Background: In the EU funded MARIO project, specific technological tools are adopted for the people living with dementia (PLWD). In the final stage of the project, a validation of the MARIO companion robot was performed from August to October 2017.
Objective: The aims of the present study are: 1) to illustrate the key results and evidence obtained in the final evaluation phase of the project across the three different pilot sites; 2) to assess the engagement dimensions of the PLWD who interacted with the MARIO robot; and 3) to assess the acceptability and efficacy of the MARIO companion robot on clinical, cognitive, neuropsychiatric, affective and social aspects, resilience, quality of life in PLWD, and burden level of the caregivers.
Methods: 38 people (M = 14; F = 24) with Alzheimer's disease were screened for eligibility and all were included. The following tests were administered Pre and Post interactions with MARIO: Observational Measurement of Engagement (OME), Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), Clock Drawing Test (CDT), Frontal Assessment Battery (FAB), Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI), Cornell Scale for Depression in Dementia (CSDD), Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS), 14-item Resilience Scale (RS-14), Quality of Life in Alzheimer's Disease (QOL-AD), Caregiver Burden Inventory (CBI), Tinetti Balance Assessment (TBA), and Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment (CGA) was carried out.
Results: In Post-MARIO interactions, significant improvements were observed in RS-14 (p = 0.020).Considering the age of the people, PLWD with 68-76 years perceived that they had major social support (MSPSS Total: p = 0.016) and friends to support them (MSPSS Fri: p = 0.014). Indeed, the younger people (55-67 years) were less depressed (CSDD: p = 0.033), and more resilient (RS-14: p = 0.003). The people aged 77-85 years perceived they had major family support (MSPSS Fam: p = 0.018). The participants were gender and education matched without any statistically significant difference.
Conclusion: MARIO may be a useful tool in mitigating depression and loneliness, while enhancing social connectedness, resilience, and overall quality of life for people with dementia.
Keywords: Acceptability; comprehensive geriatric assessment; dementia; loneliness; quality of care; quality of life; resilience; robots; safety.