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A framework for developing a conversational agent to improve normal age- associated memory loss and increase subjective wellbeing

Curry, Collette (2018) A framework for developing a conversational agent to improve normal age- associated memory loss and increase subjective wellbeing. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

Research has developed a baseline conversational agent (CA) framework that experiments suggest may improve normal ageing memory problems and increase Subjective Wellbeing (SWB) in participants aged 60+ with normal age-associated memory loss. In 2008, 1.3 million people in the United Kingdom were aged 85+, this figure is projected to reach 3.3 million by 2033 (Morse, 2010). Thus, as the population profile changes, ageing memory impairment problems will become acuter (Morse, 2010). The number of people worldwide with diagnosed clinical memory problems is expected to double every 20 years to 66 million by 2030 and 115 million by 2050 (Casey et al., 2016, Prince et al., 2013). Improving memory impairment reduces distress for individuals and enhances wellbeing and independence (Dorin, 2007); (Wagner et al., 2010). The quality of life in old age can be improved by increasing SWB (George, 2010) that is concerned with how people experience the quality of their lives and includes both emotional reactions and cognitive judgments (George, 2010). Experiments performed as part of the pilot study suggested evidence of increased SWB and improved memory after use of the CA. To support these early findings, modification to the agent and further experimentation was undertaken. Further work enhanced the preliminary work that was carried out and provided the opportunity to run further, more in-depth evaluations of the CA as both a reminiscence aid and as an improver of SWB. This PhD study applied for and gained ethical approval (SE111219) from the Faculty of Science & Engineering Ethics Committee, Manchester Metropolitan University on 25 October 2012.

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