Wouldn’t it be perfect if we all had a personal assistant that came to know us so well that, when we
grow older and start to forget things, she could help us, warns us, contact our loved ones if necessary
or gives us advise?
That assistant could be Anne. Anne is a virtual personal assistant that can support
the elderly in all aspects of daily life: communication with the outside world, tasks at home (home
automation), keeping track of items in the personal calendar, daily structure, medication, and relaxation.
She appears on a TV screen or tablet and is able to speak and listen. The voice control is a distinctive
and important feature for user convenience: Some people can work quickly with Anne without previous
experience with computers. Others need some time to get used to her.
A prototype of the personal assistant has been developed and tested with the elderly in various residential
and care settings. The pilots showed that supporting elderly with personal calendar management was valued
the most. This is in line with research findings that frailty in the elderly almost always starts with feelings
of insecurity and the fear to lose control. Older people feel stronger and more secure knowing that Anne manages
their agenda accurately and will remind them in a time of their activities and obligations. Moreover, they
can always ask Anne any question as often as they wish without her ever getting angry or impatient.
In this project, the personal assistant will be extended with features that meet the specific needs of
older people with early dementia. The goal is to provide an effective, client-friendly and affordable
solution to enable this target group to live independently longer and maintaining a higher level of quality
of life. This, in turn, will affect caregivers by alleviating them more.