Fitting into the Public Milieu: Findings from a Participatory Inquiry Study on Use of GPS Technologies By People with a Dementia

Monday, 16 July 2018: 17:45
Oral Presentation
Ruth BARTLETT, University of Southampton, United Kingdom
Petula BRANNELLY, Bournemouth University, United Kingdom
This talk explores the complexities of aging and use of GPS technologies by men and women with a dementia in middle-age and later life. The discussion is based on a 28 month empirical project, completed in February 2018 and funded by the Alzheimer’s Society. It was called Using Technologies for Safer Walking: A Participative Inquiry and sought to address this question: How effective and acceptable are technologies for promoting safer walking? We took a disability-rights perspective and centralized the opinions, concerns, and experiences of citizens with dementia.

The project had three phases. Phase one involved focus groups with the police (n=20), and individual interviews with people with dementia (n=16) and family members (n=16). Phase two employed go-along walking interviews with people with dementia (n=15) who were using some form of technology, such as a GPS device or phone app, when they went out. The third phase involved an overnight residency with key stakeholders including research participants.

Here we present a key finding from phase 2, which involved participants of different ages; two were in their 50s; four were in their 60s; six were in their 70s; and three were in their 80s. We found that safer walking is not simply about going outside independently or avoiding risks but fitting into the public milieu. The fitting occurs whenever there is a ‘harmonious interaction’ or agreeable encounter with a material thing, which might be a GPS-enabled device. Significantly, several participants referred to their dementia as a ‘thing’ that got in the way of them fitting in, and participants in their 70s and 80s related to their GPS device in a less harmonious way than younger participants. By the end of this talk we hope delegates will be more informed about GPS use by people with dementia.