Exploring feasibility of digital voice assistants for dementia and mild cognitive impairments  

This project is exploring the use of digital voice assistants to support older people with dementia and/or mild cognitive impairment. Find out how you can be part of it.

Dr Paul Jansons wants to transform the way healthcare is delivered for older people with dementia and/or mild cognitive impairment. 

Together with an industry partner, he has developed innovative software which uses digital voice assistants such as an Amazon Alexa for a project supported by Dementia Australia. 

Digital voice assistants, which can interpret human speech, will be used to deliver 12-week personalised cognitive rehabilitation program. 

Dr Jansons said digital voice assistants were ideal to deliver personalised strategies such as medication/appointment reminders or to assist people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and dementia to carry out daily living activities such as meal preparation.  

A major part of the project is to understand the barriers and facilitators to implementation from the perspective of stakeholders, providers and participants. Dr Jansons will also assess study processes including recruitment and retention rates, adherence and acceptability of the program.  

While emerging evidence shows many digital health approaches are safe and effective, personalised rehabilitation programs remain challenging and time-consuming for health care professionals to monitor. Dr Jansons believes this program may be more easily applied to a real-world setting than other telehealth applications, such as videoconferencing.  

“If digital voice assistant technology is found to be an effective way to help people with MCI and dementia with their daily living, there will be less need for regular face-to face care and patients are potentially more likely to follow professional medical advice,” Dr Jansons said.  

“This could lead to better healthcare outcomes and reduced costs on a massive scale.” 

Interested in being part of this research?

Our researchers are currently investigating whether an Amazon Alexa Show 8 is an effective way to deliver a 12-week personalised program to support older adults with dementia and/or mild cognitive impairment.

If you or someone you know is aged between 60 to 85 years with a recent diagnosis (less than 6 months) of dementia and/or mild cognitive impairment, you may be eligible to join this study.

What do I have to do?

You will be required to complete an online survey about your health, cognition, function, and/or activities of daily living. All participants will then be randomly allocated to one of two groups where one group will receive a 12-week personalised program, delivered by an Amazon Alexa device, and the other group will receive an email once a week with information about memory and cognition.

Participants allocated to the Alexa group will receive a pre-registered Amazon Alexa Show device delivered to their home with instructions for connecting the device to Wi-Fi (which always needs to be left switched on). The device will broadcast information and instructions based on two personally meaningful goals developed with a psychologist via videoconferencing.  Participants will be asked to regularly interact with the device to receive information and reminders.  Participants will in this group will be asked to complete additional assessments, including an interview and questionnaires, to tell us about their experience using the device.

Benefits to participants?

Participants allocated to the Alexa group will receive an Amazon Show 8 which can be kept after the study is complete.  Control participants will receive an Amazon Show 8 at the end of the 12 weeks.

Please click  HERE  to take our survey to check your eligibility.

Or email us for more details:

Project Coordinator:  Tracy Yiannis tyiannis@deakin.edu.au 

Principal Investigator: Dr Paul Jansons paul.jansons@deakin.edu.au

This study has received ethical clearance from the Deakin University Human Research Ethics Committee (DUHREC 2022-043).