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Developing Assistive Technologies for Persons with Alzheimer’s Disease and Their Carers: The Ethics of Doing Good, Not Harm 

Developing Assistive Technologies for Persons with Alzheimer’s Disease and Their Carers: The Ethics of Doing Good, Not Harm
Chapter:
Developing Assistive Technologies for Persons with Alzheimer’s Disease and Their Carers: The Ethics of Doing Good, Not Harm
Author(s):

Diane Feeney Mahoney

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780190459802.003.0012
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date: 16 May 2021

This chapter examines the ethical principles applicable to gerontechnology research and development for in-home monitoring of persons with neurocognitive impairments. Principles addressed include respect for persons, autonomy, beneficence, justice, nonabandonment, nonmalfeasance, and privacy. Key issues for designers, developers, end-users, and reviewers are highlighted by uniquely drawing from real-world research examples. Studies indicate that among stakeholders there remains an emotional tension between “high tech” and “high touch” interventions for older adults with dementia. At the extremes, technophobic humanists dismiss technology as universally inferior to human assistance, while techno-proponents view it as the solution to care problems resulting from human limitations. “Benevolent” geriatric protectionism from technology is paternalistic and stifles innovation, while pushing technology without input from geriatric end-users results in products mismatched to their needs. Society will be better served if both viewpoints thoughtfully consider the ethical foundation of their beliefs informed by research findings to foster approaches that do good, not harm.

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