Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to assess the empirical support for the use of assistive technology in the care of people with dementia as an intervention to improve independence, safety, communication, wellbeing and carer support. Design/methodology/approach: A total of 232 papers were identified as potentially relevant. Inclusion criteria were: studies published between 1995 and 2011, incorporated a control group, pre-test-post-test, cross sectional or survey design, type of interventions and types of participants. The 41 papers that met criteria were subjected to an assessment of their validity using the model provided by Forbes. Following the assessment seven papers were considered as strong, ten moderate and 24 weak. The review is presented around the following topics: independence, prompts and reminders; safety and security; leisure and lifestyle, communication and telehealth; and therapeutic interventions. Findings: The literature exploring the use of assistive technologies for increasing independence and compensating for memory problems illustrate the problems of moving from the laboratory to real life. The studies are usually limited by very small samples, high drop-out rates, very basic statistical analyses and lack of adjustment for multiple comparisons and poor performance of the technology itself. Originality/value: Research to date has been unable to establish a positive difference to the lives of people with dementia by the general use of the assistive technology reviewed here. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.