Michael Massimi, Emma Berry, Georgina Browne, Gavin Smyth, Peter Watson, and Ronald M Baecker
One of the most troubling symptoms of Alzheimer's disease is the loss of the patient's sense of identity. This loss complicates relationships, increases apathy, and generally impedes quality of life for the patient. We describe a novel in-home ambient display called Biography Theatre that cycles through music, photographs, movies, and narratives drawn from the patient's past and current life. We conducted an exploratory case study with an 84-year-old male with moderate-stage Alzheimer's disease (Mr H). The study consisted of three phases: a baseline phase, a phase wherein autobiographical materials were collected and discussed, and a phase wherein the display was deployed in the home. The patient demonstrated improvement on standardised tests of apathy and positive self-identity, but did not improve on tests of autobiographical memory, anxiety, depression, and general cognition. We also report on caregiver reactions to the intervention and how the display helped them cope with and reinterpret their loved one's condition. This work suggests that interdisciplinary work involving "off the desktop" computing technologies may be a fruitful way to provide rehabilitative benefit for individuals with Alzheimer's disease.
In Neuropsychological Rehabilitation