ADRD: Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias
Care recipient (CR): Individuals with ADRD.
Care Partner (CP): People caring for individuals with ADRD. We have used the words care partners instead of the generally used term, caregivers, as people in the early stages of the disease are fairly independent and the ones taking care of them are partnering in their care rather than being their caregivers.
Design technologies to support aging in place for individuals having early-stage ADRD and their care partners.
Helping older adults maintain their independence while simultaneously keeping their care partners connected.
Design solutions using off-the-shelf smart technologies to support both populations.
While we wanted to interview both the user groups- people with ADRD(CR) and their care partners (CP), due to the Covid-19 lockdown, we were not able to interview individuals with early-stage Alzheimer's and related dementia. Hence, we decided to focus on the care partners.
While it would have been ideal to interview people with ADRD, the extensive background research that we conducted coupled with the invaluable inputs given by the care partners and the subject matter experts gave us important insights on their needs and helped us with the design.
We are hoping that CR interviews would be conducted in the future, and this design would be iterated accordingly.
They are the ones helping out the users with ADRD. While caring for the CR is a part of their life, they have other priorities too. We need to help integrate the care with their daily life and make sure they get the updates they need. They want to
Any technology that we design needs to help the CRs without infringing on their independence and privacy. The care recipients need assistance with
The main priority of a care partner is to keep the individual they support, safe. Whereas, a care recipient wants to feel in control and preserve their independence. Finding the right balance is crucial.
Getting used to new technologies could be tough for both with the CRs having the additional responsibility of setting it up for the CRs. Systems should be user friendly and integrate into the environment.
Everyone’s condition is different and requires different levels of support
Care partners need the ability to monitor and adapt a system’s settings in a way that it grows with the condition.
The system has to support the individual and caregiver’s overall well-being, rather than just focusing on medical issues. They help combat these feelings by supporting engagement, social participation, and leisure.
We started our design process by creating some visions that were further evaluated through focusing on pluses (+), minuses (-), and Design Ideas (DI's). We analyzed each vision and decided to design a mobile application that leverages smart devices to provide assistance with various caregiving activities and regular subtle check-ins.
We brainstormed key user needs and used a scenario-based approach to identify how our product would fit into the day in the life of our users and find any loopholes.
We decided to create an app that connected the care partner and the care recipient and gave timely updates about the CP to the CR. The app will sync with different smart devices to give regular updates about the CR to the CP.
We conducted moderated user tests with care partners. Each test had one moderator and one note-taker. These are the major insights we got from our user tests -
We created a visual design language keeping in mind the user comfort and needs. We incorporated the feedback that we got to redesign the final screens.
Care + is a mobile application that leverages smart devices to provide assistance with various caregiving activities and regular subtle check-ins. It can be integrated with any smart device such as Amazon Echo, Apple Watch, Google Home, etc.
As we couldn't interview care-recipients, we have, for now, focused on care partners. We have made the procedures very intuitive and easy to understand- reducing the technological burden of CP. CRs only interact with smart speakers- reducing their burden of learning the usage of the app.
The application has a customizable dashboard that gives all the main information that the care partner would need at a glance. The most important alerts are at the top followed by the widgets that can be customized to suit their needs.
Care partners can set up different tasks and routines for the care recipients in the tasks section. They can also configure different smart devices from this section and create automated routines.
The CR's are reminded of the tasks in ways they find most convenient. In case the CR misses any task, the CPs can choose if and how they get alerted.
This way, the CPs can keep up with the CR's schedule and daily activities.
The application has a health section which helps with medication management and helps keep track of CR's health metrics.
One of the most important concerns of the CPs was medication management. They want to make sure the CRs take their medicines on time. Here, CP can add CR's medication schedule and set alerts if the CR misses taking any medicine. Synced with a smart pillbox, the CP can also view the quantity of medication left and be alerted in case a refill is needed.
There is also a Health Metrics section where one can view information from activity trackers.
Lastly, there is a user profile section where one can add and access CR's medical ID.
One of the main concerns of the CPs is CR's safety. In case of an emergency, they want to be informed and wants to CR to be supported at the same time. So, we created an emergency section where the CPs can create automated routines for different triggers.
Many care recipients have multiple care partners and they need to be able to decide what kind of notifications they get. So, we added an add care partners section where they can configure alerts and notifications.
We are hoping that interviews will be conducted with the CRs when possible and that this design will be iterated accordingly.
One of the main aspects of designing for a sensitive population is the need for empathy. This app could potentially act as an interface between the care partners and the care recipients- and that has to reflect in the design. We tried to make the app as personalizable as possible. While we may not be able to solve our users' problems, but through our app, we have tried to reduce the CP's burden.
The biggest issue we had during the project was the unavailability of participants for tests and interviews.