One aspect that nearly all papers about technology and dementia share is the paragraph that builds up the pressure. The paragraph that explains how many people are affected now in the region the authors are interested in. The paragraph that highlights how these figures are expected to rise in near future. The paragraph that outlines how high the costs of this illness.
Which is aimed to put the work into perspective and validate what has been done. But, I feel this is also the paragraph that leaves a sense of urgency. A sense that we need to act quickly. A sense that we need measures in place, better yesterday than today.
Which – again – I can emphasise with. I also do not want anyone to suffer for longer as neccessary. I want to make life easier for everyone and I think we need innovative solutions soon.
But, does this feeling of urgency help? Might there not be a way to take the pressure out, step back and think about the long-term impact of interventions? Take time to establish if what is happening ntow works? Time to connect to others and refine best practices?
It looks as if dementia is here to stay. A cure seems unfortunately long away. Even medication that slows down the process is still in development. Should we not look at how we can prepare for the long term? Just in case?
And even if we find a cure tomorrow, the work will not be lost. All research, all sustainable technological developments we do will benefit others in one way or another.
So, do we have the time not to innovate but to understand? So, in my particular case, could my PhD not lead to a (more or less) innovative product now, but rather to an understanding how technology could aid coming generations with dementia? Understand how my generation might live with dementia? Is this sustainable or selfish?
Unfortunately I do not have an answer either. But I wanted to stop in my steps and consider this option. And I am happy to discuss. What do you think: Should we design for the now or plan ahead? Or both? Do we have the time?