference3th Conference on Interdisciplinary Research on Real Estate
Abbreviated title2018 CIRRE


  • dementia
  • architecture
  • smart technology
  • encounters
  • inpatient facilities
  • stimulation


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