Commercial conversational agents (CAs) bear the promise of low threshold accessibility for individuals with limited digital competencies. This applies not only for healthy aging older adults but also for specific subgroups such as those with life-long intellectual disabilities (ID).
This scoping review aims to synthesize the current evidence on benefits and challenges of CAs for older adults with and without ID. In doing so, we hope to inform future research as well as practical decision-making in the context of CAs as potential quality of life enhancers for older adults with various competence levels.
Material and methods
A literature search was conducted in form of a scoping review. A total of 841 publications were screened for benefits and challenges of CAs, resulting in an extraction of 18 articles targeting healthy aging older adults (60 years+) and 5 articles targeting older adults with ID (50 years+) for synthesis.
The existing evidence suggests that CAs come with more benefits than challenges, e.g., general ease of use, easier information access, and feelings of companionship. Higher perceived agency due to using a CA seems to be a specific issue for older adults with ID. Challenges concern mostly learning how to use a CA and privacy concerns.
The results indicate that CAs can serve as quality of life enhancers both in healthy aging adults and in older adults with ID; nevertheless, thoughtful preparation is necessary, especially in relation to learning needs, capabilities present and privacy concerns.