Thursday, March 4, 2010

Technology to Detect Dementia, Infirmity in Seniors

Researchers from Carnegie Mellon, the University of Pittsburgh and Presbyterian SeniorCare will use unobtrusive sensors embedded in everyday objects to detect physical impairment or the onset of dementia in seniors.

Sensors will evaluate a person's ability to take medicine, use the telephone and prepare meals, says CMU Associate Professor Anind Dey.

If it takes longer and longer to open the right compartment in a pillbox or if medications are not taken correctly, Dey says sensors will report the problem--usually long before the people themselves seek help. Intervention, whether pharmacological or behavioral, will then be possible before damage is done or institutionalization is necessary.

The research team here, one of five in the country funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, will recruit 30 to 50 seniors who have osteoarthritis and are at risk of dementia.

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