Virtual Home Assistant Use and Perceptions of Usefulness by Older Adults and Support Person Dyads


Cynthia F. Corbett
Elizabeth M. Combs
Pamela J. Wright
Otis L. Owens
Isabel Stringfellow
Thien Nguyen
Catherine R. Van Son


Abstract: Aim: Describe virtual home assistant use and usefulness from the perspective of older
adults and their support persons. Methods: This was a mixed-methods study with older adults
and their support persons (n = 10 dyads). Virtual home assistant (VHA) equipment was installed

in participants’ homes, and its use was documented for 60 days. Participants received protocol-
guided telephone calls to address their VHA questions or problems. The type and frequency of

VHA use were summarized with descriptive statistics. End-of-study interviews about VHA use
were conducted with dyad participants. Qualitative content analyses were used to describe the
interview findings about the dyad’s perceptions of using the VHA, how it was used, any difficulties
experienced, and suggestions for future VHA uses. Results: Participant dyads reported positive
VHA perceptions, including the potential for VHAs to promote aging in place. Participants discussed
the challenges learning the technology and replacing old habits with new ones. Participants offered
recommendations for future VHA skills and for more education and training about using the VHA.
Conclusions: The study findings suggest that VHAs may be useful for older adults as they age in
place and offer reassurance for support persons.



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