Refrigerators, dishwashers, and doorways diagnosing dementia? Sounds crazy, right, but Dr. Jeffrey Kaye thinks tiny motion sensors strategically placed throughout the home may help doctors diagnose dementia (or chronic alcoholism?) sooner.
Tiny motion sensors are attached to the walls, doorways and even the refrigerator of Elaine Bloomquist’s home, tracking the seemingly healthy 86-year-old’s daily activity.
It’s like spying in the name of science – with her permission – to see if round-the-clock tracking of elderly people’s movements can provide early clues of impending Alzheimer’s disease.
“Now it takes years to determine if someone’s developing dementia,” laments Dr. Jeffrey Kaye of Oregon Health & Science University, which is placing the monitors in 300 homes of Portland-area octogenarians as part of a $7 million federally funded project.
The goal: Shave off that time by spotting subtle changes in mobility and behavior that Alzheimer’s specialists are convinced precede the disease’s telltale memory loss.
Early predictors may be as simple as variations in speed while people walk their hallways, or getting slower at dressing or typing. Also under study are in-home interactive “kiosks” that administer monthly memory and cognition tests, computer keyboards bugged to track typing speed, and pill boxes that record when seniors forget to take their medicines.
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