Continue Reading Aging in Place and Technology #3" />

Aging in Place and Technology #3

by Louis on October 2, 2008

Monitoring to Prevent Illness and Injury

Two paths to preventing illness and injury are better self management and anticipating situations so we can avoid the consequences. Technology can play a significant role in avoiding consequences by monitoring conditions so appropriate interventions can be employed. Monitoring systems establish a baseline of behavior and condition from which change can be tracked. Change is not necessarily an indicator of decline but an alert that something may be happening.

Some examples of monitoring and types of change are:
1. Monitoring helps us know that an individual typically gets up between 7:30 and 9:00 am every day. Sensors that can help us know this include a motion detector, a bed sensor or a refrigerator door sensor. If there is no movement by ~9:30 am an alert goes to a call center, pager, cell phone or computer desktop (or all of the above). From this alert a call or visit is in order to see what is up.
2. Evidence is growing that Parkinson’s disease can be predicted by a change in gait far in advance of symptoms occuring. In floor or under rug sensors can analyze gait change. Early medical management can avoid severe deterioration.
3. Solitaire played on a computer or specially equipped TV can track the quality and speed of decisionmaking. What causes the change? Is it medication or diet? Is there an illness or cognitive change?
4. A system detects rapid movement in the upper reaches of a space. The system is very effective at determining falls. The system switches automatically from movement analysis to live video feed forwarded to a video capable call center. The staffer sees whether the faller gets up or not, calls to see how things are going, calls the listed responder, or calls emergency services.

These monitors do not diagnose. They collect data passively and translate anomolies into alerts. This very small step has the potential to reap huge rewards. The misery and medical costs of falls and other illnesses are huge. Family and paid caregiver resources are applied much more effectively when responding to an alert than making random calls or visits. Catching conditions before hospitalization and rehabilitation are required will save millions of dollars.

These passive monitor systems step past reliance on a cognizant, conscious or compliant user/wearer client. Whatever cream comes to the top of the plethora of passive monitor ideas being studied, the clients, families and payers (read: US taxpayers and insurance/medical providers- everyone) stand to win big!

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: