This anthology answers an increasing need to understand design that supports the daily life of people with dementia. The need parallels an increasing interest in design for life environments and technology among architects, designers, engineers, social scientists and those responsible for housing and social and health care planning. As the number of people afflicted by this syndrome increases, the importance of well-designed technological applications to their well-being also grows, as well as for the wellbeing of their relatives and carers.
With this book we aim to support the emerging research and development around this topic, which has stressed innovation, participation in the design process, as well as technical competence and the physical environment. But our main focus in this book has been to understand the person and his or her subjective needs and desires rather than asking how to manipulate the behaviour of the person affected by dementia. This is our way to make their voice heard. Our goal as editors is to provide a collection of articles which draw a balanced picture of how to utilise the habits, preferences and various abilities of people with dementia in the design process and how to take into account their disabilities. We hope that this book increase the understanding of the needs and desires of people with dementia and the way this understanding can promote and improve their involvement in design the processes of assistive technologies and other technological appliances.
To conclude, it is time to get involved, and there are both methods and concepts to be used in doing so. In 2006 the number of people with dementia was estimated to be 5.4 million in the European Union member states and this number is expected to double by 2040. According to Alzheimer's Disease International expert panel, the global figure of people with dementia was set at over 24 million in 2005, and this figure is expected to double every twenty years. The challenges of everyday life for these individuals are shared by many. Even if we are aware of the limitations of technology in helping this group of people, it is easy to agree that there is an urgent and very obvious need to ensure that these people get their fair share of the technological development.
The authors are all engaged in the field of design and dementia in the Nordic countries, the United Kingdom and Austria. During more than a year of preparations they have contributed to the result and we hope that their work will expand the interest also among colleges in neighbouring research areas and for students and other persons who want to improve their knowledge. Producing an international anthology also requires editing, linguistic and other work with the manuscript. We would like to thank Kristiina Saarikalle, Eileen Deaner and Mark Phillips for their efforts and especially Academy of Finland, Lund University, Sweden and IOS Press for making this book possible.
Helsinki and Stockholm in September 2008
Päivi Topo and Britt Östlund, editors